I would like to try breastfeeding, how do I start?

If you reach this decision then the simple answer is "as soon as possible".  It is a good idea to find a support network beforehand - discover your nearest breastfeeding support group (visit our support section for this) and make a note of helpline numbers.

By reading through the information on this website you will also be preparing.  It is worth preparing for breastfeeding as you are for your labour.  As soon as your baby is born you can offer your new baby your breast.  Skin to skin contact helps the two of you to start bonding and some babies will instinctively want to feed straight away.  You can lay your baby on your chest to self attach or your midwife or breastfeeding specialist can show you other ways to position your baby to ensure a good latch.

Do not feel disheartened if it doesn't happen straight away - breastfeeding may take practice for both of you so enjoy some quiet time with your new arrival and keep trying.  Most babies will want to have their first breastfeed in the first half hour after birth.  If you had pain relief medication during labour or had an assisted delivery your baby may be sleepy and take a little longer or need some encouragement to stay away for the first few feeds.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

A full baby will be content and come off the breast on their own.  You can then offer the other breast and a hungry baby will take it whereas a satisfied baby will not.  Either is fine.  Many babies will also nurse when asleep or when the breast seems to be empty.  This is perfectly normal - it provides baby with comfort and maintains a good milk supply.

It can help to avoid clock watching when you have a new baby!  Be led by your instinct and remember that the first few days are a learning curve for both of you but you will soon establish a routine.  If baby seems to be upset regularly after a feed he may have trapped wind or not be latching on adequately.  Your healthcare professional can help you with this.

Wet nappies are also a good indicator that baby is feeding well.  5-6 disposable nappies or 6-8 cloth nappies per day are a sign that your baby is having enough milk. In the first 6 weeks your baby should also have 2 dirty nappies a day. After six weeks babys can go a few days without dirty nappies, this does not mean they aren't get enough milk.

How often should I breastfeed my new baby?

Be led by your baby and fee on cue.  You will learn your baby's signals - this may be actions such as their head turning towards your breast (rooting), rubbing their nose with a hand, smacking or licking their lips - or there may be others.  Crying is a very late sign of hunger and as you get to know your baby you'll be able to intervene well before this happens.  You should keeping your baby's close, day and night as it will allow you to pick-up on these cues. By breastfeeding on cue your breasts will produce just the right amount of milk for your baby at the right times of the day and night. 

It feels like my baby is feeding all the time, is there something wrong?

Don't worry, your baby is probably going through a growth spurt.  This typically occurs at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months.  It will seem like your baby is constantly wanting to feed - this is a phase and should pass.  Just keep reminding yourself how well you are doing and how this extra effort is needed for you baby's growth and development.  Other reasons for increased feeding can be that your baby is fighting an illness.  Increased feeding provides your baby with valuable protection as they will receive anti-bodies that your body has made.

If you have any concerns about your baby's feeding patterns do contact your health professional.

What can I do if my breasts become too full?

This means you are producing a strong supply of milk for your baby, which is a good thing. To help ease engorged breasts try the following:

  • Check that your baby is properly attached during a feed and aim to feed on cue, before baby cries
  • Wear a properly fitting and supportive but comfortable nursing bra
  • Hand express or use a pump to extract a small amount of milk in between feeds for comfort
  • Feed your baby often - 8-12 times in 24 hours for a newborn. You may need to wake a sleepy baby during the day.
  • Expressing a little just before feeding will soften the areola to make it easier for baby to latch on
  • If the flow is too strong at the beginning of a feed, let some flow into a cloth until it slows enough for the baby to feed comfortably. There will still be enough milk.

What is tongue tie?

Tongue tie can be visible from birth.  It is a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and the floor of their mouth which makes it hard for baby to attach to the mother's breast which can lead to sore nipples and result in baby not gaining weight.  Tongue tie is easily treated by a simple and painless operation known as a frenulotomy or tongue tie division.  To find out more information click here.

Help! My baby bites

A baby can bite for a number of reasons and once baby has bitten you could be anxious that it will happen again - and for good reason!  It is worth knowing that if a baby is actively feeding - sucking and swallowing correctly - he won't be able to bite.  Biting usually occurs at latch on, a pause during a feed or at the end of a feed. Common reasons for biting include teething, stress or simply as a way to get a reaction from mum!

To be able to bite your baby needs to pull back from the breast so watch your baby's movements and as soon as the position changes or the tension in his jaw alters this could be a cue for a bite.  If you spot any of these cues try slipping a finger into the corner of his mouth between the teeth in order to protect the nipple, then use this as a way of removing him from the breast.  If your baby does bite it is worth trying to tell your baby that biting is painful - even if he is tiny he will be able to understand via your tone that you are not comfortable being bitten. 

My breast is painful - what does this mean?

If this is sudden, it's probably a blocked milk duct. Act promptly to remedy it, as left unchecked it can lead to mastitis.

  • Rest - go to bed with your baby, drink plenty, breastfeed often and take it easy
  • Check that baby is latched on correctly and vary feeding positions to stimulate different areas of breast - having baby's chin pointing to the lump can be helpful
  • Apply heat - a shower, hot water bottle or hot wet cloth are good - before nursing your baby
  • Massage gently between the lump and the nipple and if there are any white dots in your nipple, try to massage or rub them out gently
  • Take off your bra and check that no garments or baby carrier could be too tight

If your breast is very sore and inflamed and you have flu-like symptoms this could be mastitis, which is caused by a blocked duct that hasn't cleared.  Your healthcare professional will be able to give you an official diagnosis. Treat it as a blocked duct (see above). You may also need antibiotics from your GP.

Mastitis can be very painful but it is vital that you carry on feeding, and your milk is not harmful even if it looks a bit different than usual. Consult your doctor or breastfeeding specialist if you have any concerns.

Help! My nipples are so sore

Having tender or sore nipples is very common in the early days, but the pain should be bearable and short-lived. Listed below are some of the causes of sore nipples and some solutions you can try:

  • Cracked, damaged or very sore nipples are usually a sign that baby's attachment could be better. Check with your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding professional
  • Breast pads can occasionally cause sore nipples so ensure you change them regularly and wear a good fitting nursing bra
  • Thrush can cause sore nipples but is easily treatable so speak to your healthcare professional
  • A biting baby can cause sore nipples and is usually a sign that the attachment is too shallow or (later) that the baby is teething
  • If it hurts, don't continue - gently separate baby and breast by putting your clean little finger into baby's mouth and gently pulling down the lower lip, this will break the seal and won't hurt


Cheshire East Residents only:

Cherubs Helpline     (9am - 5pm Mon - Fri):  03001234579

Leighton Hospital Crewe: 01270 612287

Macclesfield District General Hospital: 01625 661153



 Icon _facebook twitter logo