How to Breastfeed

There are different ways you can hold your baby when breastfeeding. Ask your nurse, lactation consultant or nutritionist about them. Vary your positions but choose the ones that are most comfortable for you.

The most important thing to learn is how to help your baby “latch on” to the breast. Here are the basic steps:

  • Hold your breast in one hand with your fingers underneath and thumb on top. Keep your hand back from the areola, the dark skin around the nipple. Your hand should not get in the way as the baby latches on. Your baby needs to get the nipple far back in the mouth to nurse so milk can flow easily.
  • Put the baby’s lips in front of your nipple. Touch the baby’s lips with the nipple until the baby’s mouth opens wide. Pull the baby quickly onto the breast. Once the baby starts sucking, you will feel a tug on the nipple. It should not hurt after the first few sucks.
  • If it does hurt, start over. Put your finger in the baby’s mouth between the gums and take your nipple out. Make sure the baby’s mouth is wide open and the tongue is down before the baby latches on again. It is okay to start over.

Signs That Breastfeeding is Going Well

  • You feel a tug (but it does not hurt) when the baby sucks
  • Your baby swallows hard after a few strong sucks
  • Your baby is content at the end of the feeding
  • By the time your baby is four days old, you see at least six wet diapers and two to five bowel movements every 24 hours
  • Your baby is gaining weight at each check-up

You may also notice:

  • Your uterus may tighten during or after feedings the first few days after delivery
  • You may feel sleepy or relaxed when your baby nurses
  • You may notice that your breast softens as your baby nurses
  • Your baby’s arms and shoulders will relax during feeding

Visit frequently asked questions about breastfeeding (FAQ & Resources).


Find a local board certified Lactation Consultant:

  • is a community service of the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, providing listings for breastfeeding resources based on ZIP code.
  • International Lactation Consultant Association – a search tool allowing you to search for practicing IBCLCs who work in either private practice or in clinical settings.

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