Pregnancy Guide
NHS Choices

Positioning and attachment

How to breastfeed

If breastfeeding feels a bit awkward at first, don't worry.  Breastfeeding is a skill that you and your baby need to learn together, and it can take time to get used to.

There are lots of different positions you can use to breastfeed.  You need to check the following points:

  • Are you comfortable? It's worth getting comfortable before a feed. Remember when you feed to relax your shoulders and arms.
  • Are your baby's head and body in a straight line? If not, your baby might not be able to swallow easily.
  • Are you holding your baby close to you, facing your breast? Support their neck, shoulders and back. They should be able to tilt their head back and swallow easily, and shouldn't have to reach out to feed.
  • Is your baby's nose opposite your nipple? Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from beneath the nipple. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well.

How to latch your baby to your breast

  • Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple.
  • Wait until your baby opens their mouth really wide with the tongue down. You can encourage them to do this by gently stroking their top lip.
  • Bring your baby on to your breast.
  • Your baby will tilt their head back and come to your breast chin first. They should take a large mouthful of breast. Your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth.

How to tell that your baby is getting enough milk

  • Your baby will appear content and satisfied after most feeds.

  • They should be healthy and gaining weight (although it's normal for babies to lose a little weight in the first days after birth). Talk to your midwife or health visitor if you are concerned your baby is not gaining weight and is unsettled during or after breast feeds.

  • After the first few days, your baby should have at least six wet nappies a day.

  • After the first few days, they should also pass at least two soft yellow poos the size of a £2 coin every day.

Breastfeeding premature and ill babies

If your baby is in a neonatal unit in hospital after the birth, you'll probably be encouraged to try Kangaroo Care. This means that when your baby is ready, you can hold your baby against your skin regularly, usually under your clothes.

This skin-to-skin contact helps you to bond with your premature baby, and it increases your milk supply. Read more about breastfeeding a premature baby.

More information on breastfeeding

If you have any questions or concerns, you can:

  • speak to your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter
  • call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (9.30am to 9.30pm daily)

Last Updated: 08/11/2017 13:25:28