How to breastfeed

woman in breastfeeding position

Get ready and relaxed

  • Settle down in a warm, quiet, darkened room. Some newborns have trouble opening their eyes in bright light.

  • Have a drink of water nearby. Your baby isn’t the only one who will get thirsty.

  • Use pillows to support your arms and the baby. You can also support your back with another pillow and use a stool to raise your feet.

Get in the right position

  • After your baby finishes on one breast, switch and offer the other side. You don't need to limit how much time your baby feeds at each breast.
  • Change positions now and then to help prevent blocked milk ducts and reduce nipple soreness.

Get your baby properly latched on

Latching can be tricky, so don’t be discouraged if you have trouble at first. Like any new skill, getting your baby to latch takes patience and practice. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Sit tummy-to-tummy with your baby, with your little one’s head and body lined up straight.
  • Support your breast with one hand, and use your other arm to support your baby’s back and head.
  • Touch your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. When they open their mouth wide, bring your baby firmly to your breast and guide your breast in.
  • Your baby’s lips should be flared outward over your breast.
  • When you hear a regular sucking and swallowing pattern, it means your baby is properly latched on.
  • Relax and feed your little one. Your baby’s ears will wiggle slightly with each swallow. How cute is that?

How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk

For the first few days after delivery, your body makes colostrum — small amounts of very concentrated, highly nutritious milk. This is all your baby will need at first, and it won’t be long before your milk supply increases. You can be confident that your newborn is getting plenty of nourishment if he or she:

  • Wakes up frequently, eager to eat
  • Rhythmically sucks and swallows milk
  • Breastfeeds until your breast feels soft
  • Has plenty of wet and dirty diapers
  • Feeds at least every 1 to 3 hours
  • Grows at a normal rate

Breastfeeding best practices

Easing Discomfort

You might be a little sore during your first few days of breastfeeding, but it shouldn’t really hurt. If it does, let us know. One of our lactation consultants can help you figure out what’s causing your pain — for example, your baby could be having problems latching on. In the meantime, here are some things you can try at home:

  • Make sure latch is picture-perfect: baby’s body in alignment, with his or her chin touching your breast and the tongue below your nipple.
  • If your baby has latched on in the wrong position, gently break the suction using your finger, and start again.
  • Use a nipple cream that contains lanolin to prevent cracked or sore nipples.

Preventing painful swelling

It’s normal for your breasts to feel more full — larger, heavier, and uncomfortable — when your milk first comes in, 2 to 5 days after your baby is born. If you keep feeding your baby often, your body will adjust, usually in less than 24 hours. But some new moms experience more serious swelling called engorgement, which can lead to problems like blocked milk ducts or mastitis. To ease uncomfortable swelling and help prevent engorgement:

  • Nurse your baby frequently
  • Take a warm shower or hold a warm washcloth to your breast before feeding your baby.
  • Apply a cool compress to your breast after nursing.

If you’re uncomfortably swollen and these tips aren’t working for you, let us know. We’ll connect you with a lactation consultant who can help.