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Breastfeeding gives your baby the best possible start in life. It is more than providing food. Holding your baby close during breastfeeding builds a close, loving bond between you by the feel, smell and visual image imprinting on each of you.

Like anything new, breastfeeding may take a little time to get established and you may experience some difficulties in the early stages – but the advantages to both you and your baby are worth it.

Advantages of breastfeeding for your baby:
Breastmilk is the perfect natural mix of nutrients that your baby needs, in a form especially designed for your baby’s maturing digestive system and growing body. It is all your baby needs for the first 6 months of life
  • It reduces the risk of your baby developing infections and diseases like urinary tract infections, diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses (e.g. asthma), some childhood cancers and obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life
  • It also reduces the risk of allergies and food intolerances such as coeliac disease.
  • Promotes jaw development.
Advantages of breastfeeding for you:
  • Helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnant state faster
  • Can help you lose weight after the birth
  • Lessens the chance of ovarian and pre-menopausal breast cancer
  • Lessens the chance of mothers with gestational diabetes developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Is always available, fresh, clean and safe
  • Saves time as there is no need to prepare formula or sterilise bottles
  • Is FREE.
As soon as possible after birth as most babies are alert and have a strong desire to suck. Your body has already produced colostrum that is perfect for your newborn.
During pregnancy, your body begins to produce colostrum: a thick, rich, yellowish fluid. As you breastfeed more, the colostrum decreases and the breastmilk increases. The more you feed, the more breastmilk you will produce.
  • Relax and make yourself comfortable
  • Hold your baby close, with his/her chest against yours
  • When attaching your baby, always bring baby to breast – NOT breast to baby
  • Baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple
  • Gently shape your breast, pointing the nipple toward baby’s nose using a ‘C’ hold with your thumb and index finger
  • Encourage your baby to open his/her mouth wide by teasing their mouth with your nipple and squeezing a little milk out. When your baby opens wide, bring him/her quickly to your breast. Their chin should be tucked well into the breast and their mouth should be open wide, with the bottom lip curled back.
  • Make sure your nipple and a large amount of the areola are inside your baby’s mouth.
  • Tuck your baby’s body in closer to you to widen the gap between his/her nose and your breast.
  • After an initial short burst of sucking, the rhythm will be slow and even. Pauses are a normal part of the feed and will increase as the feed continues.
  • Attachment gets easier with time!
  • If baby’s cheeks are sucked in or you can hear a ‘clicking’, she is not attached properly.
  • If it hurts when your baby sucks or you suspect poor attachment, put your finger in her mouth to break the suction and try reattaching. Pulling her off before suction is broken will hurt!
  • Your baby should look comfortable and relaxed, not tense and frowning.
  • Breastfeeding should not be painful. Some women experience nipple sensitivity and tenderness in the first few days but this usually improves quickly.
  • After feeding, your nipples will appear slightly longer but shouldn’t look squashed, flattened, white or ridged.
It is common for babies to breastfeed 8-12 times in 24 hours. Some feed every 3 hours, day and night. Others will cluster-feed every hour or less for 4-6 feeds and then sleep for 4-6 hours. Some sleepy babies may need to be woken for feeds. Babies feed more during growth spurts. As they get older and are able to suck more efficiently, they often have shorter feeds and may sleep longer between feeds. Let your baby finish the first breast before offering the second breast. At the next feed, reverse the order. Let your baby feed as long as s/he wants but, as a guide, try to keep feeds no longer than 1 hour.
Your baby is getting enough milk if she has 6-8 wet cloth nappies or 4-5 heavy, disposable nappies a day and regular, soft bowel movements. (Older babies may poo less frequently.) Your baby should be gaining weight and growing in length and head circumference in line with the general growth pattern or curve. Remember, breast size has no relation to milk production!
Regurgitation is common and may occur in about 40% of babies under 3 months. Breastfeeding is not the cause and will not worsen regurgitation. Most babies with regurgitation and reflux are healthy and grow well, with regurgitation settling by 6-10 months.
  • Hand Expressing: Place thumb and finger on opposites sides of your breast just behind the areola, then rhythmically squeeze your breast with a rolling movement between thumb and fingers. (Try about twice per second – but gentle, especially if your breast is very full.) Drops of milk will form on the nipple and milk may spray when the flow starts. When the flow stops, move your thumb and fingers around the areola so that all milk ducts are stimulated and drained. Change hands or breasts when you get tired.
  • Using a Pump: Follow the directions that accompany the pump. This is often faster than hand expressing but you won’t necessarily get more milk. Massage the breast towards the nipple while you use the pump, as this helps get the breastmilk out. Use a warm cloth to assist milk flow.
Pour the collected milk into a sterilised container labelled with the date and time and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Breastmilk can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-5 days (at the back of the fridge, not in the door) or frozen in the freezer for up to 3 months. To rewarm breastmilk, simply stand the bottle in a container of hot water for a few minutes. Never microwave breastmilk. Check the temperature of the milk by dropping some onto the inside of your wrist. Discard any rewarmed milk that has not been used.
Breastmilk gives your baby all the nutrients needed for around the first six months of life. Solids are then needed in addition to breastmilk. When you decide to stop breastfeeding, wean your baby gradually over a few weeks or months and be led by your baby – start by dropping the feed she is least interested in. If your baby is 6 months or younger, replace missed feeds with formula or expressed breastmilk. If your baby is older, the foods or drinks you could replace feeds with depend on your baby’s age. If your breasts become engorged, try not to express milk as you do not want your supply to increase. Express just a little for comfort and to reduce the risk of mastitis.
It is perfectly possible to continue breastfeeding after you return to work. Here are some options:
  • Express breastmilk while you are away and replace missed feeds with expressed milk from a bottle.
  • Replace breastfeeds with formula while you are away from your baby and then continue to breastfeed in the hours and days when you are not working.
  • Use night feeds to meet your baby’s need for comfort and closeness.
  • Continue breastfeeding and replace missed feeds with age-appropriate solids for babies over 6 months.

