Pregnancy and baby

Breastfeeding: positioning and attachment

How do I know if my baby is properly latched?

Media last reviewed: 17/04/2012

Next review due: 17/04/2014

Skin-to-skin contact

All mothers and babies should have the opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact straight after birth. This will keep your baby close, warm and calm, and it will steady their breathing.

Video: watch an animation that shows how to make sure your baby is attaching well at the breast

This can be a bonding experience for mum and baby. It's also a great time to start your first breastfeed because your baby will be alert and keen to feed. If you need any help, your midwife will offer support with positioning and attachment.

Your baby will be happier if you keep them near you and feed them whenever they’re hungry. This will remind your body to produce plenty of milk.

Skin-to-skin contact is good at any time. It will help to comfort you and your baby over the first few days and weeks as you get to know each other.

Skin-to-skin after a caesarean

If your baby is born by caesarean section, you should still be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after the birth. Some births involve complications that mean skin-to-skin may be delayed. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to breastfeed your baby. Your midwife will help you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as it's possible.

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 to bond with your premature baby, and it increases your milk supply. Read more information about breastfeeding a premature baby.

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 when you feed to relax your shoulders and arms. 
  • 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 allow them to reach up and attach to the breast well.

How to attach your baby to your breast

1. Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple.
2. 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.
3. Bring your baby on to your breast.
4. 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.

How to know that 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.

More information

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. Go to Breastfeeding problems for more information and advice.

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.

Breastfeeding animation

This video by Best Beginnings demonstrates clearly how to make sure your baby is attaching well to the breast.

Media last reviewed: 12/06/2012

Next review due: 12/06/2014

Page last reviewed: 02/10/2012

Next review due: 02/10/2014

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