Learning to breastfeed

It takes time, practice, and support to learn how to breastfeed and to feel confident feeding your baby. These two resources have some great tips to help you get off to a good start:

Explore the sections below for more information. Reach out for help with breastfeeding if you have any questions, concerns, or worries. If you have a premature baby, twins, or other special circumstances, you may need some extra help.

Skin-to-skin

In the first few days and weeks after birth, skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby is important. Right after baby is born, uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize baby’s temperature and blood sugar, enhances bonding between baby and their parent(s), and improves overall breastfeeding success. Skin-to-skin is important for all babies, whether born vaginally and by caesarean section (c-section).

These resources show how to do skin-to-skin safely:

Remember: Hold baby skin-to-skin when you are wide awake and follow safer sleep practices for infants.

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Position and latching on

It may take time to find a comfortable, relaxed position for you and your baby. Try different positions. A good position supports an effective latch (also known as deep attachment). An incorrect position and a shallow latch may cause sore, cracked nipples. If you need assistance to deeply attach your baby to the breast, help for breastfeeding is available.

Breastfeeding positions

Latching baby

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Expressing milk

Parents may need to express milk for a variety of reasons. A common reason is trying to increase or keep up milk supply. Expressing milk is also important if:

  • Baby is unable to feed due to medical reasons
  • There is temporary separation of parent from baby
  • Mother/parent is experiencing breast fullness or tenderness (known as engorgement)

Human milk can be expressed by hand, manual pump, and/or electric breast pump. Learn more about Feeding your baby: Expressing your milk (PDF) – Baby's Best Chance, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). If you need to express milk in order to manage a feeding challenge, it may be helpful to reach out for help with breastfeeding.

Hand expression

Using a pump

Handling and storing milk

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Supply and demand

It’s important for parents to learn to recognize and respond to their babies’ hunger and fullness cues. This helps to meet baby’s needs, helps to establish your milk supply, and can help to prevent breast engorgement. While you can’t see how much your baby is drinking while they are at the breast, signs that they are drinking well include: their chin dropping when milk is flowing; soft “kah” sounds when they swallow; lots of wet and dirty diapers; and good weight gain.

Responsive, cue-based feeding

Milk supply

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