Skip to main content

Top tips for early breastfeeding

✔ A well attached baby will be able to feed effectively

✔ Ask for help if you are not sure your baby is well attached

✔ Aim to breastfeed your baby about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours

✔ The best way to prevent uncomfortable full breasts on day 3 to 5 is to breastfeed frequently.

Positioning your baby for breastfeeding

Mothers and babies learn to breastfeed together. Getting the positioning and attachment right can take a little time - ask for help if you are not sure.

  • Hold your baby really close to your body, baby’s chest should snuggle close to your breast. Ensure that baby’s head and body is facing you
  • Move baby so their nose is opposite your nipple
  • Bring baby’s chin in close to your breast – head is now well tilted back
  • Your nipple should now be pointing up your baby’s nose. Wait for your baby to open their mouth wide. Bring your baby to the breast

If your baby is well attached breastfeeding should be comfortable. If feeding is painful - ask for help as soon as possible from a midwife, health visitor or trained Peer Supporter.

Keeping your breasts comfortable when your milk increases

These measures are particularly helpful before breastfeeding, as it is easier for baby to attach to a softer breast.

  • Warmth stimulates milk flow and will help soften the breast apply warm flannels or have a warm bath or shower
  • Massage your breasts to soften and promote milk flow
  • Hand express to soften the nipple and areola. Watch this useful video from Unicef on hand expressing for more information. 
  • Use a breast pump gently to soften the breast but make sure you prepare the breast with warmth and massage before using it
  • Apply cool compresses e.g. cold flannels (keep them ready in a plastic bag in the fridge)
  • Make sure your bra fits comfortably and avoid wearing underwired bras until your breasts have settled down
  • Taking a pain reliever or simple anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce discomfort

Early breast fullness usually resolves quickly with the simple measures outlined above. If pain and swelling persist or you feel unwell with flu like symptoms or high temperature speak to your Midwife, Health Visitor or Doctor.

How well is your baby breastfeeding?

  • Has your baby had 8 feeds or more in 24 hours?
  • Is your baby feeding for between 5 and 40 minutes at each feed?
  • Is your baby generally calm and relaxed whilst feeding and seems content after most feeds?
  • When your baby is over 3 days old, can you hear baby swallowing frequently during feeds?
  • Does your baby have 6 or more wet nappies a day (after first 5 days)?
  • Does your baby produce at least 2 yellow coloured poos that are more than the size of a £2 coin (after the first 5 days)?
  • Is your baby back to birth weight by 14 days?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, talk to your Midwife or Health Visitor.

Breastfeeding and bed sharing

Many mothers find that feeding their baby lying down in bed helps them cope with night time feeding and helps them get more rest but this must be done safely. Further information can be found in the caring for your baby at night and when sleeping Unicef booklet.

Top Tips for all naps, not just for night time:

  • Discuss night time feeding - ask your Midwife or Health Visitor to show you how to position yourself and your baby safely for breastfeeding lying down in bed
  • Your baby should not be between two adults when feeding in bed
  • Never wrap or swaddle your baby – your baby needs to use their arms and legs to communicate with you whilst in the bed
  • Never put your baby in a sleeping bag whilst feeding
  • Position baby’s cot close to your bed to make transferring baby easier
  • Lie baby on a cot sheet whilst feeding and use this to help transfer baby to the cot