You’ve done the classes and read the books, but when it comes to breastfeeding for real it can feel a bit daunting. Breastfeeding your baby as soon as you can after delivery is a good idea, as his sucking reflex is at its strongest then.

Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis: The more you feed, the more you’ll produce. Feed your baby on demand to ensure you produce as much as he needs.
1. Make sure you’re relaxed and comfy. Use pillows to support your back and arms.
2. Hold your baby close, with his head and body in a horizontal line and your nipple pointing towards his nose. Then touch his top lip with your nipple. He’ll instinctively open his mouth and turn towards your nipple.
3. When your baby’s mouth is wide open, move him towards your breast (don’t do it the other way round unless you want stretched nipples!), aiming your nipple towards the roof of your baby’s mouth.
His bottom lip and chin should touch your breast first. With his mouth open, he should take in all of your nipple and part of the areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple). His bottom lip should be curled back towards his chin.
Once he’s latched on, he’ll settle into a rhythm of drinking. You will very soon feel your let-down reflex kick in, which gets the milk flowing. You should be able to see more of your areola above your baby’s mouth than below it.
If you hear a slurping or clicking sound as your baby feeds, he’s probably not latched on properly. This can result in sore cracked nipples. Unlatch him by sliding a (clean) finger into the corner of his mouth and follow Steps 1–3 again.
4. Feed your baby for as long as he wants on one side. For the first few minutes, he will be getting foremilk, which is watery, to quench his thirst. After a while, the hind milk starts to flow, which is more calorific and satisfies his hunger. For this reason, keep feeding on one side for a good few minutes before swapping breasts, otherwise he may only get foremilk and be hungry again very soon. If you need to take him off, slip your finger into the corner of his mouth to break the suction.
Many new mums worry that their babies seem to need to feed constantly, day and night, without a break. New babies have tiny tummies that can hold only enough food to keep them going for short periods. They also have a lot of growing to do, so at first your baby may feed every hour or so. Later, he may go through growth spurts when he wants to feed more often than usual, but these usually last only a few days.
To increase your changes of successfully breastfeeding your baby, the most important thing you can do is get as much help as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask – as many times as necessary, for as long as necessary. If you’re still in hospital, a midwife can advise you and check that your baby is latching on correctly. You may find you need help with positioning and finding a comfortable position, too:
* Ask for the help of a breastfeeding counsellor. Most maternity units now provide qualified counsellors who can ensure your baby is latching on properly. This can take time and a lot of patience – a breastfeeding counsellor should have both of these.
* Go to antenatal classes, where you’ll be taught the basics. A number of hospitals run in-depth courses, as do the National Childbirth Trust (0870-444-8708; and La Leche League (0845-456-1855;
* Watch someone breastfeeding to see how to do it. But choose someone you know!
* Find the phone numbers for a few breastfeeding support groups in advance, so you can get help quickly if you need it.