Forest Office: 352-625-2727       Dunnellon Office: 352-522-1862 Main Office: 352-671-6741

How To Breastfeed

There are many new things to learn and lots to decide upon when a baby is one the way. One of the important decisions that parents have to make is whether or not they would like for their baby to be breastfed. If breastfeeding is what the parents think is best for their baby and their family, it is then time to figure out how exactly breastfeeding works.

There is a wide range of experiences and emotions to consider when it comes to breastfeeding, and often, no two breastfeeding experiences are alike. Breastfeeding is typically very different for each mother, each individual child, and for each pregnancy. 

There are many different tips and tricks that moms can try to help their babies adjust to this new source of food, and it is important to remember that breastfeeding is a learning process for both mommy and baby, so both patience and practice are key!


The Breastfeeding Process

In The Hospital


Once you deliver your baby, you will most likely be encouraged to start breastfeeding as soon as possible. This is an ideal time to begin because you’ll have support from the lactation consultants, doctors, and nurses on staff. They can teach you proper latch techniques, how to position your baby during feeding, and offer any additional guidance that they think may help. 


How To Hold Your Baby


How you decide to hold your baby ultimately depends on what is comfortable for you and which way works best for your baby. That being said, there are 3 tried and true ways that are often suggested.  

  1. Football Hold (helpful for C-sections moms)- Lay the baby facing up beside you, on whichever side you are breastfeeding, so you can cradle the baby in the arm on that side. Your baby’s head will be in your hand and the lower half of their body will be on your forearm. You can then guide your baby to your breast and help them latch with your free hand. 
  2. Cradle Hold- Lay the baby facing up horizontally across your abdomen. Use one hand to support your baby’s head and the other hand to guide your baby to your breast. After your baby has latched on, you can hold your baby’s bottom with your free hand. 
  3. Side Lying Hold- Lay your baby on their back in the middle of a bed, or whatever comfortable surface you choose, and then lay down next to your baby with your breasts level to their mouth. You may want to use a pillow for your head or side support, but keep the pillow a safe distance away from the baby. 

Next, cradle your baby with the arm closest to their body, (if your baby is to the left of you, use your left arm), by lifting their body slightly off of the bed up close to your nipple, and then use your free arm to guide your baby to your breast. Also, do not rest your arm on your baby’s body or head, and always make sure they are able to breathe properly while feeding. 


The Latch And Process 


  1. Decide which hold you would like to try, position your baby in that hold, and then place your fingers around your nipple. 
  2. With your baby’s body in line with the rest of her body and facing your breasts, tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple or squeeze a little colostrum or breast milk onto your baby’s lips to get her to open her mouth. 
  3. Once your baby’s mouth is open wide, bring her to your nipple and help her latch on.
  4. If your baby has properly latched on, you will see a stable sucking and swallowing pattern. If you think there is an issue with the latch, use a clean finger to break the seal of the sucking by slipping it between the baby’s mouth and your nipple. 



Nursing may hurt some in the beginning while your nipples are getting used to breastfeeding your baby, but if you experience cracked or bleeding nipples that is a sign that there is probably something wrong with how your baby is latching. Although many moms may experience cracked and bleeding nipples, this is NOT a normal side effect of breastfeeding and should be assessed by a lactation consultant right away. 


How Many Times 


Your baby’s age determines the average amount of times per day that they will nurse. According to the CDC, newborns may nurse up to 12 times a day or every 1 to 3 hours. Over the next few months, as your baby adjusts to breastfeeding and her belly starts to grow, feedings will get longer and your baby will start feeding every 2 to 4 hours, or 8 to 12 times per day. 

Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, a breastfeeding routine will most likely have been established, making it easy for you to tell when your baby is hungry and allowing you to feed them every few hours as they require. At this point and per recommendations from your baby’s pediatrician, they may be starting to eat some solid foods, which may also have an impact on frequency. 

Until your baby is age one, breastmilk, or formula, is the primary source of nutrients for your baby. Talk to your baby’s doctor about her feeding habits to make sure she is getting everything she needs. 


How Long


There is no specific amount of time that a baby should nurse for, but it is crucial that your baby fully nurses each breast to get the important hindmilk that comes after the breastmilk. 

Every baby is different and will establish a feeding pattern with her mother. Baby’s may spend anywhere from 10 minutes per breast all the way up to 30 minutes per breast, to get what they need. 

Always ask for help if you think your baby is nursing too long or not long enough. A lactation consultant can help gauge if the nursing process is successful and offer advice if needed. Your baby’s pediatrician can also measure weight gain and suggest helpful options as well. 

Keeping a breastfeeding journal is another great way to remember when and for how long your baby is nursing, so you are able to keep track and share this information if necessary. 


When To See A Doctor


If you are experiencing severe pain resulting from breastfeeding, fever, aches, or have engorged (swollen) breasts, contact your doctor immediately as you may have an infection. 


Premier Pediatrics 


If you have any questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding and your baby, please contact Premier Pediatrics today at (352) 671-6741 to schedule an appointment with an experienced and knowledgeable pediatrician. 

For additional guidance on how to breastfeed, click this link to view a breastfeeding instructional video, shared by UNICEF


Comments are closed.