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Pregnancy and baby

Breastfeeding: positioning and attachment

How do I know if my baby is properly latched?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2017

How to breastfeed

Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learnt, and it can take time and practice to get the hang of it. There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding. You just need to check the following points:

  • Are you comfortable? It's worth getting comfortable before a feed. Remember to relax your shoulders and arms when you feed. 
  • 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 on 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.

See Start4Life's visual guide to latching your baby on.

How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk

  • Your baby will appear content and satisfied after most feeds.
  • They should be healthy and gaining weight after the first two weeks.
  • Your breasts and nipples should not be sore.
  • 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 yellow stools every day.

See more on building up your milk supply.

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 bond with your premature baby and increases your milk supply.

Read more information about breastfeeding a premature baby.

More information on breastfeeding

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

If you have any questions or concerns, you can always speak to your midwife or health visitor, or call the national breastfeeding helpline on 0300 100 0212.  

Page last reviewed: 02/10/2014

Next review due: 02/10/2016


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