How to Breastfeed: Step by Step

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Your Care Instructions

Breastfeeding is a skill that gets better with practice. Breastfeed your baby whenever he or she is hungry. In the first 2 weeks, your baby will feed about every 1 to 3 hours.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to breastfeed. It shows just one position that you can use for breastfeeding.

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you are having trouble getting your baby to latch on.

How to Breastfeed

Get ready to breastfeed

Woman in chair holding her baby in her lap
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slide 1 of 3, Get ready to breastfeed,
  1. Sit in a comfortable chair. Support your baby on a pillow on your lap.

Support your breast

Woman holding breast in one hand and baby's head in the other
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slide 2 of 3, Support your breast,
  1. Support and narrow your breast with one hand using a "U hold." Your thumb will be on the outer side of your breast. Your fingers will be on the inner side.
  2. You can also use a "C hold," with all your fingers below the nipple and your thumb above it.

Position your baby

Baby lying on side in front of breast
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slide 3 of 3, Position your baby,
  1. Your other arm is behind your baby's back, with your hand supporting the base of the baby's head.
  2. Point your fingers and thumb toward your baby's ears.

Get baby to open mouth

Baby opening mouth wide in front of breast
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slide 1 of 2, Get baby to open mouth,
  1. Wait until your baby opens up really wide, like a big yawn. You can touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple to get your baby to open his or her mouth.
  2. Bring the baby quickly to your breast—not your breast to the baby.
  3. Guide your breast into his or her mouth.

Listen for sucking sounds

Baby breastfeeding
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slide 2 of 2, Listen for sucking sounds,
  1. The nipple and a large part of the darker area around the nipple (areola) should be in the baby's mouth. The baby's lips should be flared out, not folded in.
  2. Listen for regular sucking and swallowing sounds while the baby is feeding. If you cannot see or hear swallowing, watch your baby's ears. They will wiggle slightly when the baby swallows.

Break the seal to stop feeding

Index finger in corner of baby's mouth to stop breastfeeding
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slide 1 of 1, Break the seal to stop feeding,
  1. To remove your baby from your breast, put one finger in the corner of his or her mouth.
  2. Push your finger between your baby's gums to gently break the seal. If you do not break the tight seal before you remove your baby, your nipples can become sore, cracked, or bruised.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 30, 2016