How to Breastfeed: Step by Step

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Breastfeeding is a skill that can get better with practice. Breastfeed your baby whenever they're hungry. Offer both breasts to your baby at each feeding. In the first 2 weeks, your baby will feed at least 8 times in a 24-hour period.

Talk to your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant if your baby or you are having trouble breastfeeding. Support can also come from a trusted friend or family member who knows how to breastfeed.

Get ready. Find a place to sit where you feel relaxed and comfortable. Make sure your back is supported. Try using a pillow on your lap to support your baby.

Try supporting your breast with one hand.

  • U hold: Your thumb is on the outer side of your breast. Your fingers are on the inner side.
  • C hold: Your thumb is above the darker area around the nipple (areola). Your fingers are below.

Use your other hand and arm to hold your baby. Support the base of their head.

Try different positions if you need to. Find what works for you and your baby. Different holds include cradle, cross-cradle, football, Australian, laid back, and side-lying.

Help your baby latch. Touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple. Wait until your baby's mouth opens wide. Bring your baby quickly to your breast, and guide your breast into their mouth.

Look for a good latch. Make sure that your nipple and much of your areola are in your baby's mouth. Your baby's lips are flared out, not folded in.

Listen for regular sucking and swallowing sounds. If you can't see or hear swallowing, watch your baby's ears. They'll wiggle slightly when your baby swallows.

Break the latch if you need to. Put one finger in the corner of your baby's mouth between your breast and your baby's gums. This helps prevent cracking and painful nipples.

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.