Learning to breastfeed

Two women looking at breastfeeding resources.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. Learning about breastfeeding shouldn't wait until your baby arrives. 

During pregnancy it is helpful to learn about what to expect with feeding your baby. If your pregnancy is lower risk, start practicing hand expression of colostrum from 36 weeks on.

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. To prepare for feeding your baby, explore the resources below and the different sections of this webpage.

Access breastfeeding information online

Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class or breastfeeding support group meeting

Practice 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 your baby is not feeding often and effectively, reach out for help for breastfeeding. Keep up your milk supply by expressing your milk (see 'expressing milk' tab for more information).

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 express their colostrum and milk to increase or protect supply. It can also help:

  • In the last few weeks of a low-risk pregnancy, to help activate milk making cells
  • If baby is not feeding well due to sleepiness or medical reasons
  • If there is a need to temporarily separate from baby
  • To relieve breast fullness or tenderness
  • When feeding directly at the breast is not possible or preferred, and other feeding methods are needed

Expressing milk in late pregnancy and in the first few days after birth is best to do by hand. A few days after birth when milk volume increases, parents can continue to hand express or use a manual or electric pump.

Reach out for help with breastfeeding if you need to express milk in order to manage a feeding challenge.

Hand expression

Using a pump

Handling and storing milk


Featured resources

Featured NH StoriesNH Stories logo icon

For more information