How to breastfeed

These tips should help get you started:

  • Find a comfortable position where both your back and arms can be supported (e.g. sitting in a chair holding your baby, with a pillow underneath the baby to take their weight) and relax
  • Make sure that you have a drink and a muslin cloth or tissues to hand, plus extra cushions if required
  • Hold your little one close to you, keeping their head and body in a straight line and position them with their nose opposite your nipple
  • As your baby's mouth opens (you can encourage this by gently brushing your baby's mouth with your nipple), quickly bring the baby closer to your breast
  • Your baby will tip his or her head back and take a large mouthful of breast
  • You may find it easier to support and guide your breast with the flat of your hand underneath it
  • In the first few days, your baby just takes small amounts of the very rich colostrum that your breasts produce - this is all they need at the moment
  • Your baby will stop feeding when they are ready (and may even fall asleep!)

Some feeding positions to try

Don't be afraid to try different positions for breastfeeding - the more comfortable you are the easier it will be for both you and your baby to relax.

  • Lying down - Lay in bed facing the baby (your bodies should be parallel to each other).
  • Underarm - Sit up, with your baby's body tucked under your arm and their head at the front.
  • Cradling - Sitting up, cradling your baby in your arms (with a pillow on your lap to take the weight of the baby if this is more comfortable).

Is your baby latched on properly?

It shouldn't hurt you after the first few sucks (later on, once your milk has ‘come in', you may experience a little discomfort when you first start feeding as your milk ‘lets down' and starts to flow).

  • Your baby's chin should be tucked against your breast with the head extended backwards
  • They’ll suck rhythmically and will pause at times
  • There will be movement in front of the ears, indicating swallowing

If you are experiencing any pain or your baby's cheeks appear to be sucked in, gently slip your little finger in to their mouth to break the suction and detach them from the breast, and then start again.

Helping your baby to settle

It is perfectly normal for your baby to wake during the night for a feed in the first few months, but if you are breastfeeding your baby to sleep every night you may notice that they need the same cue to help them go back to sleep when they wake during the night. Make breastfeeding part of the bedtime routine, but once your baby has finished feeding, change their nappy, read or sing to them so that being fed is a separate action to falling asleep.

Winding your baby

Babies usually need to be winded during and/or after a feed. Each baby is different, some are quite ‘windy', some bring up a little (or a lot!) of milk when they burp, some babies are often a bit sick after a feed and others rarely bring anything up. Make sure you have a bib or muslin to hand when winding your baby as it can be a bit messy.

To help your baby to bring up wind, you can:

  1. Put the baby upright against your shoulder. Gently patting or rubbing their back in this position can also help.
  2. With one hand spread over baby's chest and tummy and supporting their chin, gently sit the baby forward with your other hand supporting their back.
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