How to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding and bonding with your new baby

A mother holds her sleeping baby.

Breastfeeding and bonding with your new baby

Breastfeeding is a great way for you and your new baby to bond. To help make breastfeeding a successful and enjoyable experience for both of you, try these breastfeeding tips.

Wash your hands before breastfeeding to prevent transferring any germs to your baby.

Find a comfortable position for you and your baby, with your baby’s chest against your belly and chin to your breast. Baby’s head should be tilted slightly back to open the throat.

Hold your breast with your hand cupped underneath the breast in a c-shape with your fingers away from the areola (the darkened skin surrounding the nipple).

Point the nipple upward toward your baby’s mouth and tickle the lips until he or she opens their mouth wide and the lips are flanged outward (fish lips).

Be sure your baby gets a large portion of your areola in their mouth, not just the nipple. Look for signs of proper latching including the baby staying on the breast, the sound of swallowing and an absence of pain.

Do not pull the baby away from your breast while he or she is suckling. First, break the suction with a clean finger by sliding it between your baby’s gums and then gently pull your baby away from your breast.

Let your baby guide how often you breastfeed. Most babies breastfeed between eight and 12 times in a 24-hour period. In the first few days, your baby may be too tired to cry when hungry, so look for signs of hunger including lip smacking, moving the hands and arms toward the mouth and fussing or fidgeting, even during sleep.

Let your baby feed until full. Your baby might show that he or she is full by self-detaching, reducing sucking or drifting off to sleep.

Avoid nipple confusion by exclusively breastfeeding for the first several weeks, if possible, and avoid bottles and pacifiers. This will make it easier for your baby to breastfeed on a regular basis without becoming too attached to a bottle.

While breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby, it may not feel natural to you at first. It’s important to be patient during the first days and weeks of breastfeeding. Don’t worry if it takes time to get used to the process — this is a new experience for both you and your baby.

Be sure to ask questions during your hospital stay. Lactation consultants are available at all Scripps maternity units to help you feel comfortable and confident about feeding your baby at home.