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Tips for Breastfeeding

Tips for Breastfeeding

Written by Andrina Wilson - Registered Midwife & Certified Holistic Sleep Consultant

Breastfeeding your baby can be one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of your life. It isn’t always easy, but it is almost always worth it.

Patience & Perseverance

Although breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do for your baby, it isn’t always easy from the get go. It takes time for both you and your baby to figure things out, but with a bit of perseverance, patience and our top tips below, you’ll be breastfeeding like a pro in no time our way again.

My #1 tip for any expectant mother who wishes to breastfeed is: Have realistic expectations.

How to establish successful feeding


Prepare before the birth


Before your baby is born, take the time to do a little research - talk to friends who have breastfed before and ask their experiences. Hopefully they are positive experiences but don’t be frightened if they tell you their “horror stories” - those are their stories and will not necessarily happen to you. Ask them about any challenges they faced and how they overcame them. It’s more than likely they will tell you that the first week or two was hard, but things improved from there.

You could watch a few breastfeeding videos, or learn how to express colostrum. Stanford Medical School has some great information about hand expressing breastmilk. You can give it a try yourself if you are over 36 weeks gestation, but unless your Lead Maternity Carer has suggested you express colostrum before your baby is born, avoid stimulating too much as this could lead to premature labour.

Skin to Skin

Before your baby is even born, ask your Lead Maternity Carer to put the baby skin to skin right away. This means that your baby will be delivered and immediately put onto your chest. Your midwife will dry the baby on your chest and only take them away if medically necessary. Keep your baby skin to skin for as long as possible, at least an hour and until well after your first breastfeed. This close contact helps babies to regulate their heartbeat, breathing and temperature and adapt to life in the outside world. It also stimulates your baby’s interest in feeding and you will often find they begin mouthing and looking for a nipple shortly after birth.

The First Feed

The first feed is very important. Ask your midwife to assist you to get a good latch, so you avoid any nipple damage from the word go.

Babies are often very alert and feed well at this first feed, before having a longer ‘recovery sleep’, so this feed (as well as the delivery of the placenta) stimulates your body to begin making milk.

Feed on Demand

Feeding on demand will help to bring in your milk and establish your milk supply, which means your baby will be satisfied at each feed and not fuss. There are of course reasons that your baby may fuss at the breast but if you have a good supply, you can rule out hunger.

Babies should be fed on demand rather than on a schedule. Midwives often suggest three hourly feeding as a minimum, but if your baby is hungry before then you should absolutely feed them. Three hourly is the maximum amount of time a newborn should go between feeds and this is three hours from the beginning of a feed to the beginning of the next feed.


So if your baby feeds for 45 minutes then you will put them to the breast again 2 hours, 15 minutes later (or earlier if they are interested). The exception to this is if you have established your breastfeeding relationship and supply and your baby has been gaining good amounts of weight, overnight you can let them sleep for a little longer.

Feeding on demand will help to bring in your milk and establish your milk supply, which means your baby will be satisfied at each feed and not fuss. There are of course reasons that your baby may fuss at the breast but if you have a good supply, you can rule out hunger.

Breastfeeding Latching Tips

Ask for help:
Even if you are having your second or third child and you’ve breastfed before, it is a good idea to ask your midwife to observe a feed, to check for any potential issues. Each baby is different and it takes a little time to develop your breastfeeding relationship, even if you’ve breastfed before, your baby needs to learn.

Top tips for latching:
A simple rhyme for positioning your baby for a successful latch: Tummy to tummy, chin to chest, nose to nipple, mouth to breast.

Tummy to tummy:  Ensure your baby’s head, shoulders and hips are in line, not twisted. If you are feeding in a cross cradle or cradle position, or laid back position then tummy to tummy is a good way to remember this line. If you are breastfeeding in a football or side lying position, your tummy’s may not be touching which is totally fine.

Chin to chest (or chin to breast):  Your baby’s chin should push into your breast as they open their mouth and reach up to latch on to the nipple.

Nose to nipple:  Baby’s nose should be roughly opposite your nipple, so that as they open their mouth to latch, they come up and over while you simultaneously guide your shaped nipple into their mouth. This sounds complicated but ask your midwife to help for the first few times and it will become like second nature.

Mouth to breast:  Once baby is latched on, hold the shaping for a few minutes until you feel the latch is comfortable and baby is sucking well. If it feels painful, unlatch your baby (always break the seal first) and try again.

Breastfeeding Positions

There are many positions in which you can feed your baby. Once you are more confident, you can switch between them all with ease, but to begin with you may learn the cradle or cross cradle hold, or rugby hold.

The rugby hold is especially useful if you have had a caesarean section, as your baby is not lying across your abdomen.

Laid back or biological breastfeeding can be especially useful if you have a fast supply, or if you are having trouble getting baby to come up and over the nipple for a deep latch with the other positions.


While breastfeeding does burn calories, there is no need to eat more just for the sake of it. Instead, it is recommended that you listen to your body and eat to your appetite. It is very common when breastfeeding a newborn to feel hungry all the time. If this is the case, ensure that you have lots of nutrient dense snacks on hand (such as fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers, bliss balls etc).


There are a lot of misconceptions about foods you should or shouldn’t eat while breastfeeding. The general consensus among professionals is that you should continue to eat your normal diet and only look at eliminating certain foods if you suspect they are causing a problem. If you are thinking about cutting a food group from your diet, it is a good idea to speak to your health professional about this before you do.

If you are looking to increase your milk supply, there are foods and supplements that could help. These include almonds (especially raw), oats, brewers yeast, garlic, fennel, flaxseeds. Lactation teas can be useful but one of the easiest (and yummiest) ways to increase your supply is to whip up a batch of lactation cookies which often include oats, brewers yeast and flaxseeds.

Breastfeeding Problems

One of the most common issues faced by breastfeeding mothers are painful, cracked nipples. Unfortunately, it’s very common to experience some nipple trauma when you begin your breastfeeding journey. Sometimes it is just a process of your nipples ‘hardening up’ and getting used to being touched and handled so frequently, but other times it can be because the mechanics of breastfeeding just aren’t right. This is why it is so important to ask your midwife to observe a feed, particularly if you are experiencing any pain while breastfeeding, as just one poor latch can cause a lot of damage if not corrected.

If you are experiencing cracked or sore nipples, you already have everything you need to help: Breastmilk, fresh air and sunlight.

Breastmilk has antibacterial, antifungal, and healing properties so expressing a little and rubbing onto your nipples can help fight off any germs and promote healing. If you can, leave your breasts out for a few minutes while the milk dries, the fresh air helps to dry things out. Moisture breeds bacteria much more quickly, so regular fresh air can help your nipples to heal faster.

Likewise, sunlight is an excellent healer for all types of wounds, so enjoy a few minutes of sunbathing after each feed for faster nipple healing. Blocked milk ducts can be common while breastfeeding. To avoid blocked ducts, massage your breasts daily (ideally in the shower) from your armpit to your nipple, focusing on any lumps that you can feel under the skin. If there are stubborn lumps that you can’t massage out, try massaging while feeding your baby as this can really help. While it is normal for your breasts to feel lumpy while breastfeeding, it is important not to ignore any large or painful lumps. They could be mastitis, or another breast condition and it’s important to get them checked by your health care provider.

Mastitis is inflammation of the breasts caused by an infection. This inflammation results in redness, warmth and breast pain. If you think you may have mastitis, it is important to contact your midwife immediately and she can advise if antibiotics are required.


For further breastfeeding advice, speak to your midwife or a qualified lactation consultant.

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