Many people assume breastfeeding just comes ‘naturally’ but it’s a learning process for many new parents and babies. Here are our tips on getting the hang of it…
Before having a baby, many expectant parents worry about the birth but think breastfeeding will ‘just happen’. And in many instances, it does. But for some, breastfeeding is not that instant. It’s more of a skill that you and your baby figure out together.
Here are some ideas on how you and your baby can find your own groove when it comes to breastfeeding. And don’t forget, thanks to your membership we have a team of accredited practitioners working on our Infant Feeding Line who can help. The line is free to access and is open every day 8am to midnight. Call 0300 330 0700.
Make sure you and your baby are relaxed and comfy
Before you begin, it’s really important to make sure you and your baby are relaxed and comfy. If your baby is comfortably positioned and attached, this will help prevent sore nipples and make it possible for your baby to take your milk effectively.
There isn’t one correct way to breastfeed. You can try different ways to find what works for you and your baby. Here are some tips:
The following steps apply to when you’re breastfeeding while you’re sitting up and using cradle or underarm hold positions. A slightly different approach is laid-back breastfeeding, where the baby is using more of their natural reflexes to feed.
Once you’re sitting comfortably, you can begin…
1. Bring your baby’s nose in line with your nipple. This will allow them to tip their head back to get a large mouthful of breast.
2. When your baby is ready to feed, they’ll open their mouth really wide with their tongue down. Gently touching their lips with your nipple can encourage them to do this.
3. As soon as your baby’s jaw drops and their mouth opens really wide, like a big yawn, draw their whole body closer towards you while supporting their neck, and with their chin touching your breast first.
4. Allow your baby to tip their head back to take a large mouthful of breast. Your nipple should enter the top of your baby’s mouth, not the middle, so that it goes past the hard palate towards the soft palate at the back.
If you’d like to talk to someone about any type of feeding, don’t forget you can call our infant feeding support line for free on 0300 330 0700 to talk to one of our specialist breastfeeding counsellors.
Experiencing a little discomfort when your baby first latches on in the early days is not uncommon. If nipples look sore or cracked, or if feeding is painful during the whole feed or afterwards, or you feel you baby is not managing to feed properly, do get support early.
You can call our free infant feeding support line on 0300 330 0700, and we have other sources of support, including our Baby Cafés, here. Alternatively, your midwife or health visitor can signpost you to your nearest breastfeeding support group.
The sound of milk being swallowed. Some babies are noisier gulpers than others though.
In the first few days, when colostrum (the breastmilk first produced when you start feeding) is still being produced, you might not hear much swallowing. That’s because colostrum is very low in volume. So look out for rhythmical sucks with long pauses that indicate swallowing.
If you’re not sure whether the baby is swallowing milk, you could ask your midwife or a breastfeeding supporter to observe a feed.
They can show you when your baby is swallowing. See this video for more information.
Some women describe a tingling or ‘drawing’ feeling in their breasts.
It might take several attempts to get your baby attached correctly – and that means comfortably – for you both. You’re both learning something new together so try to relax and take your time.
We support all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our free helpline between 8am and midnight on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions.
UK Association of Milk Banking has information on its network of milk banks across the UK.
Best Beginnings: view video footage online from ‘bump to breastfeeding’.
Healthtalk.org provides a comprehensive library of face-to-face interviews where parents share their experiences about breastfeeding, birth, parenting and many other issues.