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Whether you need quick answers or detailed advice, this section is all about making breastfeeding work for you.

Challenging situations

Breastfeeding may be natural, but for most of us it takes a bit of practice. Even if you've breastfed before remember that your new baby hasn't, so try not to worry if getting the hang of it is taking a little longer than you expected.

There's lots of support out there

It's always OK to ask for help, whether it's talking to another mum at a breastfeeding support group, or speaking to your midwife, health visitor or calling the National Breastfeeding Helpline (0300 100 1212). They might give you some practical tips or refer you to a specialist Infant Feeding Advisor for some one-to-one guidance. You can also read on to find out more about the most common issues faced by mums.

Breastfeeding and caring for other children

When you've got more than one child breastfeeding can seem a bit daunting at first.

BREASTFEEDING AND CARING FOR OTHER CHILDREN

Got your hands full?

Sometimes breastfeeding a younger child can make an older child jealous. Don't let it put you off breastfeeding, your older child would probably be just as jealous if you bottle fed. Here are some top tips to help you breastfeed and give your older child plenty of attention too.

FeedGood's top tips

  • Explaining what's happening can make older children feel involved. Tell them that this is how their wee brother or sister has their breakfast/lunch/dinner because babies can't eat the same food as they do.
  • Biological nurturing (or laid back nursing) is ideal for mums with other children - being partly laid back means your body and whatever you're sitting on take most of the weight of your baby. Hands free, you can cuddle your other child, read a book together, or simply watch a children's programme on TV.
  • Some mums find a 'nursing box' really useful. This is a special collection of toys, games and things to do that you bring out only when breastfeeding. This makes feeding time something your older child looks forward to.

Try not to stop breastfeeding your newborn because your other child demands attention. Carrying on means your younger baby doesn't lose out on valuable breast milk, and also helps teach your older child about sharing.

Breastfeeding twins or more

If you've given birth to twins or more, breastfeeding can quite literally be a bit of a handful - but it's definitely not impossible. In fact, you may well be able to feed both babies at the same time. Find out more in our How to guide "Breastfeeding twins and more."

Common breastfeeding concerns for mum

Most mums really enjoy breastfeeding once they get the hang of it, but every now and again there can be difficulties. They're almost always easy to sort out - have a chat with your health visitor or midwife when you next get a chance. In the meantime, we've got lots of advice and support on common issues faced by mums in the pages below.

Sore and cracked nipples

This can sometimes happen when your baby isn't attaching properly.

What are the symptoms?

Your nipples will be painful and they may be very red, blistered or even bleeding. Your nipples will most probably be sore to touch and the pain will be at its worst when feeding your baby.

What causes it?

Incorrect attachment is the cause of the problem. Without your baby being correctly attached, your nipple will get squashed and may get sore or damaged. In the video below an Infant Feeding Advisor helps a mum overcome sore and cracked nipples by showing her how to correctly attach her baby to the breast. 

What's the solution?

Some mums like to use a soothing nipple cream to speed up the healing process, but the only real solution is helping your baby attach properly. Getting positioning right is normally the answer, although tongue tie might also be the cause - ask your health visitor or midwife to check your baby's mouth. Watching the video above on correct attachment should help to pinpoint why you might be sore, but if your nipples continue to be painful and don't heal soon, make sure to ask for further advice from your health visitor or midwife.

Mastitis

This is when your breast tissue becomes inflamed or infected.

breastfeeding mastitis

What are the symptoms?

Your breasts will likely be hot and painful and you may have noticed a sore lump or red area. You might also be suffering from flu-like symptoms. Similar to engorgement, mastitis is caused by a build-up of milk and typically happens 2-3 weeks after the birth while you and your baby are still getting the hang of breastfeeding.

What causes it?

