Like anything else, breastfeeding can take a bit of practice -so don’t worry if you and your baby don’t get the hang of it straight away.
It’s good to start each breastfeed in a position where you feel comfortable and relaxed.
- If you’re sitting. Keep your back straight, your lap almost flat and your feet flat on the floor. Support your back and arms with pillows to help raise your baby, if necessary.
- If you’re lying down. Lie on your side with a pillow supporting your head. Roll over to change breasts.
Holding your baby
There are different ways to hold your baby while breastfeeding, including the cradle hold and side lying hold – read more about them in our article Breastfeeding positions https://www.meandmychild.com.au/feeding/breastfeeding-positions/
Getting your baby to attach to the nipple correctly is important -it helps prevent nipple soreness and makes sure the baby gets enough milk. Hold the baby close with their nose or top lip opposite your nipple. Bring them to the breast when their mouth is wide open so that they can take a big mouthful of your breast (Gently brushing their lips with your nipple can coax them to open their mouth). The baby has latched on well if:
- Their mouth is wide open
- Their chin is touching your breast
- They have a big mouthful of breast
- The baby is taking long, deep sucks
- You feel no pain
For a demonstration, see our video below.
Should you feed from one breast or two?
That depends on your baby. In the early days when your milk supply is still adapting to your baby’s needs, it helps to let your baby stay on the first breast as long as they’re sucking well and you’re comfortable. When your baby comes off one breast see if they want to feed from the other or return to the first.
How long is each feed?
In the early weeks feeds can be as long as the baby needs, providing there’s no nipple soreness and the baby is sucking well. Feeding times will get shorter as the baby grows.
How often should I breastfeed?
That’s up to the baby. Feeds can be unpredictable at first – sometimes there may be only two hours between feeds but much longer at other times. Most babies feed around eight times in a 24 hour period; others feed more often. Breastfeeding babies as often as they want helps keep up your milk supply – the more they feed, the more milk you make.
It’s best to feed babies before they start crying from hunger – if they become upset they may not attach so well to the nipple.
Signs the baby wants to feed include:
- They lick or smack their lips
- Their mouth is wide open
- They keep putting their hands to their mouth
- They nuzzle your breast (or the chest of the person carrying them)
Burping the baby
Babies may swallow air when feeding or crying which can make them unsettled. Burping (or ‘winding’) them helps to get rid of some of this air. You can try to wind them after changing breasts or when you’re finished feeding. For some babies winding isn’t necessary, whereas other may bring up some milk when burped.
Looking after you
The early weeks with a new baby can be very demanding – don’t forget to make time for you and rest whenever you can.