How to Breastfeed

Three Methods:Being PreparedBreastfeedingStaying Healthy While You Breastfeed

With the invention of prepared baby formula, baby bottles and sterilizers, breast feeding is quickly becoming a lost art. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding through the first year of your baby's life because it contains all the necessary nutrients for your baby, and is specially designed for your baby's digestive system. Breast milk also provides baby with many immunities that the mother has acquired and can assist the mother in losing weight gained in pregnancy. If you want to breastfeed, just follow these steps.

Method 1
Being Prepared

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    Make yourself a nursing station. Try feeding when sitting in a large comfortable chair, recliner or sofa; any of these will make it easier to settle down to nurse. Keep a large water bottle nearby, or even a good snack to fight the hunger that can come suddenly to a new mother. Ideally, the station could be near the baby's crib so you can feed the baby as quickly as possible.
    • It depends on your circumstances and perspective: some women are perfectly comfortable nursing in public, while others only do so in private.
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    Wear comfortable clothes for nursing. A nursing bra or tank can help you feed more easily in public, if you're comfortable with that. But really, any soft, comfortable button-down shirts will do just fine and will be easy to bunch and to give your baby easy access to your breasts. The more skin to skin you share with the baby, the more stimulated he will be, so there's no need for you or your baby to wear a million layers.
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    Learn to breastfeed before your baby arrives. Get help from a maternity nurse either before or right after your baby is born, or even enroll in a prenatal breastfeeding class. This can help you be relaxed and ready on the day when your baby arrives -- and he'll be hungry when he does.
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    Don't give your baby a pacifier right away. Though a pacifier will certainly do the trick -- pacify your baby -- it may make it more difficult for you to breastfeed. To keep your baby focused on sucking on your breasts instead of the pacifier, you shouldn't give him or her one until your baby reaches 3-4 weeks old. That will be enough time for your baby to become accustomed to breastfeeding. There are also arguments for using the pacifier right away; do your research to learn what's best for you and your child.[1]

Method 2

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    Feed your newborn regularly and often. All newborn babies typically need to nurse at least every two to three hours and may sleep 5 hours in a row once every 24 hours. Awaken the baby during the day at first every few hours so the long sleep period will be at night. Babies vary in the amount of time they take to nurse at each feeding. Let the baby decide he is finished with the first side. Note that the breast has natural anti-bacterial properties, so it is not necessary to wash your hands and breasts before each nursing. The breast has Montgomery glands that keep the nipple bacteria free.
    • When you first give birth, prepare to breastfeed between 0 and 2 hours of your baby's birth. You'll want him to get used to breastfeeding as soon as possible.
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    Avoid hunching to feed. The best place for your baby to nurse is in your own arms, lifted up across your body, tummy to tummy. Your goal is to be sitting straight up and leaning back a bit, so that you feel relaxed and comfortable. If you are hunching or leaning over, it will be painful for you and difficult for the baby to latch. Although you should not use a pillow to support baby, you can use one in your lap to support your arms.
    • Support your back with a pillow to make it easier for you to hold your baby.
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    Support your baby's body and head. There are many effective ways to hold a baby and nurse, including the cradle hold, cross cradle hold, and football hold. Whatever position you choose, look for a straight line, from ear to shoulder to hip. Hold the baby close so that his chest is close to yours and he is looking straight ahead or up a little.
    • Cradling your baby close to you should do the trick to keep you from needing to hunch over.
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    Aim your nipple at the top of your baby's mouth. Do this when your baby opens his or her mouth widely so that the nipple basically lays down on baby's tongue. If it doesn't open wide naturally, encourage your baby to open his mouth by gently touching his lips and mouth. Pull your baby towards you with pressure on the back, not by pushing on the head. When baby latches, it should feel like pulling, not pinching.
    • Keep one hand supporting your baby's back and one hand on your breast.
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    Let your baby feed as long as he wants to on the first breast. Some babies are more "efficient" than others, some like to nurse longer. Depending on how much milk a mother makes, a baby may not take the second side. Just make sure to switch between breasts when you start a new feeding. Listen for rhythmic, regular sucking that will let you know the baby has latched properly.
    • When your baby feeds from your breast, it should feel like a gentle pull, not a pinch or a bite.
    • When your baby is done feeding on a breast, you shouldn't pull or even yank him away. Instead, insert your finger in his mouth so that his mouth releases your breast.
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    Burp your baby (optional). This isn't always necessary. Depending on how much air the baby takes in through the nose while it is nursing, you may or may not need to burp baby. If your baby is arching his back, squirming around, and looking uncomfortable, then he may be ready to get burped. Try to burp him in one of these ways:[2]
    • Lift your baby toward your shoulder, with your hand on his head and neck for support. He should be facing the area behind you. Rub your baby's back with a firm and open hand to release the trapped air.
    • Sit your baby on your lap and lean him forward, supporting his chest with the base of your hand and his chin and neck with your fingers. Massage his stomach with your front hand and gently pat his back with the hand on his back.
    • Lie your baby on your lap with his head raised higher than his stomach. Gently pat his back until he burps.
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    Get used to the feeding and sleeping routine. A newborn baby will mostly nurse and sleep. You know when the baby is "getting enough" when there are 8-10 wet and or dirty diapers. Though this routine will be repetitive and you won't have as much time to play with your baby, it'll give you time to get some of that much-needed rest you must be missing so badly.

