How To Breastfeed
Instructions On Breastfeeding For Mothers


how to breast feed diagram

How To Breastfeed


10 Steps To Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding In Public

Breastfeeding is an art form that needs to be learned.

Return To Main Article:

Breastfeeding Guide
10 Steps To Breastfeeding

1. Quiet Location
Find a quiet spot (like the bedroom) to settle down in. Until your baby is used to breastfeeding, you will find the process easier if there are few distractions and noise levels are low.

2. Place A Drink Nearby
Have a cold drink like water or juice nearby in case you become thirsty while feeding. Avoid anything hot in case you drop it on the baby. If you really would prefer a hot drink, wait until it is lukewarm before starting.

3. Get Comfortable
If you are using one of the upright breastfeeding positions, make yourself comfortable with pillows. Putting a cushion on your lap can raise the baby to a more comfortable height and help you avoid arm cramps. Take your time placing your baby in the correct position. Incorrect positioning quickly leads to breastfeeding problems like sore nipples, engorged breasts and blocked milk ducts. Lactation consultants usually recommend the cross-cradle and football hold. As soon as you are more comfortable with feeding you can introduce the cradle hold and the lying down position. Ideally your baby should only be wearing a diaper when feeding so there is plenty of skin to skin contact. You can place a blanket over his back if needed, but your skin temperature will rise to warm him.

4. Latching
Latching is where your baby makes contact with the nipple and starts suckling. This can be more difficult than it sounds and some babies will need coaxing to latch correctly. Gently tickle the baby's lip with your nipple until his mouth opens like a yawn. When the mouth is open, move the baby towards the breast and not the other way around. Many latching problems occur because the mother is hunching over the baby trying to shove the breast into the mouth. Always keep your back straight. If your baby doesn't open his mouth try rubbing your nipple on his nose and then lower it to his upper lip. Your baby is likely to open wide in response. The advantage of this technique is that it prevents his lower lip from getting tucked in. If at any point he turns his head away, gently stroke the chin facing you - his reflex will be to turn towards the breast.

5. Check The Latch
In the early days of nursing it can take time and patience for the baby to latch on well. A good latch is one that takes in the nipple and areola (brown skin surrounding the nipple). Suckling on just the nipple won't stimulate the milk glands and leads to sore nipples. Ideally you will see little of the areola, depending on the size of it and your baby's mouth. Also be sure it is the nipple he is suckling on. Some infants are so eager to feed they will suckle on any part of the breast (leaving you with bruised skin). To break a latch and start again, gently place a finger in the corner of the infant's mouth. A nipple which was being suckled correctly will look the same after feeding (if it is compressed or flat the latch was not ideal).

6. Check The Baby Is Feeding
If your baby's cheek is moving in a visible rhythmic motion this is a sign milk is flowing and being swallowed. You may not actually hear your baby swallow - the only sign may be when they pause to take a breath. When the baby has emptied one breast move him to the other.

7. Coping With Frustrations
If you or your baby become frustrated, take a short break and sit the baby upright. Talk, sing or stick your finger in his mouth for comfort. Try breastfeeding again a little while later.

8. Coping With A Crying Baby
Do not try and feed a screaming or crying baby. Ideally he will show signs of hunger and an interest in feeding before the screams kick in. Crying is usually a sign of latent hunger. If a frenzy has started, try rocking him to calm him down before presenting a breast. Latching can be difficult at the best of times, it is nearly impossible with a hysterical baby!

9. Learn To Relax
Tension and stress can hamper milk supply while breastfeeding and generate stress in your baby. If you have visitors, send them away 15 minutes before feeding time to allow yourself time to relax (try listening to soothing music) and prepare for feeding.

10. Keep Track Of Feedings
Make a written note of each feeding - how long they take as well as the number of soiled or wet nappies produced every day. While this may sound obsessive, it really will help give a sense of how well breastfeeding is going. It is highly useful information which your pediatrician or nurse can use to judge your baby’s progress. There should be at least 6 wet nappies (urine should be clear to pale yellow and not dark yellow) and 3 soiled nappies over a 24 hour period. Aim to feed 8 or 12 times in a 24 hour period but never force your baby to suckle. On average it will take about 30 to 40 minutes a feed (15 or 20 minutes on each breast).

Breastfeeding In Public

Many women feel uncomfortable feeding in public, either because of their own views or those of others. It is important to remember that you are not doing anything inappropriate. Even though it may feel taboo in some places, public awareness of the need to support moms on the go is growing. The U.S. federal government (and the UK government) has passed laws that help protect nursing moms in public areas like shopping malls. It is now illegal to ask a nursing mom to leave places like a cafe, shop or public transport. The main requirement for public nursing is confidence! Wear your right-to-feed with pride.


• Wear clothes that allow easy access to your breasts such as tops that button down or pull up from the waist. Soft bras that do not have an underwire are easier to pull up. Use a breastfeeding blanket (or scarf) to cover the baby and your breasts - although you may find your baby does not like being covered. Its a matter of try it and see.
• Practice at home so you are comfortable with the amount of skin you expose.
• As soon as you arrive in a place, scout a location that you can breastfeed comfortably. Don't wait until feeding time.
• Breastfeed your baby in a sling. Slings are convenient for traveling and they keep the baby close so less of the breast is exposed.

  Related Articles on Breast Feeding

For more tips, see the following:

Benefits of breastfeeding: For both mom and baby.
Disadvantages of breastfeeding: Don't forget the cons!

Back to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

original content

Please Note: Information provided on this site is no substitute for professional medical help. See Disclaimer.
Copyright. All rights reserved.