Mastitis happens when milk can't flow along a duct (a milk channel in your breast). Milk then 'builds up' and can cause your breast tissue to become inflamed, causing the pain, lump or red area you may have noticed. Mastitis can happen due to missed or shorter than normal feeds, or too much pressure on your breast from your bra or clothing. However, the most common cause is incorrect positioning and attachment.

What's the solution?

A warm compress before feeding will soothe the pain, but the most important thing is to get someone to help you position and attach your baby correctly. Speak to your doctor if the inflammation or lump doesn't seem to be improving, they may prescribe anti-inflammatory tablets or antibiotics. Anything you're given will be safe for breastfeeding, but using antibiotics can make thrush more likely so try to make sure to empty your breasts when feeding.
 
It's probably the last thing you want to do, but try to carry on frequent breastfeeding during a bout of mastitis - emptying the breast is the only solution. Watch this next video to hear a mum's story on how she overcame mastitis.

Thrush

Thrush is a common fungal infection that can be passed between mum and baby.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of thrush vary, but sore, red, pale, shiny or itchy nipples are the most common signs. You may also experience a burning sensation or a sharp, shooting pain in your breast during or after feeds. A white coating may also appear on your baby's tongue, gums and inner cheeks. Watch this video to hear mum, Lisa, talk about how she spotted her little one had thrush. 

What causes it?

Thrush can happen at any time. It thrives on broken skin; warm, moist conditions and seems to be more common after taking antibiotics. Breastfeeding mums with cracked nipples who are taking antibiotics for mastitis have a higher risk of thrush.

What's the solution?

Thrush needs antifungal treatment prescribed by your doctor. Both you and your baby need to be treated at the same time because thrush passes very easily between mum and baby. To avoid re-infection make sure to:

  • Discard any stored milk expressed as the thrush infection will be present in the milk
  • Put your bras through a very hot wash to help kill the thrush
  • Avoid using breast pads

How can I stop it happening again?

Thrush can happen at any time, but if it's linked to taking antibiotics make sure to completely drain your breast after each feed by expressing any leftover milk. If you have thrush alongside sore or cracked nipples, then correcting how your baby attaches to your breast will help get rid of both problems. To find out more, read our How to guides on 'Sore and cracked nipples' and 'Correct attachment' below.

Engorgement

This is when your breasts become painfully swollen and heavy.

breastfeeding engorgement

What are the symptoms?

It's normal for your breasts to feel warm, heavy and tender when they first fill with milk around 3 days after your baby is born. However, if your breasts are hot, painful, hard and tight you may have engorgement. Following a few simple tips should sort the problem, which will stop it leading to mastitis and affecting your milk supply.

What causes it?

Simply, too much milk building up in your breasts. It's common in the first week after birth when both you and your baby are learning to attach and feed correctly, but it can happen any time when your breasts aren't emptied properly. Missed feeds or not letting your baby feed often and long enough can cause engorgement, although you could just be one of the mums that makes more milk than their baby needs. Expressing and donating breast milk is a great solution for these mums - find out more on our page 'The Scotland-wide donor milk bank." 

What's the solution?

Try to empty your breasts as much as possible, which can be tricky because it's difficult to get your baby to attach to an engorged breast. Try gently hand-expressing some milk before the feeds to soften the breast tissue and help your baby attach properly. If your breasts are still too full after feeding, express some more milk until you feel comfortable. Warming your breasts up with hot towels or heat packs can also help milk flow more easily.

How can I stop it happening again?

The key thing is to make sure your baby is correctly positioned and attached so your breasts release enough milk - they should feel fairly soft after every feed. Feed whenever your baby shows signs of being hungry and avoid infant formula, water and dummies. These lead to less frequent breastfeeding, which in turn leads to a build up of milk.

Have a read of the following pages on breastfeeding positions, correct attachment, and expressing and bottle feeding for more advice on how to overcome engorgement. 

Over supply of breast milk

Some mums produce too much breast milk, which comes with its own challenges.

What are the symptoms?

