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Quick Tips: Successful Breast-Feeding - Topic Overview

Some aspects of breast-feeding may come naturally. But learning some breast-feeding skills and techniques can help you be more successful. Before your baby is born, take classes, read books, and watch videos that demonstrate breast-feeding techniques.

If you have concerns about your ability to breast-feed, talk to a lactation consultant while you are pregnant. After your baby is born, it is helpful to have one-on-one instruction with a lactation specialist or other knowledgeable health professional.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.

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Get set up

Breast-feeding may go more smoothly in the first days and weeks if you and your baby are relaxed and comfortable.

  • Make sure the room is quiet and warm and that you are able to relax. Keep the room darkened. Bright light makes it difficult for newborns to open their eyes.
  • Keep something to drink nearby. Most women get thirsty as they breast-feed. Drink enough to satisfy your thirst.
  • Use one or more pillows to support your arms and the baby, support your back with a pillow, and use a stool to raise your feet. This will help you and your baby be more comfortable during feeding.
  • Do not bend over your baby when breast-feeding. Bring the baby to you—not you to the baby. Bending toward the baby can lead to back and neck problems.
  • Find a position that is comfortable for both you and your baby. For all positions, make sure the baby's head and chest are lined up straight and not turned to one side or tilted up or down while breast-feeding.

Wake up baby

Having an alert baby will make it easier to get your baby to latch on. To wake your baby you can:

  • Cool your baby off by taking off his or her clothes. Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as you place him or her for feeding. Keep a light-weight blanket nearby.
  • Tickle your baby lightly wherever you get a reaction (on the feet, neck, top of the head, or stomach).
  • Change your baby's diaper.
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