Method 3
Staying Healthy While You Breastfeed

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    Maintain a healthy diet. Not eating healthy may have an impact on mother's health, as most nutrients are translated into breast milk and mother essentially gets the "left-overs" Many mothers also continue to take prenatal vitamins or should take daily multivitamins to stay healthy. Eat plenty of veggies, fruits, and grains, and avoid overly fatty or greasy foods in favor of foods with nutritional value.[3]
    • Though you may be eager to drop that baby weight, now is not the time to go on an extreme diet -- unless you want to deprive your baby of the proper nutrients he needs.
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    Stay hydrated. If you want to be healthy and produce enough milk for your baby and to remain healthy, then you have to stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 oz. of water eight times a day, and add some juice, milk, or other healthy drinks into your routine.[4]
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    Avoid alcohol at least two hours before you breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that it's not harmful for a woman of average size to drink up to 2 glasses of wine or two beers during the time when she is breastfeeding (though not during breastfeeding, obviously). However, the doctors also recommend that you should wait at least two hours after consuming alcohol to breastfeed your baby.[5]
    • Additionally, you should pump your breasts in advance if you know you'll be drinking and won't be able to breastfeed for a little while.
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    Avoid smoking. Smoking can not only change the amount of your breast milk supply, but it can change the taste of your breast milk, and can make it much less appealing to your baby. This is the last thing you want. If you're breastfeeding, ditch the cigarettes.[6]
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    Be careful with the medication you take. Though you'll be just fine breastfeeding your baby while taking a number of medications, you should always check with your doctor to make sure it's okay to take any of your medications, or a new medication, while you're breastfeeding.[7]


  • Crying is often the last indicator of a baby's hunger. Don't wait until the baby cries to decide to nurse. Most babies will mewl, call, lick their lips, and even rustle about to signal that they are ready for the next meal. Breastfed babies will often root for a nipple when hungry.
  • Breast milk is produced on supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk you will make.
  • Never pull baby off of breast while they are sucking, this will lead to sore nipples, rather insert your little finger (clean) in the corner of baby's mouth to release suction
  • Stay calm and confident. Women have been nursing babies since the dawn of time.
  • Do not begin solid foods until about the middle of the first year, even if your mother or mother-in-law insists that the baby needs something, anything. Your pediatrician or your midwife can give you accurate and up to date information on safe first foods for a baby.
  • If your nipples are sore, this is a signal that the baby's latch needs to be adjusted. Watch closely when baby comes to the breast; the goal is to get the nipple in as far as possible. When the baby lets go at the end of a feeding, the nipple should look rounded, the same as when it went in.
  • Use a nursing cover to help you adjust to nursing baby around others. Start small, with friends and family members to help you adjust before you are caught out in public when baby gets hungry. As you and baby become more skilled at nursing, you will learn how to efficiently cover yourself with just your clothes and baby, eliminating the need for a cover.
  • Touching baby's cheek with your finger or nipple will elicit the "rooting reflex", causing baby to turn head towards your nipple and grasp on.
  • Gently squeezing your breast to express a small amount of breast milk will help alert baby to suckle if he is sleepy.
  • Thaw milk by letting warm water run on the bottle or overnight in the refrigerator - Do not microwave, as that will destroy the unique benefits of breast milk.
  • Be willing to trust your instincts and give your baby your best.
  • Pumped milk can be stored in the freezer in an air -tight container for up to 3 months, in the refrigerator for up to 8 days.
  • Pumping can help increase supply as well. Pumps can often be rented from hospitals if you are looking to increase milk but don't need a pump for the long term, or you can buy a personal pump. Pumps vary in quality and it is recommended that you talk to a lactation consultant and other breast feeding mothers before purchasing one.
  • Changing a wet diaper and exposing baby will help fully waken baby if it has been too long between feeds.
  • Do not use A&D ointment for sore nipples, there are several lanolin based products that are specifically designed for use on the breast and are not harmful to the baby, such as Lansinoh. This does not have to be removed prior to breastfeeding.
  • Thawed milk may be gently shaken before feeding,


  • Watch alcohol consumption while breast feeding.
  • Breastfed babies generally have loose yellow stools four or more times daily.
  • Consult a lactation consultant, midwife or doctor if:
    • Baby is still fussy after nursing.
    • Baby is not urinating or having regular bowel movements.
    • Breasts are sore, or cracked and nipples are bleeding, this may be sign that baby is not latching correctly or could indicate a more serious problem, such as mastitis.
    • Baby is not gaining weight.
    • Baby's skin and/or fingernail and/or toenail beds appear to have a yellowish tinge.
  • Breastfed babies should have eight to ten wet diapers a day.
  • Before taking any medication while you are breast feeding, make sure you talk to your doctor or lactation consultant to ensure it will not have any impact on your milk. Some medications can reduce your supply while you are taking them and other can be translated through breast milk.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth diapers or towels for burping.
  • Well-fitting nursing bra (purchased after you have the baby, because before you'll have no idea what size you are going to be).
  • Patience and the desire to succeed
  • A trusted lactation consultant you have met with at least once before baby comes, and is willing to come to you at the hospital or home to help resolve any issues you and baby may encounter. If you don't know any, contact your local hospital, health department or Le Leche League International for a list of Lactation Consultants in your area.

Article Info

Categories: Breastfeeding