Majority of babies born at the Milton Keynes University Hospital are getting the best start in life

    The majority of babies born at the Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Trust last year are getting the best start in life, NHS figures suggest.

    The trust has higher than average rates of initial breastfeeding, which Public Health England says "helps give babies the best nutritional start in life".

    In 2017-18, 3,475 babies were born at the trust , and Milton Keynes University Hospital recorded data on the first feed for 250 newborns. Of those, 78% had maternal or donor breast milk for their first feed.

    But that leaves 55 babies who missed out on the numerous benefits of initial breastfeeding.

    Fran Bailey, a breastfeeding counsellor at parents' charity the National Childbirth Trust, said: "The majority of babies have colostrum for their first feed, which is like breast milk, but much thicker and creamier.

    "We call it 'baby's first immunisation', because it's rammed full of antibodies. There's only around 5ml of it, a tiny amount, but it's really good for helping to protect babies' tummies."

    But Ms Bailey said that the first feed can sometimes be "tricky" for new mothers.

    "The baby can be drowsy from pain medication, maybe mum's sore or just completely knackered," she said. "Those things might get in the way."

    She added that baby formula is "absolutely nutritionally adequate", and that it was important to support families "with whatever decision they are making."

    "If you are wanting to breastfeed and the first feed isn't working, don't panic," she said. "Try to get support with it along the way."

    Jane Scattergood, Midwifery Advisor at Public Health England, said: "Skin-to-skin contact directly after birth has lasting benefits for both mother and baby.

    "It also supports breastfeeding, which helps give babies the best nutritional start in life."

    She added: "We know some mothers may need support and encouragement to help them start and continue with breastfeeding.

    "That's why we provide trusted advice to parents through our Start4Life campaign resources, and to midwives and health visitors through professional guidance."

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