Steps For Successful Breastfeeding

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The first steps to successful breastfeeding start before your baby is ever born.  Make sure you let your doctor/midwife know you plan to breastfeed and be sure to put your wishes down on your birth plan.  It’s also a good idea to read at least one breastfeeding book and/or attend a breastfeeding class during pregnancy.  Attending a breastfeeding group such as La Leche League or at those at the hospital during pregnancy can also ensure breastfeeding gets off to a good start.  You’ll be connected to other breastfeeding (or planning to breastfeed) moms, and you’ll be in touch with people that can help provide support should an issue come up.  Another great idea to promote breastfeeding is to stay away from the samples of formula and formula “gift baskets” available at the doctor’s office and hospital.  

Once baby is born it’s recommended that you initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.  Ask for help latching baby on for the first time (or any time breastfeeding is painful or not going well).  Most newborns nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours, and possibly more often during growth spurts.  Your baby may want to nurse more or less often.  Rather than watching the clock, look for baby’s feeding cues and breastfeed on demand.  The best way watch for feeding cues is to keep baby with mother at all times.  See if your birth place allows 24/7 “rooming-in.”  If mother and baby are separated, pump so you maintain your supply. 

Do not give pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants, especially in the early weeks of breastfeeding.  (Baby can be fed with a medicine dropper rather than bottle if needed.)  And request that baby not be given food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.  

In Colorado?  Sign up for a Bradley Method Class or Breastfeeding Class!

To help avoid breast infections, do not use plastic bra linings and nursing pads that keep moisture in and air out.  If you use breast pads, be sure to change them often.  If you develop an infection (or think you have), seek help right away.  In most cases, it’s safe to continue breastfeeding.  It’s also a good idea to avoid bras that are too tight and put pressure on your nipples and those with underwires, as these can lead to plugged ducts.  

Soap and alcohol can dry your nipples. Bathing with clear water is all that is needed to keep your breasts and nipples clean.  Be sure to take care when applying cologne, deodorant, hair spray, or powder near your nipples.  

Position and Latch

Good positioning and latch are vital to successful breastfeeding.  There are lots of ways of nursing and what may be right for one mom, may not be right for another.  The easiest position is the “laid back” position.  It’s all about getting comfortable with your baby and encouraging your own and your baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts. 

  • Find a bed or couch where you can lean back and be well supported - not flat, but comfortably leaning back so that when you put your baby on your chest, gravity will keep him in position with his body molded to yours.
  • Align the baby’s body with the breast so that the baby’s nose is at your nipple.  Support the baby’s shoulders and neck, so his head can tilt back slightly.  (This is the “instinctive feeding position.) 
  • Make sure the baby’s chin, torso, hips, legs, and feet are pulled in close with the baby’s whole body touching yours.  There should be no gaps between you. 
  • Wait until the stimulation of the baby’s chin and torso against the breast triggers a wide open mouth (like a yawn).  
  • As the baby moves towards the breast, apply gentle pressure on the baby’s back and shoulders.  To help him get onto the breast deeply, so the nipple extends back to the comfort zone.  Avoid pushing on baby’s head.  
  • If baby is not latched on well or if it hurts, remove him from the breast by inserting your finger into the side of his mouth and try again.


Remember breastfeeding should not hurt.  If you’re having pain or any other concerns be sure to seek help right away by contacting La Leche League or a certified lactation consultant.


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