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How to Get Started Breastfeeding

Make breastfeeding easier for you and your baby by starting off right.


  • Step 1: Check with your doctor Talk to your doctor about whether breastfeeding is right for you, especially if you are taking any medications or supplements or if you’ve had breast surgery. You may also want to visit a lactation consultant.
  • TIP: If you decide to breastfeed, start within 2 hours after delivery; your baby’s sucking instinct will be strong at that time.
  • Step 2: Get comfortable Find a position that’s comfortable for both of you. Choices include the Cradle hold… The Clutch, or 'Football' hold… The Side-lying position… Or the Cross Cradle.
  • TIP: The Clutch, or 'Football' hold, is recommended for women with big breasts, or those who’ve had a C-section because the baby is not resting on the mom’s abdomen. It’s also good for nursing premature babies since it offers the best control over the baby’s head.
  • Step 3: Support your breast With your free hand, support your breast by placing four fingers underneath and your thumb on top.
  • Step 4: Give baby a nudge Gently brush your baby’s lips with your nipple to get her to open her mouth wide. When she does, hug her close to your chest. Make sure her lips are turned outward, her tongue is down, and her mouth is covering most of the areola, creating a complete seal. You should hear a quiet sound of swallowing… You should not hear clicking or smacking noises.
  • Step 5: Stop if it hurts If you feel pain when the baby starts to suck, gently place your finger in the corner of her mouth to get her to release your breast, and start again. Nursing may make your breasts feel tender, but they should not hurt. Pain indicates the baby isn’t latched on correctly.
  • TIP: Don’t give your baby a pacifier until after she learns to breastfeed. The different sucking motion may confuse her.
  • Step 6: Relieve engorged breasts Don’t be alarmed if your breasts become engorged with milk a few days after birth—this is very common. Breastfeeding more frequently will relieve the situation. Massage and warm compresses can also soothe your breasts.
  • Step 7: Protect your nipples To keep your nipples from becoming cracked, let them air-dry after each feeding. If they do crack, put a little breast milk on them, or apply pure lanolin or a hydrogel pad, available at pharmacies.
  • TIP: Cracked nipples can indicate that your baby is sucking on the tip of your nipple, rather than covering the entire areola.
  • Step 8: Beware of infection Call your doctor if you develop a fever or lumps and redness around the breast: these are signs of an infection. Skipping feedings increases the risk of lumps, plugged ducts, and infection. Getting enough sleep reduces your chances of breast infections.
  • Step 9: Keep baby full Expect to breastfeed every couple of hours: Most newborns eat 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. And avoid giving your baby any other liquids, it will interfere with her ability to absorb the vitamins in your milk.
  • Step 10: Stay nourished Your body burns about 500 calories a day making breast milk, so eat nourishing foods and stay hydrated.
  • Step 11: Limit alcohol Abstain from alcohol for the first month of breastfeeding, then limit intake to no more than one drink per day. To prevent your baby from ingesting alcohol, do not breastfeed within two hours of having a drink.
  • Step 12: Be patient Be patient. Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned. But it will get easier over time.
  • FACT: Babies who are breastfed for the first six months of their lives are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, and upper-respiratory infections.

You Will Need

  • A newborn
  • Healthy breasts

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