Positioning and Attachment

How do I go about breastfeeding?

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? Make sure you are comfortable before you start a feed and have everything you might need to hand, e.g. a drink
  • Remember when you feed to relax your shoulders and arms.
  • Are your baby’s head and body in a straight line?
  • Baby's nose, knee and navel facing towards you.
  • Are you holding your baby close to you, facing your breast?
  • Support their neck, shoulders and back. Do not hold their head as their head needs to be free to tilt back.
  • Is your baby’s nose opposite your nipple?
  • Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast from beneath the nipple.

How does my baby attach to my breast?

  • Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple.
  • Wait until your baby opens their mouth really wide, like a yawn, with the tongue down.
  • Bring your baby swiftly 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.

How will I know that my baby is getting enough milk?

  • Breastfeeding should be comfortable. If baby is feeding well they will remain on the breast throughout the feed.
  • Your baby will appear content and satisfied after feeds.
  • They should be healthy and gaining weight.

Pees and Poos

You should have a minimum of two wet nappies their first and second days.

Day three to four - three nappies

Day five to six - six nappies

Day one to two Black tarry poo (known as meconium)

Day three to four Green/Brown (known as changing stool) two plus nappies

Day five to six Yellow soft two nappies minimum

How will I know when my baby needs feeding?

After the very first feed after birth these are signs that you baby gives that he/she wants a feed.

These signs come long before baby finally cries for a feed. Crying for a feed is baby’s last attempt to get you to notice him so it is much better if you can feed him/her as soon as you notice these earlier signals.

This is called “responsive” feeding as you are feeding your baby in response to him/her letting you know that he/ she is ready to feed.

The signs are:

  • Restlessness/ stirring
  • Fingers/hands to mouth
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Rooting (searching for the breast)
  • Sucking motions and lip movements.

Babies might want to feed very one to two hour’s to start with.

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 our “Common Problems” page for more information and advice.

Positioning and attaching your baby for breastfeeding

Skin to skin contact will help with breastfeeding

Positioning:

No matter what shape or size breasts you may have, there will be a position for you to breastfeed. What suits one mum may not suit another.

The main things to look out for when positioning are:

  • Ensure that you are comfortable and that you can remain comfortable during the feed
  • Check baby is held close to you – wrapped around you – no big gaps between you and baby
  • Baby’s head and body are aligned with each other – no twisting at the neck
  • Baby’s head is free to tilt back so he/she can swallow easily (avoid putting your hand on the baby’s head, it needs to be able to tip back a little)
  • Baby’s nose is lined up to your nipple. This will enable baby to take a nice big mouthful of breast from underneath your nipple. Remember, it is breastfeeding, not nipple feeding!

Attachment:

Attaching your baby correctly is really important. Having a good attachment will mean that baby gets plenty of milk. Attaching baby correctly will also avoid your nipples becoming sore and cracked and will ensure that your milk ducts are being drained effectively, which will avoid blocked milk ducts and you becoming engorged.

How do I attach my baby for breastfeeding?

  • Make sure that you and your baby are comfortable and that baby is lined up nose to nipple. His/her neck is free to tilt back in order to reach up for your nipple
  • Wait until baby opens his/her mouth wide, then bring baby towards you – not you towards baby. You want your baby to take a good mouthful of breast as well as the nipple, in order for your baby to feed effectively
  • Baby’s bottom lip and chin touch your breast first, so he/she is able to scoop underneath of the breast below the areola (the brown area), then the rest of the breast will follow into your baby’s mouth. The nipple will extend to the back of the baby’s mouth, sitting on the soft part of the roof of his/her mouth

What are some signs of a good attachment?

  • Baby’s mouth is open very wide as he/she starts to attach
  • More of the brown area is seen above baby’s top lip
  • Baby’s nose is free and the chin is pressed into the breast – if the nose is pressed into the breast, the baby is probably too high and may not have been lined up nose to nipple correctly.
  • Baby’s cheeks should not be sucking in during a feed
  • Baby’s bottom lip is curled out (this is not always visible however)
  • You will feel your baby taking short, fast sucks initially, followed by longer, slower sucks – you may hear your baby swallowing
  • After the initial attachment, breastfeeding should feel comfortable
  • If breastfeeding is uncomfortable, or you need to re position and re attach your baby, do not pull the baby off your breast, as this is likely to cause trauma. Use your little finger to release the suction by putting it gently in the corner of your baby’s mouth.

Myth:

A baby should be on the breast 20 minutes on each side.

Exploding the Myth:

Not true!

However, a distinction needs to be made between "being on the breast" and "breastfeeding". If a baby is actually drinking for most of 15-20 minutes on the first side, he may not want to take the second side at all. If he drinks only a minute on the first side, and then nibbles or sleeps, and does the same on the other, no amount of time will be enough. The baby will breastfeed better and longer if he is latched on properly.

Breastfeeding information for parents