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Breastfeeding - Learning the Basics

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a mom breastfeeding her baby

Breast milk is the only food your baby needs for the first six months.

Continue to offer breast milk until your baby is two years old and older.

Feed on Demand

  • Follow your baby's hunger and fullness cues. This will establish milk supply to match what your baby needs. Babies may feed about eight times in 24 hours
  • In the early days, breastfeed from both breasts to help make your milk supply. Later your baby may still feed from both breasts, or may be satisfied after one.

  • Feed on the first breast until the baby falls away from your breast. This usually tells you when your baby has had enough milk. Don’t rush though – your baby may just be resting and not yet finished.

  • After burping, offer the other breast. If still hungry, your baby will latch on, suck and swallow.

  • Begin the next feeding on the breast you didn’t use at the last feeding, or the one you finished last.

  • Watch for signs that your baby is feeding well. 

  • If baby isn’t feeding well, express or pump your milk at every feeding. It can be provided to your baby using another method such as a cup, spoon or bottle.

Watch a video on latching your baby.If your baby is two weeks old; you’re breastfeeding or expressing milk at least eight times a day; and you're concerned that you don't have enough milk, seek support from your healthcare provider. Some herbs and medicine may increase milk production, but they only work if you’re emptying your breasts often.

If it's not possible to give your baby your breast milk, try pasteurized donor breast milk (if available) or store-bought formula. A prescription from a doctor or midwife is required for donor milk. For more information about donor milk or becoming a donor, visit the BC Women’s Milk Bank website at

Learn together

Spend time cuddling your baby skin-to-skin. This closeness encourages your baby to feed often.  Seek out support and information to learn more about the skill of breastfeeding.  It takes patience.  You and your baby both need time to learn.  Spend time cuddling your baby skin-to-skin; this close contact encourages breastfeeding.  

Take Care of Yourself

Caring for yourself is important for successful breastfeeding. Make it a priority to get enough rest and sleep, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.  Ask for help from your partner, family and friends so you can focus on taking care of yourself and breastfeeding your baby.

Click here to find translated versions of this article in Chinese and Punjabi.

Resources & Links:
Breast-Feeding - Baby's Poor Weight Gain
Storing Breast Milk

VIDEO: Admission to Postpartum - Keeping Your Baby Skin-to-Skin
VIDEO: Baby's Feeding Cues and Behaviours
VIDEO: Breastfeeding Positions
VIDEO: Cup Feeding and Other Feeding Methods
VIDEO: Hand Expressing Milk
VIDEO: Latching Your Baby

Last Updated: January 4, 2016