see Caring for Mom

Bottle Feeding

In some cases breastfeeding is not possible. That’s okay – today’s baby formulas are extremely advanced and you will still bond with your baby during feeding. Cows’ milk-based formula is suitable for most babies and is recommended over those made from soy or goats’ milk. These and other specialised formulas should only be used under the advice of a health professional. Regular milk is unsuitable and should not be used for the first 12 months.

  • Clean your work surface and wash your hands.
  • Bring enough water to the boil, allow it to cool then pour it into the bottle.
  • Using the instructions on the can, add the exact amount of formula for your baby’s age and weight. Level the scoop with a knife.
  • If too warm, quickly cool the milk to feeding temperature by placing the bottle in a container of cold water. A tip is to feed formula at room temperature as this saves the need to serve your baby warm formula.
  • Check the temperature and feed your baby.
  • Discard any formula not consumed within 2 hours.
  • Only keep made-up formula in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Only put formula and water in the bottle. Do not add cereal, sugar, juice or anything else.
  • Do not use a bottle to give soft drinks, tea or juice. These are not good for a baby and will increase the risk of tooth decay.
  • Hold your baby close when feeding. Do not leave your baby alone to drink the bottle.
Stand the bottle of formula in a container of hot water for a few minutes (not more than ten), then check the temperature of the milk by letting a drop onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm or even a little cool. Never microwave formula. Discard any unused, rewarmed feed that has not been used within two hours.
Tip: If you are going out for the day, measure individual portions of powdered formula into a formula dispenser and use hot water to prepare the feed at the destination.
Thoroughly clean bottles and teats manually or in a dishwasher. Bottles and teats can be sterilised by boiling for 5 minutes, by steaming, or by using a chemical sterilising solution. In the latter cases, follow the instructions on the pack carefully.
How much formula should I give my baby?
The following can be used as a general guide:
  • 5 days – 3 months: 150ml/kg bodyweight/day
  • 3-6 months: 120ml/kg bodyweight/day
  • 6-12 months: 100ml/kg bodyweight/day
Seat yourself comfortably and hold your baby in your arms. Hold the bottle at an angle, with the neck and teat filled with formula. If your baby does not firmly grip the teat, gently press under their chin with your middle finger and slightly withdraw the teat to encourage sucking. This will help prevent your baby from swallowing air which can cause wind pain. To relieve wind, hold your baby upright over your shoulder or upright on your lap with your hand supporting under the chin, then gently pat or rub the middle of their back until they burp.