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Breastfeeding FAQ's

Australian Breastfeeding Association

Is breastfeeding best for my baby?

Breast milk is the best food for babies because:

  • it is a complete food containing everything needed for the first half-year of life
  • it satisfies both hunger and thirst; extra water is not needed
  • it increases a baby's resistance to infection and disease
  • it lessens the risk of allergy and food intolerance

Breastfeeding is good for mothers too...

  • it's convenient, cheap and always there when you need it
  • it's always fresh, clean and safe
  • it quickly soothes a fussy, unhappy baby
  • it helps your uterus return to normal sooner after childbirth
  • it gives you a chance to sit down during the day and rest as you breastfeed
  • it makes you feel good because you know you are giving your baby the best possible start

Breastfeeding helps create a close and loving bond between you and your baby and can be a deeply satisfying experience for you both.

How soon after birth can I start to breastfeed?

Most babies have a strong need to suck when they are first born, so if you are both well you can start straight away. Many mothers offer the breast while they are still on the delivery table. The first milk in your breasts at this time is called colostrum.

How do I put my baby to the breast?

Find a comfortable position either seated or lying. Hold your baby close to you, chest to chest and chin to breast with your nipple opposite baby's mouth. Gently touch baby's lips with your nipple to encourage your baby's mouth to open wide. Make sure that your nipple and as much as possible of your areola (the darker area around your nipple) is in baby's mouth. When baby is positioned correctly for breastfeeding, it should not hurt you.

How often should I breastfeed at first?

Your breasts make milk in response to your baby's sucking - the more milk the baby takes, the more milk you make.

You will establish a good supply of milk if you:

  • Feed frequently whenever your baby cries or seems hungry
  • Let baby finish the first breast before offering the second breast;
  • Feed your baby at night (this also helps prevent your breasts becoming too full and uncomfortable);
  • Make sure your baby has at least 6-8 feeds in 24 hours (many young babies have more than this - often 10-12 feeds);
  • Avoid giving complementary bottles which will reduce your baby's needs to suck at the breast and so reduce your supply.

How can I help my baby to get the milk?

Your milk will flow more easily if you are relaxed and comfortable at feed times. This is not always easy in those early days when everything is new and strange and you and your baby are still getting to know each other.

The following hints may help:

  • Cuddle your baby close to you before offering the breast;
  • If your baby is too sleepy to feed and you are taking any medications, ask your doctor if they could be affecting your baby;
  • Talk to your doctor if pain from stitches is making you tense;
  • Draw the curtains if you feel you would like privacy in hospital;
  • Breathing slowly and deeply may help you relax;
  • Gently massaging your breasts and rolling your nipples between your thumb and forefinger before putting baby to the breast may start your milk flowing.

How do I know my baby is getting enough?

If your baby is feeding frequently, has plenty of pale, wet nappies (at least 6-8 in 24 hours), on breast milk alone, is gaining weight and seems reasonably alert, active and happy, then relax... Babies will enjoy being nursed and cuddled - lots of loving attention will not 'spoil' them.

How can I increase my milk supply?

If you feel your supply is low, feed your baby more often. Take things easy for a few days ... just relax and let your baby breastfeed often. The more milk your baby takes from your breasts, the more milk you will make.

Do I have to eat or drink particular food?

There are no magic foods that will increase the milk supply - a sensible balanced diet is the key. It is a good idea to avoid those foods which upset you or to which other family members are allergic.

What about night feeds?

New babies wake at night from hunger and need to be fed. This also helps your milk supply. Some babies sleep through the night quite early - others take much longer. Breastfeeding is the quickest and easiest way to soothe and settle your baby.

Reprinted with the permission of Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA).

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a large community-based self-help group, recognised as a leading authority on breastfeeding management. The Association provides innovative counselling and support services to the community and health sector throughout Australia.

Further information on breastfeeding by the ABA includes: