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Breastfeeding Basics

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Positioning, Latch-on and Feeding

How do I hold my baby for breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding goes best when your baby is tucked in close to you and the breast. Turn baby on the side so you are tummy-to-tummy. Keep baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line. Bring baby up to the breast, not the breast down to the baby (try a pillow on your lap). Wrap baby’s arms around your ribs and the breast so they’re not in the way.

You can breastfeed baby by sitting up with baby across your lap (cradle or cross-cradle hold) or along your side (clutch hold). You can breastfeed by lying down on a firm mattress or the floor (side-lying hold). The link below has more detailed information on positioning. It is best to work with someone hands-on to learn good positioning and latch-on (Breastfeeding Resources page) and also Positioning your baby at the breast.

How do I latch-on my baby?

Once baby is positioned close to your body and breast, the next step is to get most of the areola (the darker area at the base of the nipple) in baby’s mouth. Tickle baby’s lower lip with the nipple until baby’s mouth opens wide, like a yawn. Quickly draw baby in close to you so that most of the areola is in the mouth and baby’s nose and chin are touching the breast. You should feel a tug on the breast as baby sucks, but it should not hurt. If it hurts, take baby off the breast by sliding a finger in baby’s mouth to break the suction and try again.
(Position of your baby and latch-on) 
(Pictures of latch-on)

What if I have flat or inverted nipples?

You can still breastfeed! Nipples are designed to help baby feel that there is something in the mouth. The baby doesn’t need a nipple that sticks out — they’ll still get milk if the nipple is flat or inverted. If you do have a flat or inverted nipple, be extra careful about not using bottles or pacifiers at the beginning. The firm feeling of the rubber nipple may keep your baby from recognizing the softer feeling of your breast. 


Last Updated 6/16/2011