Learning to breastfeed can take time, practice, and patience.
You will usually start breastfeeding within the first few hours after birth. The first milk (colostrum) is thick and yellowish and is rich in protein and antibodies that will help give your baby a great start to life. The milk gradually becomes thinner and more watery looking during the first week. You will continue to produce milk throughout the feed, as your baby sucks.
Tips to get started
Make sure you’re in a comfortable position. Using an armchair or pillows to support yourself and the baby while you feed can be helpful.
There are different ways you can hold your baby for breastfeeding. When you hold your baby close to you, unwrapped or skin-to-skin against your chest, they may find the nipple and begin feeding without any help.
Partners can make the breastfeeding process easier by being encouraging and taking the pressure off other parts of mum’s life.
Signs of good attachment
Finding an attachment technique that works for you and your baby can make all the difference. It can help to avoid common problems like sore or cracked nipples and make breastfeeding a more pleasant experience. Look out for the following signs:
breastfeeding feels comfortable, not painful;
your baby is sucking deeply and regularly;
your baby takes the whole nipple and a large amount of the areola into its mouth;
your baby’s chin is pressed into your breast and nose is clear or just touching your breast;
your baby’s lips are turned out over your breast;
your nipples stay in good condition and don’t show any signs of damage;
your baby is draining your breast properly, making it feel lighter after a feed.
If you have any questions or any problems, don’t be afraid to seek help from your midwife, lactation consultant, Child and Family Health Nurse or you can call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268 (1800 mum2mum).
The Australian Breastfeeding Association runs Breastfeeding Support Groups across Australia. You can search for your nearest group on their website.
The following video uses Dharawal language words to talk about getting started with breastfeeding: