Position yourself and the baby
Find a position that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Sit up with your back supported. Bring the baby to you—not you to the baby. The baby's chest should face your chest and his or her mouth should be right in front of your nipple.
Support your breast
Support and narrow your breast with one hand using a "C hold," with all your fingers below the nipple and your thumb above it. The other hand is behind your baby's shoulders with your fingers up and supporting the head.
Bring the baby toward your breast
The baby's mouth needs to be wide open, like a yawn, before you try to have your baby latch on. You can try touching the middle of your baby's lower lip with your nipple until the baby opens his or her mouth. As you bring your baby toward your breast, use your other hand to support the breast and guide it into his or her mouth.
Make sure the baby's lips are flared
Both the nipple and a large portion of the darker area around the nipple (areola) should be in the baby's mouth. The baby's lips should be flared outward, not folded in (inverted). You may feel pain briefly when the baby latches on to the breast, especially in the first few days of breast-feeding. If the pain does not go away after the first minute, remove the baby from the breast by putting one finger into the corner of his or her mouth. This will gently break the seal, and you can start again.
Be sure the baby is latched on correctly
Listen for a regular sucking and swallowing pattern while the baby is feeding. If you cannot see or hear a swallowing pattern, watch the baby's ears, which will wiggle slightly when the baby swallows. If the baby's nose appears to be blocked by your breast, reposition him or her by raising the baby's hips or relaxing the baby's head back slightly, so just the edge of one nostril is clear for breathing.
Last Updated: May 4, 2009
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology