Breastfeeding Basics

Breast Care

To prevent engorged breasts, aim for at least 8 to 12 feedings per day.

Make sure the baby takes in as much areola as possible. The areola is the dark area around the nipple.

To take the baby off the breast, gently put your finger between the baby's gums to break the suction.

If you feel comfortable wearing a bra while you breastfeed, make sure it is that right size and gives you the support you need.

Wearing breast pads can help keep milk off your bra. Change the pads often when they get wet. Don't use breast pads with plastic linings, this will cause nipple soreness.

Wash your breasts only when you shower. This is enough to keep them clean.

Reference: Best Beginnings Booklet, NWT, 2010

Proper Positioning and Latching

It is not uncommon for women to have trouble positioning and latching. Positioning helps the baby to get a good latch. This not only decreases the risk of the sore nipples, it reduces the baby's chances of becoming "gassy". A good latch allows the baby to control milk flow.


Here are some basic steps to help your baby latch onto the breast. Note, we are using the example of a latch on the left breast.

The cross cradle hold is often the easiest position for many mothers. These steps describe the technique.

  1. Hold the baby in your right arm, pushing the baby's bottom with the side of your forearm so that your hand turns palm upwards (towards the ceiling). This helps support the baby's body and will bring the baby in from the correct direction for a good latch.
  2. Your hand should be palm up under the baby's face (not shoulder or under his neck). The web between your thumb and index finger should be behind the nape of his neck (not behind his head).
  3. The baby will be almost horizontal across your body, with the head slightly tilted backward, and should be turned so that his/her chest, belly and thighs are against you. There should be a slight tilt upwards so the baby can look at you.
  4. Hold the breast with your left hand, with the thumb on top and the other fingers underneath, fairly far back from the nipple and areola.

The baby should be approaching the breast with the head just slightly tilted backwards. The nipple should point to the roof of the baby's mouth.

Latching On

  1. Get the baby to open up his mouth wide. To do this, run your nipple, still pointing to the roof of the baby's mouth, along the baby's upper lip (not lower), lightly, like a tickle, from one corner of the mouth to the other. Wait for the mouth to open as if yawning. As you bring the baby toward the breast, only his chin should touch your breast. The nipple should be pointing to the roof of the baby's mouth.
  2. When the baby opens his mouth, use the arm holding him to bring him straight to the breast. Don't worry about the baby's breathing. If he is properly positioned and latched on, he will breathe without any problem since his nose will be far away from the breast. If he cannot breathe, he will pull away from the breast because he is not latched properly.
  3. Use the same steps whether you are sitting or lying down: get the baby to open wide; don't let the baby latch onto the nipple and get as much of the areola (brown part of breast) into the mouth as possible (not necessarily the whole areola).
  4. A baby properly latched on will be covering more of the areola with his lower lip than with the upper lip.