When should I start?
The sooner the better. Your baby is born with a natural instinct to breastfeed, although it may still take a bit of practice! Remember it will get much easier over time as you both get to grips with it.
How to breastfeed
1. Wash your hands and get comfortable
- Sit so your back is straight and your lap is flat.
- Use cushions to support your back and you may wish to put a pillow on your knee to lift your baby closer to your breast if necessary. This is highly recommended, especially in the early days of breastfeeding, and will help prevent backache.
- Have a glass of water handy
2. Position your baby in your arms
Support your baby’s head, shoulders and body in a straight line. Ensure your baby’s nose is opposite the nipple and allow their head to tilt back slightly.
Use the pillow to support your baby, which will help keep them in the right place. Use one hand to support their head and neck, and the other to help position them on their side.
3. Lift your baby up to your breast
- Your baby’s nose should be in line with your nipple
- Allow their head to tilt back slightly
4. Gently move their top lip across your nipple
- Your baby should open their mouth wide enough to cover your nipple and the lower part of the dark area around it (areola)
5. Move your baby forwards so their mouth ‘latches on’ to your nipple
Not as scary as it sounds! Your baby’s bottom lip and chin should touch your breast first
6. Make sure baby has your whole nipple and lower part of the areola in his mouth
Baby's chin should be touching your breast
- Your baby should have a big mouthful of breast
- There should be more areolar visible above the top lip than below the bottom lip
- Your baby should be breathing easily
- You may need to support your breast
7. You will feel a tingling sensation in your breast
This means that your milk is flowing (‘let-down’). You’ll see their jaw moving and hear your baby swallowing. As your milk flow increases, you may also feel some stinging, burning, or prickling in your breasts
8. Let your baby feed for as long as they like
If they empty one breast (you’ll know this because your baby will probably become frustrated and your breasts will feel soft without any lumps), move on to the other
9. ‘Wind’ or ‘burp’ your baby
When they have finished feeding, make sure you wind your baby (They will let you know when they have finished by either letting go of your breast or falling asleep)
Click here to find out more on winding your baby
10. Breastfeed your baby again
Once your baby’s tummy is empty of air bubbles, you may find they want more!
How do I know if they’re feeding?
- You’ll feel a tingling sensation. This shows your milk is flowing
- You’ll see their jaw moving (or their ears moving slightly as their jaw moves)
- You’ll hear your baby swallowing
- You’ll feel comfortable. It shouldn’t feel like an endurance test
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t worry. Slide one of your fingers into your baby’s mouth to break the suction and try latching on again.
If you can’t get the positioning right, take a look at our video or speak to a healthcare professional
Why does breastfeeding give me period pains?
This is your uterus starting to contract. This action is triggered by hormones released when you breastfeed which is why these pains feel stronger when you’re feeding