Breast milk is easy to digest and provides a complete meal for your newborn as it contains all the necessary nutrients to help your baby grow. Breastfeeding has health benefits for you as well as protecting your baby against infections and other illnesses.
In the weeks before your baby is born, you will want to learn about breastfeeding so that you feel comfortable with what to expect from yourself and your baby. This is also a time to discuss questions you may have with your midwife or doctor in the clinic.
This content was produced in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA). Raising Children Network thanks Renee Kam, ABA breastfeeding counsellor and private lactation consultant, Yasna Blandin de Chalain, maternal and child health nurse and counsellor, and Simone Casey, ABA breastfeeding counsellor and private lactation consultant.;
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After birth, it is important that your baby is placed skin-to-skin with you for as long as possible. This means that your baby is placed naked on your skin (between your breasts) with a towel or blanket placed over her/him. Skin to skin will keep your baby warm and, if left undisturbed, your baby will make his/her way to your breast and start feeding.
Your midwife will help you position your baby. Baby’s head should be free to move and her/his nose should not be blocked by the skin of your breast. Skin to skin contact also keeps both you and your baby calm, with babies usually crying less when in this position. If the first breastfeed is delayed, it is important to express your milk (colostrum) at this time (if possible in the first 2 hours after birth). This stimulates your breasts to build up your milk supply. Your midwife will assist you to feed the colostrum to your baby.
The first hours and days after your baby’s birth are the beginning of a new relationship between you and your baby. Like any new relationship, it takes time and practice to feel comfortable with each other and for you to feel confident feeding your baby. Spend plenty of time together, as close contact will help you to get to know and trust each other. If your baby has breastfed well after birth, they may not want to feed again for several hours, but it is important to have as much skin to skin contact with your baby in the first 48 hours to ensure they are latching and feeding well. This gives your baby easy access to your breasts and lots of opportunities to learn to breastfeed.
Learn to know your baby’s feeding cues. These are signs your baby is ready to feed. It is good to offer the breast as soon as your baby shows you these signs. It is normal to breastfeed eight to twelve times a day in the first few days.
If you have had previous breastfeeding issues, or if you have queries and would like to meet with a lactation consultant, please email Michelle Simmons, who is a Clinical Midwife Consultant in postnatal & infant feeding; or email Mary Dowswell, who is a Clinical Midwife Consultant in infant feeding & lactation in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
For more information on breastfeeding support, please see:
The following fact sheets will also help with problems you may experience while breastfeeding.
Westmead Women’s and Newborn Health also offer free breastfeeding information sessions which you are invited to attend if you are birthing at Westmead Hospital.
These sessions run for 2 hours once a month on a Thursday from 9:30-11:30am.
To book one of these classes, navigate to the registration page with Eventbrite.
Breastfeeding remains important even if your baby is in special care and cannot be with you straight away. Your midwife will help you with expressing colostrum/breast milk for your baby.
The following fact sheets answer questions about particular situations and breast feeding, for example breastfeeding after surgery.