How do I Start Breastfeeding?
- Firstly, find a comfortable position for both of you, with phone and remote near to your free hand – you may be there for some time.
- Sit with your back straight and as many cushions or pillows on your lap as you need to bring your baby up to breast level.
- Turn your baby into your body to face you, with your nipple level with baby’s nose. Tummy to mummy, nipple to nose.
- Gently squeeze your breast to shape the nipple and areola to make it easier for your baby to get the breast into their mouth.
- To help control your baby's head, place your opposite hand around the nape of the neck with your thumb and fingers just under their ears. This will help you to be able to support and guide their head into the correct position for latching on.
- Let your baby’s mouth brush the nipple and you’ll find he or she will open their mouth.
- Wait until your baby’s mouth is open really wide, then aim your nipple at the roof of your baby’s mouth and bring him/her onto the breast.
- Always bring your baby to your breast and not the other way round, as this allows the baby to latch on correctly and is easier on your back.
- If your baby has latched on correctly you will not be able to see any of the nipple nor most of the areola (the dark area around the nipple).
- Once the baby is latched on, you can gently let go of your breast. Depending on the size of your breast, it may be necessary to gently press on the breast tissue nearest to the baby's nose make sure they can still breath!
- Put out of mind any images you may have of your baby bottle feeding because the breastfeeding position is very different.
How do I Know if I’m doing it Right?
- You know it’s going well if your baby’s mouth is wide open and their bottom lip is curled back – although admittedly it’s hard to see that from your position!
- Other reassuring signs are the tops of your baby’s ears wiggle when they suck and you can hear the sound of your baby swallowing.
- You may also notice a tingling feeling in your breast as the milk flows down to your nipple when he or she is latched on properly.
- If you’re in any discomfort, just slip your finger gently into the corner of your baby’s mouth to unlatch him/her, and then try again. Remember, the first ten seconds may be very uncomfortable, but this should quickly settle down and not be painful at all.
What Else Can I do to Make Sure my Baby Feeds Well?
- Practice makes perfect - Helping your baby latch onto your breast is the main skill you both need to learn in the early days and with practice and support you’ll be glad you hung in there. After about 4 to 6 weeks it gets a lot easier.
- Eat well – Eat regularly and more calories than you would normally be used to in order to maintain a good milk supply without feeling tired, irritable and even depressed. As in pregnancy, try to eat a balanced diet with as much fresh food as possible.
- Drink well - You may be more thirsty so aim to drink lots of water and not too much tea, coffee or fizzy drinks. Even sparkling water should be avoided, because the acidity can filter through into your milk and make your baby feel unsettled. It’s a good idea to keep a jug or glass of water close at hand, especially when you’re actually feeding, as breastfeeding can make you very thirsty.
How do I Know When my Baby has had Enough?
- Once your baby’s properly latched on, you should let them feed until they let go of the breast or fall asleep.
- You should offer both breasts at every feed, although your baby may not want both every time.
- If your baby fills up on just one breast, offer him or her the other one first next time. Some mums find attaching a ribbon to that bra strap is a good reminder.
How Often Should I Feed?
- Your body makes milk on a supply and demand basis, so the more your baby feeds, the more milk you’ll produce.
- Make sure you have plenty of rest, especially in the early days, to maximise your milk production.
When Can I Introduce a Bottle or Soother?
You may be keen to get your baby used to a bottle, but it’s best to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks until breastfeeding is really well established, in case you put your baby off the breast. Sucking on a teat is different from sucking on a nipple, and babies can get confused in the early weeks.
Should I Give my Baby Extra Water or Formula?
Providing your baby is feeding regularly on demand and is settled after a feed, gaining weight and having 6-8 wet nappies in 24 hours, the answer is no! Breast milk is all your baby needs and introducing anything else will reduce the amount of time your baby sucks at your breast – which will in turn reduce your milk production.
For more information about how to breastfeed, try our breastfeeding tips section, or find more specific information on our breastfeeding advice page.