Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

October 06, 2021

Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

woman carries babyPhoto from Luiza Braun

Breastfeeding is different for every mom. All babies and moms are created different, so take time to make your breastfeeding journey your own.

Contrary to how it looks, breastfeeding does not feel as natural as people expect it to be. But with practice, it gets easier. With the right guidance, you and your little one will be able to reap the benefits of breastfeeding.

How to breastfeed for the first time

Congrats, momma! You're breastfeeding for the first time and we're sure you have some apprehensions. Don't worry, we'll get you prepped and ready to feed in no time.

While you’re at the hospital after your delivery, take advantage of the nurses and lactation consultants that are there to guide you through breastfeeding. They will walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

The first thing you need to do is to make a good latch. You will know when your baby has a good latch when: 

✔️ It is painless

A good latch may be a little uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t be in pain.

✔️ Baby empties breast easily

You can feel your little one emptying your breast without issue.

✔️ No sore nipples

Pain or soreness is normal during the first minute of breastfeeding but should not continue for longer than that. If it’s painful, check the position of your baby. 

✔️ Quiet

You shouldn’t hear clicking sounds during breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Positions

To ensure a good latch, Here are some positions you can try:

  • Cradle Hold

Cradle the baby’s head in the crook of your arm. If your baby is nursing on your right breast, use your right arm to support the baby’s head and you can use your other arm to support the rest of the baby’s body. Use pillows to lift your baby to nipple height.

  • Cross-Cradle Hold

Cross-cradle hold is almost the same as the cradle hold except you will be supporting your baby using the opposite hand of your nursing breast. If your baby is nursing on your right breast, use your left arm to support the baby’s head.

  • Football Hold

The football hold gets its name from the way a football is held. Tuck the baby under your arm like a football, using the same side that you’re nursing from. With your thumb and fingers supporting your baby’s neck, guide your baby to latch on your breast.

  • Side-Lying

This position is most comfortable when you’re breastfeeding at home. Make your baby face you and guide the baby’s mouth to your nipple. Make sure that your little one is not straining to reach your nipple and you shouldn’t be bending down either.

  • Laid-back

Laid-back is the most common breastfeeding position. It's usually the first position you'll come to know while you're recovering in the hospital.When you leave your baby on your chest, your baby’s instinct is to search for food - towards your breast.

This position is especially helpful when you just had a C Section surgery, or if you've had twins and you need to breastfeed more than one baby.

  • Koala Hold

Imagine your baby is the koala and you’re the branch. That’s how you do the koala hold. Hold your baby upright by supporting using your thighs or hip. Your baby needs to be a little older since they need to be able to support their trunk.

  • Dangle Feeding

Dangle feeding can help relieve a clogged duct. It looks a little weird, because it requires you to dangle your nipple into your baby’s mouth by getting on all fours and crouching over your baby. Let gravity help you relieve clogged ducts and mastitis.

  • Dancer Hand

Dancer hand can be used if your baby needs some jaw support. You can do this by placing your hand under the baby’s chin, forming a U or C, and connecting the baby’s mouth to your breast.

What you can expect when you start breastfeeding

woman holding baby sitting under the tree

Photo from Unsplash

Breastfeeding for the first time can feel daunting. It will take a while for you to get into the rhythm of your baby's feeding needs. It's easy to overthink if you're doing it right, and if your baby is getting enough milk. Here are some reminders to help you out during your first few feeding sessions:

  1. Your baby may or may not feed during the first hour. That's completely fine.
  2. A small percentage of women are physiologically unable to breastfeed so even if you’re having a hard time breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean that you can’t.
  3. Your first few feedings aren’t made of milk. It’s made of colostrum. They are important antibodies that strengthen your infant’s immune system.
  4. Nipples should only be sore during the first few days you breastfeed and when you start a feeding session. If nipples feel sore for weeks and lasts through the whole feeding, contact your lactation consultant or doctor.
  5. Once you start breastfeeding, your breasts will start leaking. This is because of the letdown reflex, which is a sign that you are producing and releasing milk.
  6. Breast engorgement means that your are full of milk supply and that you’re making more than your baby uses. 

How to have a good feeding session

Once you’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding your baby, there are a few things you need to know in order to have a good feeding session (almost) every time.

  • Watch out for hunger cues

When your baby is crying out of hunger, that means it’s too late. Your baby will usually display hunger cues once he/she is ready to feed. Some feeding cues to watch out for are: 

  • When your baby is alert and active (quiet, alert stage)
  • When your baby starts lip smacking or sucking on their fingers
  • Sucking and lip smacking
  • Looking around, becoming alert

  • Time your feedings

How your baby feeds will be different from all other babies. Newborns will most likely feed every 1.5 hours to 3 hour, for about 8-12 times a day. As they get older, their frequency decreases into a more steady pattern.

How to know if your baby is getting enough milk?

There is no standard to how long and how much a baby should drink from you, but these are the signs that tell you your baby is getting enough nourishment.

  • During feeding, your baby’s sucks start out in rapid intervals then eases into a steady rhythm with swallows in between.
  • You can hear and see your baby swallowing.
  • Your baby’s cheeks are rounded and not hollow.
  • They are calm.
  • Your baby looks satisfied after feeding.
  • It’s normal for your baby to lose some of their birth weight in 2 weeks. After that, your baby should gain weight steadily.
  • Starting the 4th day, they should poop at least twice a day.

Breastfeeding Complications

Breastfeeding can sometimes come with complications. The best thing to do is to be aware of them and be ready when when they do occur. Some of the breastfeeding complications out there are:

Sore or cracked nipples

Thrush from the baby’s mouth can transfer to your breast and irritate your nipples, causing it to swell and be sore. If this happens, prescription ointments can help you out. 

If you’re simply living in a drier climate and need extra moisture, moisturizing your nipples can do the trick. Most nipple creams out there contain the ingredient lanolin, which is great since it is hypoallergenic and safe for your baby. No need to wash off the cream before breastfeeding your baby.

Bad latch

There is no other workaround regarding a bad latch other than practice. Consult a lactation consultant if you don’t seem to be making any progress despite trying different positions.

Breast engorgement

When you make more milk than your baby consumes, this can lead to breast engorgement. When this happens, you can use a warm compress around your nipples in order to promote milk letdown. If it feels sore, you can also prepare a cold compress in order to relieve any inflammation.



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Lack of milk supply

If you feel like you’re not producing enough milk, offer both breasts to your baby in 1 feeding session. You can also feed your baby often and for as long as they want so your body can adjust to the volume of milk that is demanded.


Mastitis is when your breasts become painful, hot, and swollen. The cause of mastitis can be traced to blocked milk ducts or milk that wasn’t expressed during the feeding and is stuck in the breasts.

Once bacteria on the skin or the baby’s saliva enters the milk duct, it can cause an infection.

To relieve mastitis, it’s recommended to empty your breasts of milk often. You can breastfeed more often and make sure that your milk has been fully consumed. A warm compress on the breasts can also help with the pain and inflammation. You can gently massage breasts to relieve the feelings of fullness.

Final Thoughts

Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for both you and the baby. It lowers your chances for cancers (breast, ovarian, etc.), and your breast milk also contains antibodies that strengthen your baby’s immune system. It saves time and money, and makes for a great bonding experience between you and your infant.

Let IceWraps support you during your breastfeeding journey. For any discomfort that needs a cold or warm compress, try out our products at IceWraps. Don't forget to take care of yourself as you take on this challenging role.

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