King Edward Memorial Hospital
Breastfeeding Centre of WA
Breastfeeding advice for new parents
Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is important after birth to encourage bonding and release hormones that assist breastfeeding. Not all babies are able to feed immediately after birth. The first feed is when mother and baby are ready.
The first few days
- Following birth, uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact should be maintained with your baby for one hour or until he/she has breastfed, and then as often as possible after this.
- The early use of teats and dummies, especially before the first breastfeed, can interfere with breastfeeding.
- Common practices such as early weighing, bathing or passing around your baby should be delayed until after the first feed if possible.
- After an initial alert period some babies become very sleepy for the next 24 hours or so. This may be due to the birth experience and/or pain relieving drugs given to the mother during labour. If this happens, colostrum/breast milk will need to be expressed and given to the baby if he/she is not interested in feeding.
- A breastfed baby may feed between 8 to 12 times, or more, every 24 hours.
The best way for a mother and baby to learn to breastfeed is to let the baby follow their natural instincts. This is called ‘baby-led attachment’ and can be done straight after birth or at any time later.
Place your baby in a supported, upright skin-to-skin position on your chest. Calm your baby by gently rocking, stroking and talking.
- Start when your baby is awake and calm and remove his clothes, except for the nappy.
- Take off your bra and top – you could wear something over your shoulders for warmth or privacy.
- Sit comfortably, leaning back a little, with your back well-supported.
Your baby's instinct is to 'bob' around on your chest searching for your nipple.
- Place your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. Talk to him, look into his eyes and gently stroke him.
Your baby may nuzzle your breast and lick for a little while. That is fine.
- Gently support your baby behind his shoulders and under his bottom, but allow him to move freely when he wants. He may ‘bob’ his head on your chest and then move across to one breast.
- When his chin contacts the breast, he may attach by himself. Don’t be in hurry. Let your baby take his time to attach when he is ready. Enjoy your baby!
Your baby will use its cheek to feel the way. This is a learning process for both of you. It is okay to take your time.
Your baby will reach up with an open mouth and attach to the breast.
If your baby's back is straight with your bodies touching and you are both feeling comfortable, this is all that matters.
Rooming in – feeding according to need
If both you and your baby are well, you should remain together 24 hours a day whilst establishing breastfeeding. This allows unrestricted breastfeeding and helps you learn about your baby's feeding and behaviour patterns.
Baby Feeding Cues (signs)
View description of baby feeding cues image.