Learning to breastfeed

It takes time, practice, and support to learn how to breastfeed and to feel confident feeding your baby. Take it one step at a time - every feed counts.

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 unique infant feeding needs, you may need some extra help.

Before baby arrives

Breastfeeding is normal, yet it is a learned skill. During pregnancy it is helpful to learn about what to expect with feeding your baby. When baby arrives, it may take time, practice, and support to get the hang of things. Take it one step at a time - every feed counts.

Learning about breastfeeding shouldn't wait until your baby arrives. To get breastfeeding off to a good start, explore the resources and supports below and the different sections of this webpage.

Access to breastfeeding information online

Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class or breastfeeding support group meeting

  • La Leche League Canada (LLLC)
  • The Pregnancy HUB (BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach programs)
    • Check availability on the HUB program schedule including:
      • Human milk feeding 101
      • Virtual Lactation Café

Consider hand expressing your milk in the last few weeks of your pregnancy


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.

Position and latch

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. Breast compressions can be useful if your baby is latched well but is sleepy or taking a long time to feed. You can use your hands to help your baby get more milk.

If you need assistance to deeply attach your baby to the breast, help for breastfeeding is available.

Breastfeeding positions

Latching baby

Latching when breasts are engorged

Breast compressions to move more milk

Responsive feeding

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

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)
  • Feeding directly at the breast is not feasible; other feeding methods are needed

Human milk can be expressed by hand, manual pump, and/or electric breast pump. Learn more about 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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