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How To Breastfeed

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How To Breastfeed

Getting Positioned

Try to start each breastfeed in a way which makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Some techniques which may help;

  • When sitting, keep your back straight and make sure your lap is flat, have your feet flat on the floor and support your back and arms with pillows to help raise your baby if needed
  • If lying down, lie flat on your side using a pillow to support your head, this can be very comfortable and also allow you some time to rest.

Holding Your Baby

There are several ways to hold your nursing baby, including the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, football hold and side-lying hold.

For more information on each of these read our article Breastfeeding Positions.

Latching On

No matter which position you use, one of the most important skills to master is getting your baby to latch onto the breast correctly. To do so, hold your baby close so that their nose is opposite your nipple. Bring them to the breast when their mouth is wide open so that they are able to take a big mouthful of breast tissue.

You will know that your baby is well latched onto the breast if;

  • Their lips are far apart and flared
  • Their chin is touching your breast and nose is clear
  • They have a big mouthful of breast
  • You’re not in any pain
  • You can hear a regular sound of sucking and swallowing.

For a demonstration, watch our video below.

One Breast Or Two?

Your milk supply is dependent on your baby’s sucking, with each breast making a different amount of milk. To ensure each breast is being stimulated and drained regularly, it’s best to begin each feed on the alternate breast.

After a few weeks of feeding your milk supply will adjust to your baby’s needs and you may, or may not, want to feed from both breasts at each feed.

The longer your baby feeds from one breast the more likely they will get some of the high-calorie ‘hindmilk’ that comes later in the feed.

How Long Will Each Feed Take?

The length varies between feeds. As a rough guide, when starting to breastfeed each feed can take up to an hour, but as your baby matures this time will start to decrease.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Let your baby decide when they have had enough. Your baby’s sucking will slow and they will usually become sleepy toward the end of a feed or when let-down has slowed
  • Offer your baby the other breast when they finish the first side. They might not want both breasts at each feed. Note which was the main breast you fed with, so you can alternate to the other at the beginning of the next feed
  • Occasionally your baby may finish feeding, but still be latched on to your breast. If you need to break the baby’s suction, you can insert a clean finger into the corner of their mouth and gently push your finger between their gums to feel the release.

Winding (Burping) Your Baby

Your baby might have wind as they may swallow air while feeding. You can try to wind them after changing breasts or when you’ve finished feeding. For some babies winding isn’t necessary, whereas other may bring up some milk when burped.

For a demonstration, see our Winding Video or for more information read our Winding or Burping Baby article.

Feeding Frequency

For the first few weeks, your baby will probably nurse around 8 times every 24 hours. With time, feeding will become more predictable, your baby will become more efficient at breastfeeding and won’t need those long feeding times of the first weeks.

Babies have feeding cues that let you know when they want to feed before they start crying. Some of these cues include:

  • Sucking their hands
  • Waking up by wriggling and tossing
  • Becoming restless
  • Their mouth is open wide.

For more information, read our articles How Often? How Long? and How Much is Enough?

If you are unsure about your baby’s milk intake, speak to your health care professional.

Tips To Successfully Breastfeed Your Baby

This video offers a helping hand to first-time mums with learning how-to breastfeed, by going through some hints and tips to help your baby effectively latch on.

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