Mother, Daughter and Childs Daughter

Women and Newborn Health Service

Services A – Z

King Edward Memorial Hospital
Breastfeeding Centre of WA

Signs your milk is flowing

  • A change in your baby’s sucking rate from rapid sucks to suckling and swallowing rhythmically, at about one suckle per second.
  • Some mothers feel a tingling or pins and needles sensation in the breast.
  • Sometimes there is a sudden feeling of fullness in the breast.
  • While feeding on one side your other breast may start to leak milk.
  • You may become thirsty.

Your milk flow can be affected by emotions like anxiety, embarrassment, tension or extreme tiredness. Being relaxed when breastfeeding helps your milk flow.

How long to feed your baby

The length of time a baby feeds will vary. A newborn baby is often sleepy and may need waking during a feed and encouragement to drain the breast thoroughly. Most babies take both breasts at each feed. Seek assistance if you don’t think your baby is having adequate feeds or is unsettled between feeds.

If you feel pain after you start to feed, your baby is not attached correctly and this may cause sore or cracked nipples. If pain is experienced put a clean finger into the side of your baby’s mouth between the gums to break the suction. Gently take baby off the breast and reposition and reattach him/her. After the feed your breast should feel lighter with no lumps.

Breast compression

Breast compressions can help you to feed effectively if your baby is falling asleep whilst feeding, slow to gain weight, feeding frequently or taking a long time to feed. By compressing your breast you will encourage your milk to flow which will provide your baby with more milk.

Compress your breast with your hand around the breast close to your chest wall without causing pain. When your baby is no longer drinking release the pressure.

When your baby starts to suckle again he/she may be drinking but if he/she doesn’t resume suckling well, compress your breast again. Keep doing this until your breast feels soft and drained and baby is no longer drinking whilst compressing. Then offer your baby the other breast and if he/she becomes tired start your compressions again.

How your milk supply increases

As your baby grows their appetite increases and he/she will demand more feeds. Your breast milk will increase to match your baby’s needs if you breastfeed more frequently. Growth spurts occur at anytime but are often around six weeks, three months and six months.

Remember your breasts are never empty. As your baby feeds, your body makes more breast milk.

You can build up your milk supply by:

  • Feeding more often
  • Offering both breasts twice
  • Putting baby back to the breast 20 to 30 minutes after a feed
  • Expressing breast milk after feeds
  • Avoiding giving formula feeds, water or juice
  • Resting as much as possible – a few quiet days at home are helpful
  • Eating well and drinking when thirsty
  • Gently stroking or compressing your breasts during feeds

Signs baby is getting enough

Fully breastfed babies receiving colostrum (present from birth) have one to two wet nappies per 24 hours for the first few days. Once your baby is receiving mature breast milk then expect:

  • Five or more wet nappies per 24 hours
  • Clear or pale urine
  • Soft yellow bowel action – at least two to three per day for the first four to six weeks
  • An alert healthy baby with good skin tone
  • An average weight gain of 150gm or more per week in the first three months

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