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Quick Tips: Successful Breastfeeding


These tips can help you succeed as you get used to breastfeeding your newborn.

  • Breastfeed your baby whenever your baby is hungry. In the first 2 weeks, your baby will breastfeed at least 8 times in a 24-hour period. This will help you keep up your supply of milk. Signs that your baby is hungry include:
    • Sucking on their hands.
    • Licking their lips.
    • Turning their head toward your breast.
  • Hold your baby in a comfortable position. You can hold your baby in several ways.
    • One of the most common positions is the cradle hold. One arm supports your baby, with your baby's head in the bend of your elbow. Your open hand supports your baby's bottom or back. Your baby's belly lies against yours. Put a bed pillow or a nursing pillow on your lap to support your arms and your baby.
    • If you had a C-section, try the football hold. This position keeps your baby off your belly. Tuck your baby under your arm, with your baby's body along the side you will be feeding on. Support your baby's upper body with your arm. With that hand you can control your baby's head to bring their mouth to your breast.
    • Try different positions with each feeding. If you are having problems, ask for help from your doctor or a lactation consultant.
  • Help your baby to latch on properly.
    • Support and narrow your breast with one hand. You can use a "U hold," with your thumb on the outer side of your breast and your fingers on the inner side. Or use a "C hold," with all your fingers below the nipple and your thumb above it. Try the different holds to get the deepest latch for whichever breastfeeding position you use.
    • Put your other arm behind your baby's back. Use that hand to support the base of the baby's head. Position your fingers and thumb to point toward your baby's ears.
    • Touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple to get your baby's mouth to open. Wait until your baby opens up really wide, like a big yawn.
    • Bring the baby quickly to your breast—not your breast to the baby. As you bring your baby toward your breast, use your other hand to support the breast and guide it into your baby's mouth.
    • Make sure both the nipple and a large portion of the darker area (areola) around the nipple are in the baby's mouth. The baby's lips should be flared outward, not folded in (inverted).
    • Listen for a regular sucking and swallowing pattern while the baby is feeding. If you can't see or hear a swallowing pattern, watch the baby's ears. They will wiggle slightly when the baby swallows.
    • If the baby's nose appears to be blocked by your breast, bring your baby's body closer to you. This will help tilt the baby's head back slightly, so just the edge of one nostril is clear for breathing.
    • When your baby is latched, you can usually remove your hand from supporting your breast and use it to cradle under your baby. Now just relax and breastfeed your baby.
  • Watch for these signs that your baby is feeding well.
    • Your baby's mouth covers a lot of the areola, and the lips are flared out.
    • Your baby's chin and nose rest against your breast.
    • Sucking is deep and rhythmic, with short pauses.
    • You are able to see and hear your baby swallowing.
    • You do not feel pain in your nipple.
  • Offer both breasts to your baby at each feeding. Each time you breastfeed, switch which breast you start with.
  • Break the baby's latch on your breast before moving your baby. Anytime you need to remove your baby from the breast, put one finger in the corner of your baby's mouth. Push your finger between your baby's gums to gently break the seal. If you don't break the tight seal before you remove your baby, your nipples can become sore, cracked, or bruised.
  • Burp your baby after each breast. When you finish feeding, gently pat your baby's back to let out any swallowed air. After your baby burps, offer the breast again, or offer the other breast. Sometimes a baby will want to keep feeding after being burped.

Related Information


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.