Breastfeeding a newborn

When breastfeeding a newborn, you know you are giving your baby the most nutritious food with all the food groups, vitamins, minerals and lovely antibodies contained in it to nourish, satisfy and protect the baby. It is considered to be the complete food until your baby is 6 months old when it is recommended solids are introduced into your baby’s diet.

For some mums, breastfeeding just never works out and there are various reasons why this might be. If breastfeeding your newborn is difficult, expressing your milk and feeding it to the baby is an alternative option, while also seeking assistance from a lactation consultant or midwife. Call the hospital where your baby was born to speak with the midwifery team.

Formula feeding is another option if breastfeeding is not suitable for you and your baby. If formula feeding, it is best to discuss with the midwives which formula would be best for your baby.

While breastfeeding is natural, it has to be learnt by both you and your baby. The positioning of the baby at the breast and the attachment to the breast are really important.

Does breastfeeding hurt?

Initially and for some women, for the first few weeks, it is common when your baby attaches, to feel some pain. This should decrease substantially after a few sucks and improve as your baby learns to attach to the breast for each feed. If the pain persists, it is better to break the baby’s suck and reattach again. It is good to remember that while the nipple has the “holes” in it to allow the milk to come out, the baby’s mouth needs to cover a substantial part of the coloured area of your breast, the areola, to reduce nipple trauma and to allow for complete drainage of your breast.

Surprisingly, babies won’t drink the same amount or for the same length of time at each feed.  They are a bit like us – sometimes we want a sandwich and other times a 3-course dinner. Unless suggested otherwise, most babies should be fed when they are hungry, this is often called demand feeding and ensures your baby is fed when they are hungry, not when we think they should. Feeding on demand ensures your baby feeds better and is less inclined to “snack”.

For the first few weeks of life, your baby will usually “cluster feed” through the late afternoon or overnight. It is instinctive for them to do this to best stimulate your milk supply. After about three-four weeks, they will be more wakeful through the day and feed less at night. Remember this will alter for every baby.


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