January 14, 2021


Want to breastfeed? These five things will make it easier


Alyce Wilson, Burnet Institute; Caroline Homer, Burnet Institute, and Lisa Amir, La Trobe University

More than 90% of Australian women start breastfeeding soon after the birth of their baby, but only 15% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months, despite national and international recommendations.

The World Health Organisation recommends infants begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth and continue to breastfeed exclusively until six months old. After this, nutritious complementary foods can be added to the baby’s diet, with recommendations to continue to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

But for new mothers, establishing and continuing breastfeeding can be challenging. Here are five things mums can do to make it easier.

Read more:
‘Nipple Nazis’ vs overwrought mums: the breastfeeding debate

1. Talk to your partner and family early about your desire to breastfeed

Women who have a partner who is informed, supportive and encouraging are more likely to start breastfeeding and breastfeed for longer. Before the baby is born, talk to your partner and family about your desire to breastfeed, why it might be important to you and what support you might need.

You and your partner can prepare by learning as much as you can about breastfeeding, what to expect in the first few weeks, common challenges and where to go for help. The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) holds regular breastfeeding education classes and can provide ongoing support. Talking to your midwife or health-care provider during pregnancy visits about what to expect in the first hours and days can be helpful.

Having emotional, practical and physical support from partners helps create a supportive breastfeeding environment and enriches the breastfeeding experience for both parents.

Your partner and family members can help with cooking, washing, performing other household chores and looking after other children. This will leave you with the space you need to rest and feel cared for, as you learn about your baby and become confident in the breastfeeding process.

2. Reach out early and often

Breastfeeding can take time to learn and does not always “just happen”. The first few days after birth are important for getting attachment of your baby on the breast right and finding good feeding positions. Most newborn babies want to feed often, especially in the first weeks. This is important as it will help to establish an adequate milk supply and the time between feeds will settle over time.

You may be given conflicting advice and you need to work out what’s right for you. Trust your instincts and if something doesn’t seem right, seek help early and often. While in hospital, ask your midwife to help with attachment and positioning and if you need more assistance, a lactation consultant may help.

When you are home, you can get support from your maternal and child health nurse, the 24/7 national breastfeeding helpline (1800 686 268) or find a local ABA support group. There are many useful resources available on the ABA website and the Australian Parenting Website, Raising Children.

A laid back/reclining position helps with breastfeeding.
from ww.shutterstock.com

Read more:
My baby is crying. Is it colic? How can I help?

3. Eat and drink well

Breastfeeding is thirsty work for you and your baby! A healthy diet is always important and especially so when breastfeeding. Eat plenty of wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, milk, cheese and yoghurt and iron-rich foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, legumes, nuts and green leafy vegetables.

Choose nutrient-rich ready-to-eat snacks such as fruit, yoghurt, hard boiled eggs, nuts, crackers with cheese or avocado, vegetables and cans of fish or beans. Eat according to your appetite and aim for steady weight loss back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Drinking plenty of water is very important, especially during hot weather.

4. Make it practical

Breastfeeding means you also need to think about practical things such as what you might want to wear and what other supports you need around you. Wear breastfeeding friendly clothes, maternity bras, and find a comfortable position for feeding, such as a laid back or reclining position. Imagine you’re leaning back in a deck chair with the baby supported by your body, rather than sitting upright or hunching forward and needing to support the baby on a pillow or your arm.

When at home, practise skin-to-skin contact by placing your baby directly on your bare chest covered with a warm blanket. Skin-to-skin contact stimulates the release of oxytocin which not only helps with “milk let down” but it can also “prime” the following breastfeeding interaction.

When preparing to return to work and breastfeeding, encourage your workplace to provide a private space to feed or express, have a small fridge where milk can be stored and ask for scheduled lactation breaks.

Read more:
Feeding frenzy: public breastfeeding is good for us all

5. Know your rights

Women can breastfeed anytime, anywhere. Australian federal and local laws explicitly state women are legally supported to breastfeed or express milk in public.

You have the right to feed your baby whenever and wherever they need to be fed. You wouldn’t expect someone to eat their lunch in the toilet so why should your baby? We can all help to make our communities breastfeeding friendly.The Conversation

Alyce Wilson, Senior Research Officer at Burnet Institute, Lecturer at Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Medical Doctor at Royal Women’s Hospital, Burnet Institute; Caroline Homer, Co-Program Director: Maternal and Child Health, Burnet Institute, and Lisa Amir, Associate Professor in Breastfeeding Research, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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  • Breastfeeding is hard mentally and physically! Nipple shields really helped my first to latch


  • And most importantly – Fed is best :)


  • Thank you for sharing. When I was pregnant with my 1st I thought that breastfeeding is the easiest part..oh how I was mistaken…it took as a month to learn…


  • Great advices for new mums.


  • These are great tips to know for all BF mums.


  • I’m expecting my second bubba in December.. helpful article.


  • I didn’t really wear special clothing, but liked a shirt or jumper with a belly hugger under it


  • I was very disappointed that I couldn’t breastfeed my little one. We only got a few weeks in and my milk completely dried up between a feed and a pump. Due to allergies all the things I could have had to encourage a milk flow, I was allergic to. I’m hoping when I can have another baby I can feed for longer. I would be so proud of myself to make it to a year!


  • I never Breastfeed my children as I had so much trouble with it all


  • An informative article, thanks for sharing.


  • These are definitely some great tips. I understand that not every woman can breastfeed, but I also feel like some just don’t try hard enough. There is lots of ways of how to educate yourself and/ or prepare yourself for breastfeeding, but to be quite honest you never know until you experience it for yourself. Just don’t beat yourself up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve been breastfeeding for about 10 months now and I plan on continuing until my baby girl requires to do so..


  • These are some great tips, and I think they are all ones I was told by my midwife when in hospital. I would like to add though, don’t beat yourself up if for some reason you cant breastfeed. There are some reasons why it wont work for some people, and there is too much pressure on new mums that this is the only way to feed your baby, giving them alot of anxiety and guilt if they can’t


  • I would get input from a lactation consultant ASAP. If your baby’s in the wrong position it can cause damage to the nipple and less success for breast feeding.


  • I had no idea breast feeding was so hard for some women to do when I was doing it. I am so thankful I was successfully able to breast feed and happily did it til they were around 9 months old…….when they self weaned


  • Great tips, my hospital had a Lactation consultant on site which I believe helped me to establish proper breastfeeding and I would highly recommend all new mums see one


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