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How to Breastfeed: Step by Step

Overview

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. That often works out to about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.

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, midwife, public health nurse, or lactation consultant 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
slide 1 of 6
slide 1 of 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 4 of 6, Get baby to open mouth,
  1. Touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple to get your baby to open his or her mouth. Wait until your baby opens up really wide, like a big yawn.
  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
slide 5 of 6
slide 5 of 6, 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.

How to break the latch

Index finger in corner of baby's mouth to break latch
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slide 6 of 6, How to break the latch,
  1. To break your baby's latch, put one finger in the corner of his or her mouth.
  2. Push your finger between your baby's gums to gently break the latch. If you don't break the latch 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

Enter V691 in the search box to learn more about "How to Breastfeed: Step by Step".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.