How to breastfeed
The best way to learn to breastfeed is to have a midwife, lactation consultant or even another person who has breastfed, help you with your position and attaching the baby to your breast.
- Make sure you are sitting comfortably, and you are well supported.
- Hold your baby close to you, facing your chest.
- Position your baby on their side with their nose opposite your nipple.
- Support your breast from underneath.
- Position your fingers well back from the areola/nipple so your baby is able to take a big mouthful of breast tissue.
- Touch your baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage your baby to open their mouth wide.
- Make sure your baby's mouth is very wide (like yawning), bring your baby quickly to the breast, chin first.
- Attach so your baby's bottom lip is well down over the areola, 'off centre'.
- Continue to support your breast until your baby is sucking and swallowing in a deep rhythmic pattern.
- If you experience pain when your baby starts swallowing, take your baby off the nipple and re-attach.
- Remember to insert a clean finger between the baby’s gums to break the seal when taking your baby off the breast.
How often to feed
Your baby needs a minimum of seven to eight feeds in 24 hours, especially in the early weeks after birth.
You know your baby is feeding well when they:
- are settled after most feeds
- are alert, active and content when awake
- have at least six soaked cloth nappies in 24 hours after your milk 'comes in'; disposable nappies should be heavy and spongy
- have at least one yellow, loose bowel action every day after initial meconium (first bowel action) is passed.
Your baby should be back to birth weight by two weeks of age. Normal weight gain is between 20 and 30 grams per day, or between 150 and 210 grams per week.
You know your baby is feeding correctly when:
- after some initial short frequent sucks to stimulate milk flow, your baby begins to swallow. Sucking becomes slower, deeper, and more rhythmic with rest periods between each sucking burst. As the feed progresses the sucking bursts become shorter and the rest periods longer
- you can hear or see your baby swallowing.
You may develop problems breastfeeding if you:
- restrict suckling time at the breast
- give infant formula to your baby without medical advice
- use dummies in the early weeks.
- Maternal & Child Health Line 24 hours Helpline 13 22 29
- Australian Breastfeeding Association 24 hours Helpline 1800 686 268
- Breastfeeding NHS Information by UK National Health Service
- Provide feedback about the information on this page
Related Health Topics
Breastfeeding your baby
This 16 page booklet is for mothers who are starting to breastfeed. In it you will find information on how to get started and how to avoid common problems when breastfeeding your baby.
- Breastfeeding your baby
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