How to breastfeed

Breast milk is the best start in life for babies. When a new mum starts to breastfeed, it will be new for her and her baby. They’ll find it’s something they’ll learn together, settling into the routine that works best for both of them. In this video, new mum Sheryl shows how she feeds her son William.

There is always support available to help mums who are breastfeeding. From healthcare professionals to breastfeeding support groups, friends and, of course, the SMA Careline® team who are always happy to offer support.

Step-by-step guide

1 Clean hands and comfort

  • It's always best to have clean hands before starting to breastfeed
  • When sitting down to breastfed, mum should make sure her back is straight and her lap flat
  • A couple of cushions behind the back can help prevent backache and a cushion on the knees will help bring the baby closer to mum’s breast
  • Keep a glass of water close by – breastfeeding can make mum thirsty 

2 Getting the right position

  • Baby should be laid on the cushion on mum’s lap with their head supported and their head, shoulders and body in a straight line
  • Mum should make sure baby’s nose is opposite her nipple and allow their head to tilt back, still supporting it with one hand while she uses the other to hold baby on its side

Breastfeeding positions

3 Lift up

  • When baby's nose is in line with mum’s nipple, their mouth should be wide open, enough to cover the nipple and the lower part of the dark areola around it
  • If they don't do this straight away, mum should gently move their head and brush their top lip across her nipple

4 Latch on

  • Although new mums might think that latching on might sound a bit scary, they can be reassured that it really isn't
  • When the baby is successfully latched on, their chin should be touching mum’s breast and they should have a big mouthful of breast
  • If mum supports her breast, this may help the baby; it’s also important to ensure that they are breathing easily

5 Feeding

  • When a mum’s milk begins to flow (known as the let-down reflex), she'll hear her baby swallowing and see their jaw moving
  • As the flow increases, mum may feel some tingly sensations in her breast – this is all quite normal

6 Full yet?

  • It is important to let the baby feed for as long as they want so they have enough to satisfy both their hunger and their thirst
  • The more a baby drinks, the more milk a mum’s breasts produce
  • If mum’s breast feels empty but baby still wants more milk, she can offer the other breast

7 All done

  • A baby will let mum know when they have finished – either by letting go of the breast or falling asleep
  • Now it's time to wind or burp them – mum should keep a muslin cloth over her shoulder as a little milk can often come up