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How to breastfeed

There is no single way to breastfeed and different mums may find different techniques easier to achieve successful breastfeeding. One of the first things to understand is attachment which is how the baby takes the breast into his mouth to enable them to feed.

The following points are a good way to recognise effective attachment: 

  • Chin touching breast.
  • Mouth wide open.
  • Lower lip curled back.
  • Cheeks full and rounded.
  • More areola visible above top lip.
  • Rhythmic suck/swallow with pauses.
  • Feeding is pain-free.

Another key area is positioning. Whilst there are a number of ways you can hold your baby, described in more detail on the pages within this section, there are some key pointers to follow to make sure your baby can feed well: 

  • Your baby should be held close to you.
  • They should be facing the breast, with head, shoulders and body in a straight line without having to stretch or twist.
  • Their nose or top lip should be opposite the nipple.
  • Remember always to move your baby towards the breast rather than your breast towards the baby.
  • You should be comfortable enough to have a drink or read a magazine. 
Cross Cradle Hold

This position is useful when you are just learning:

  • Use your fingers under the baby’s head so his head and the weight of his head are supported, but make sure his head is free to tilt back through the gap between your finger and thumb.
  • The palm of your hand supports your baby’s shoulders and you can press on his shoulders to bring him into the breast when ready.
  • Your forearm can tuck the rest of the baby’s body close to you. Most mums use their other hand to support their breast while the baby attaches.
  • When you are sure that the baby is attached and suckling well, you can bring that hand and arm around the baby.
Cradle Hold

The position most mums use instinctively: 

  • Your hand needs to be supporting your baby’s shoulders and he is free to tilt his head back out over your wrist. Baby’s head needs to be free to tilt back.
© Stockport NHS Foundation Trust 2023. Stepping Hill Hospital, Poplar Grove, Stockport, SK2 7JE. 0161 483 1010