- Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby.
- Breast milk is free and does not need any preparation.
- Until around six months of age, breast milk is the only food or drink your baby needs.
- Try to breastfeed your baby for the first 12 months.
- Any breastfeeding is good for both you and your baby.
- From then on breastfeed for as long as you and your baby are happy to.
- Getting the help and support you need to breastfeed before and after your baby is born is important.
- Usually, your breasts will increase in size during your pregnancy due to hormonal influences.
- Most of the growth occurs in the first 20 weeks or in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Avoid using soaps and perfumed creams or body lotions, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Benefits of breastfeeding
- keep your baby healthy and strong
- help you feel close to your baby
- help to fight baby sickness
- help prevent health problems including gastroenteritis (tummy upsets), ear infections, allergies, chest and urinary tract infections and juvenile diabetes.
- help protect against childhood cancers, obesity and heart disease
- help your recovery from giving birth
- improves your baby’s speech, sight, muscle development
- help reduce tooth decay and gum disease in your baby
- help you return to your pre pregnant weight more quickly
- Help protect you against breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis
- Help prevent SIDS.
Additional resources on the benefits of breastfeeding
10 steps to successful breastfeeding
We follow the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding established by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement the policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Place babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour and encourage mothers to recognise when their babies are ready to breastfeed offering help when needed.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practise rooming-in - allow mothers and babies to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or dummies to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support and refer mothers on discharge from the facility.
Baby behaviour before the first breastfeed
- Once your baby is born, they are usually alert and ready to get to know you.
- Uninterrupted skin to skin contact is important for at least the first hour.
- Your baby will start mouthing; hand to mouth movements; licking fingers and touching your nipple which makes it erect and easier to attach to.
- As your breast brushes baby’s cheek, baby will turn his/her head towards your breast: open the mouth wide and protrude his/her tongue over the bottom lip to lick your nipple.
- When ready, baby will attach to your breast and begin to suck. This usually occurs within the first hour of birth.
- Babies breastfeed they don’t nipple feed.
- It is essential baby takes a good mouthful of your breast not just your nipple. Encourage your baby to self-attach for the first feed.
Breastfeeding in the first few days
- Breastmilk looks a little like skim milk. It is thin, and a whitish blue in colour
- It always has the right amount and type of nutrients, perfect for your baby.
- Your breasts will change after birth as they prepare for feeding your baby.
- This is a good time to learn and practice getting your baby on the breast (attachment).
- Your breasts are soft in the first few days before your breastmilk changes from the highly nutritious colostrum to mature milk.
- It is important during these days that your baby is offered breastfeeds frequently.
- A baby that appears sleepy may need stimulating to feed more often after the initial settling in period (around the first 24 hours).
How much breast milk your baby needs
- Your baby will have some settled periods.
- You will be reassured when you can hear swallowing sounds with feeds.
- Your baby’s wet nappies will increase in number after the milk comes in – at least 5 heavy disposable nappies in 24 hours.
- During the first few days your baby’s bowel actions change from black meconium to a soft mustard yellow in appearance.
- Most babies will have 1-3 bowel actions per day in the first 3 months of life.
- Your baby starts to gain weight after an initial loss of 5-10 % and will regain birth weight by 10 days to 2 weeks.
- There should be an average gain of 150 grams per week.
- If breastmilk supply is a problem, talk to a midwife, lactation consultant or CHAPS nurse about the many things you can do to improve your supply.
Breastfeeding positioning and attachment
- Have baby’s body facing you and held close to your body, with their mouth next to your nipple.
- Point your nipple towards baby’s nose and tickle their bottom lip with the edge of the areola until their mouth is wide open, then bring baby into your breast with your hand behind their shoulders.
- When attached well, baby’s lips should be turned outwards and their chin should be well into your breast, leaving their nose clear.
- It is normal to feel some tenderness for the first 6-8 sucks while baby stretches your nipple to the back of their mouth, then the feed should feel comfortable – not painful.
- Your baby should have rhythmic sucking with well-rounded cheeks, and you should hear swallowing.
- Your nipple may be elongated at the end of a feed but will still be a good shape and colour.
- Any problem with this – ask your midwife to review a feed with you.
Please visit the Raising Children website for more information on positioning and attachment.
Baby-led attachment is letting your baby move themselves towards your breast to feed. Babies are born knowing what to do. They will:
- start mouthing
- move their hand to their mouth
- lick their fingers
- touch your nipple which makes it erect and easier to attach to.
- Download baby feeding cues information sheet
- Download baby-led attachment to breastfeeding information sheet
- Demand feeding is feeding your baby according to their needs.
- The more often you feed the more milk you will make.
- Keeping your baby in your room allows you to recognise hunger cues and provides the right environment for demand feeding.
- The only time a newborn needs fluid other than breastmilk is for a medical reason.
Expressing and storing breastmilk
- Sometimes it is necessary to express milk from your breast to give to the baby later.
- If you plan to express on a long-term basis, you need good skills to keep your milk supply.
- You should talk about this with your midwife or lactation consultant before the birth.
- You will find information on how to store breastmilk in your baby’s Personal Health Record Book.
- Thaw frozen breastmilk in cold water or in the fridge overnight.
- Warm in a jug of hot water when ready to use. Microwaves should not be used.
- Once heated, the breastmilk cannot be reheated and used again so only thaw what you need to feed baby.
Avoiding teats, dummies, and complementary feeds
Your new baby is learning to breastfeed and can become confused if offered a teat or dummy.
Offering fluid other than breastmilk will decrease the time he breastfeeds and reduce your milk supply.
Frequent unrestricted sucking at the breast will satisfy your baby.
Eating well when breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding uses energy and nutrition.
- It is important to eat well for both you and your baby's health and well-being.
Returning to work and breastfeeding
- Returning to work after having a baby usually means a change in your family’s routine.
- With some planning, you can be supported to continue to breastfeed your baby after you return to work.
- Every situation is different. What works for you will depend on your workplace and childcare arrangements.
Infant tooth decay
The following may increase the risk of infant tooth decay:
- Honey or sweetener on the dummy
- Infrequent tooth brushing or not cleaning after the first tooth appears
- Prolonged and frequent bottle feeding when teeth are present
- Adding any sweeteners to the bottle
- If your baby has a bottle or dummy which has been in your mouth, bacteria will be transferred which may cause decay or infection in your baby’s mouth.
Where to get more information
Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)
Child Health and Parenting Services (CHaPS)
Tasmanian Multiple Birth Association
Call 1300 808 178 for 24-hour advice and support.
Breastfeeding support clinics
Launceston General Hospital
Contact our lactation consultants within the first 2 weeks after discharge on 03 6777 8934
North West Regional Hospital
Contact our lactation consultant on 0409 973 547
Royal Hobart Hospital
Contact our lactation consultants on 03 6166 0000