The Basics to Breastfeeding Your Baby

Throughout the 9 months of your pregnancy, nature ensures that your body will be prepared to breast feed your baby. Breastfeeding will give your baby the best source of nutrients, and result in a good healthy start for your baby.

Breastfeeding and nursing your baby is an acquired skill. For both mom and baby, this will require time and patience on both parts. Breastfeeding comes more natural for some mothers and babies, but don’t feel pressure to perform.

If you happen to experience some difficulties in breastfeeding your baby, you can contact your local La Leche League and they will be happy to supply a local lactation consultant. They specialize in helping a new mother to breastfeed her baby, and have a lot of resources to ensure your breastfeeding success!

The First Two Days After Giving Birth

Most healthcare providers will encourage a mother to begin breastfeeding her baby as soon as possible. Some instances when breastfeeding a baby isn’t encouraged is when there was a difficulty in delivery such as a cesarean section. You will find that many babies immediately take to the breast, and find themselves breastfeeding with little to no effort. However, there are some cases such as a premature birth of a baby where the mother has a problem while trying to breastfeed her baby. If this is the case a mother can still stroke her baby, and encourage the baby to begin breastfeeding when it is ready.

Having Success in Breastfeeding

The best way to start breastfeeding your baby is to create an environment that is as calm as possible, as it will help provide both you and baby a soothing atmosphere to breastfeed. Keeping a drink nearby is a helpful tip to breastfeeding, as it will keep up your fluid intake.

One key to a successful breastfeeding is being in a comfortable nursing position. In general, most new mothers nurse and breastfeed their baby while sitting upright on a chair. Some women breastfeed with their feet raised and a pillow (or boppy pillow) on their lap, as that creates a natural, comfortable position for the breastfeeding of baby to take place. If you find that you are tired when you need to breastfeed, lay down on your side. Some women who are experiencing fatigue after their pregnancy find this to be the most relaxing way for them to begin breastfeeding.

An important thing to remember while breastfeeding your baby is to ensure that the baby is held close to your whole body, facing your breast. The baby’s chest should be next to your chest, and you should be able to bring your baby close to your breast easily, to allow an simple position for breastfeeding.

Positioning Your Baby Before Breastfeeding

Before you begin breastfeeding your baby, make sure both you and baby are comfortable. If the position you choose to breastfeed your baby is upright, make sure that baby’s head is supported by either your forearm or hold her head and shoulders with the hand that you have free. While your baby is breastfeeding, their head should be at the same level as your nipple, as this will allow the proper angle for you baby to suck and breastfeed successfully.

Another thing that might assist you in breastfeeding is to cup your breast with your hand. By supporting your breast with your fingers against your ribs, you provide your baby the most opportune ability to breastfeed. One thing to avoid is to pinch your nipple between two fingers, as it can prevent your baby from breastfeeding successfully. Some babies have the natural breastfeeding instinct, where the automatically begin to suck on your nipple as soon as they feel your breast on their cheek.

Ensure that Your Baby Has Latched On

Although it may feel unnatural, make sure your baby is breastfeeding with as much of your breast in their mouth as possible. Your baby is properly positioned if they are breastfeeding with a “mouthful” of breast, including your nipple and perhaps most of the areola.

While breastfeeding, your baby’s bottom lip should be curled back, as their jaw muscles will work almost rhythmically. If you notice that your baby’s cheeks are caving in while breastfeeding, then they aren’t suckling properly, and might make the breastfeed unsuccessful. If this is the case, to ensure proper breastfeeding you should reposition yourself or your baby and try again.

Changing Breasts if Necessary

Most babies breastfeed with various sucking patterns – from short sucks to longer bursts of sucking and sometimes with pauses in between. Your baby will let you know if your breast is empty by falling asleep or letting your nipple fall out of their mouth. This means that it’s time to breastfeed with the other breast.

If you feel that you need to stop your baby from breastfeeding, the easiest and most effective way is to break the breastfeed with your fingers. If your baby refuses to breastfeed with your other breast, let some time pass and the try breastfeeding again with the other nipple.


You may notice that a few days after you deliver your baby, your breast might begin to feel swollen. This is called engorgement of the breasts, and might even feel painful with accumulations of blood and milk. Breastfeeding as much as eight times within a 24 hour period might help alleviate this pain. One thing you can do is to make engorgement of the breast feel better, is to express a little bit of breast milk before you baby begins breastfeeding.