Is formula provided on the maternity ward?

We often get questions on our social media groups from expectant mums about feeding newborns on the maternity ward: is formula milk provided? What sort is it? Should I bring in my own? What will the midwives say if I want to formula feed rather than breastfeed?


We recently had some help from one of our mums in the know at the hospital – and this is the current position as we believe it to be, along with some excellent commentary and advice from her:


1. Yes, the maternity ward does have pre-made milk and teats.


2. It is not given to the ward free from companies – our Expert says: “that would be a total conflict of interests” – the hospital has to buy it.


3. Staff cannot make suggestions as to which milk to use, as this is not something that health professionals are allowed to do. “They are all processed cows milk and pretty much the same, no matter what the adverts say.”


4. They do not stock Aptamil.


5. They do not have a milk kitchen, fridge or sterilisation facilities, so if you do bring your own, it all needs to be single use.


6. If you want to artificially feed your baby, that’s fine as long as you are happy and you have made an informed choice.


7. Staff will support you to feed your baby whichever method you choose.


8. Feeding should be baby-led, whichever method you choose (this is called responsive feeding).


9. If you are breastfeeding and you ask for a bottle, you will be questioned as it has negative effects on breast feeding. “What we will do is look into the reason that the breastfeeding is not working and you feel the need for formula, then create a plan to support you and your baby.”


10. There are “care pathways” which help reluctant feeders to establish breast feeding.


11. Sometimes formula is medically indicated: “that’s ok, we will work with you to keep baby healthy and safe while breast feeding is established.”.


12. Some mums choose to hand express antenatally (freezing the expressed breast milk) so they have some colostrum ready for the immediate postnatal period. “You must not do this too early, so please seek guidance from a health professional first.


PS: Skin to skin is amazing and benefits both mother and baby, it does not matter if you are breastfeeding (although it really really helps with establishing BF) or artificially feeding, skin to skin is the way to go.


Thank you so much to our resident maternity expert – and we wish all our expectant mums a safe delivery, and happy first-feeding experiences.

Enjoy that skin-to-skin – it goes past in a flash!

More advice and guidance from the NHS Choices website here:

Breastfeeding advice

Bottle feeding advice