Some aspects of breastfeeding may come naturally. But learning some breastfeeding skills and techniques can help you be more successful. Before
your baby is born, take classes, read books, and watch videos that demonstrate
If you have concerns about your ability to
breastfeed, talk to a lactation consultant while you are pregnant. After your
baby is born, it is helpful to have one-on-one instruction with a lactation
specialist or other knowledgeable health professional.
Get set up
Breastfeeding may go
more smoothly in the first days and weeks if you and your baby are
relaxed and comfortable.
Make sure the room is
quiet and warm and that you are able to relax. Keep the room darkened. Bright light makes it
difficult for newborns to open their eyes.
Keep something to drink nearby.
Most women get thirsty as they breastfeed. Drink enough to satisfy your
Use one or more pillows to support your arms
and the baby, support your back with a pillow, and use a stool to raise your feet. This will help you and your baby be more comfortable during
Do not bend over your baby when breastfeeding.
Bring the baby to you-not you to the baby. Bending toward the baby can lead to back and neck
Find a position that is comfortable
for both you and your baby. For all positions, make sure the baby’s head and
chest are lined up straight and not turned to one side or tilted
up or down while breastfeeding.
Wake up baby
Having an alert baby will make it easier to get your baby to latch on. To wake your baby you can:
Cool your baby off by taking off his or her clothes. Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as you place him or her for feeding. Keep a light-weight blanket nearby.
Tickle your baby lightly wherever you get a reaction (on the feet, neck, top of the head, or stomach).
Change your baby’s diaper.
Get baby latched on
proper latch helps prevent problems.
Lightly touch the middle of your
baby’s lower lip with your nipple until the baby opens his or her mouth. The
baby’s mouth needs to be wide open, like a yawn, before attempting to
Support and narrow your breast with one hand. This will help you control your breast as you bring your baby onto your breast.
Bring the baby quickly onto the nipple
and the areola (the dark circle around the nipple), so it goes deep into your
baby’s mouth. If
the baby does not immediately get the idea to suck, squeeze a little milk into
his or her mouth.
for a regular sucking and swallowing pattern while the baby is feeding. If you
cannot see or hear a swallowing pattern, watch the baby’s ears, which may
wiggle slightly when the baby swallows.
If the baby’s nose appears
to be blocked by your breast, reposition him or her by raising the baby’s hips
or relaxing the baby’s head back slightly, so just the edge of one nostril is
clear for breathing.
Provide a complete feeding
Let your baby feed until he or she is satisfied.
Offer the other breast
when the first breast feels empty and the infant sucks more slowly, pulls off,
or loses interest. Usually the baby will continue breastfeeding, though
perhaps for less time than on the first breast.
Anytime you need to
remove your baby from the breast, put one finger into the corner of his or her
mouth and push your finger between your baby’s gums to gently break the seal.
If you do not break the tight seal before you remove the baby from your breast,
your nipples can become sore, cracked, or bruised.
If your baby falls asleep
before finishing breastfeeding, you may need to stimulate him or her to finish
the feeding. After
a while, you will learn your baby’s patterns and will know whether he or she
needs rousing or has fed long enough.
When your baby is satisfied, gently
pat his or her back to help him or her let out any swallowed air. After the
baby burps, offer the breast again. Sometimes a baby will want to continue
feeding after being burped.
Other Places To Get Help
La Leche League International
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Women’s Health
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC – Lactation Consultant