If you have engorged breasts and frequent leaking or spraying, you could be producing more milk than your baby needs. You'll be able to tell best from your baby's behaviour - if you're producing too much milk for your baby they may splutter, gasp, fuss and perhaps rapidly gain weight.

What causes it?

Everyone's different. Some mums produce too much milk, others produce too little and it's not always clear why. Sometimes over-supply is the result of expressing and stockpiling milk too often, or attempting to feed to a set schedule rather than whenever your baby shows signs they are hungry.

What's the solution?

Make sure you're only feeding when your baby is hungry and speak to your health visitor or a Breastfeeding Helpline Advisor (0300 100 0212) about your breastfeeding and expressing patterns. They may recommend stopping expressing for a while to bring down your supply to match your baby's needs. However, you could just be one of those mums whose bodies are made to make extra milk. An answer to your problem and something to consider would be to donate your excess milk to vulnerable babies whose mums can't breastfeed themselves. You can find out more about how to do this in our article on the Scotland-wide donor milk bank.

Leaking breasts

It’s perfectly normal for your breasts to leak while you are breastfeeding

leaking breasts

What are the symptoms?

It’s perfectly normal for your breasts to leak while you are breastfeeding. It happens most in the early days when your breasts are full or when your "letdown reflex" is activated by something making your body think that it's breastfeeding. It can also be an emotional response – some women report their breasts leaking when they hear their baby crying.

The solution

There’s no exact way to stop your breasts leaking. If you are feeding whenever your baby shows signs of hunger then this will help your breasts adapt to make the exact amount of milk your baby needs, and using breast pads will help stop milk leaking onto clothing and ensure nobody notices. For most mums leaking stops as their bodies get used to breastfeeding.

Low breast milk supply

Not having enough milk is one of the most common reasons mums give up on breastfeeding, but with the right support almost everyone will be able to feed for as long as they want.

Worried about milk supply

What are the symptoms?

Some mums worry they're not making enough milk because they're not sure if their baby has gained enough weight. You can check what's normal by reading our article 'Weight Gain' and looking at our 'Feeding Checklist'.

Occasionally mums don't produce enough milk for their baby. If your breasts never really feel full, your baby's weight gain is low and they seem unsatisfied or distressed, ask for help from your health visitor or a Breastfeeding Helpline advisor (0300 100 0212) on how to build up your milk supply.

What causes it?

There are a number of possible causes, including:

  • Formula: Some mums introduce formula as a quick fix, not realising it will make their milk supply even lower.
  • Attachment issues: if your baby isn't well attached they won't be encouraging a good flow of milk in your breasts.
  • Not feeding as soon as your baby shows signs of hunger: timing feeds, scheduling, missing night feeds or finishing feeds too early may upset your milk supply.
  • Medical and birth problems: some serious conditions can delay your milk supply but these are very rare. Speak to your midwife or an infant feeding advisor at the hospital if you're worried.

What's the solution?

There are several things you can do to establish and keep up a good supply of milk. Watch the video below for advice on how to make more breast milk and read our top tips.

FeedGood's top tips

  • Try to feed as often as possible rather than introducing alternatives, even if it feels like you haven't got any milk to give.
  • Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth is key in getting your supply off to a good start. Keeping your baby close and avoiding supplements of formula milk, teats and dummies will also help.
  • Making sure your baby is attached and feeding properly is vital. If your baby isn't attached correctly, they won't be taking in enough milk and so your body won't know it needs to produce more. Read our How to guides on positioning and attachment for some step-by-step advice.
  • Let your baby feed whenever they are hungry until they pull away. You don't need to worry about 'spoiling' your baby with too much milk, they will know how much they need (letting you know with feeding cues) and will only feed until they are full.
  • Be confident to use your instinct and wake a sleepy newborn who you don't feel is feeding enough or when your breasts feel tingly full. Breastfeeding works best when you use your instinct and respond to your baby and your own body. Trust yourself!
  • Expressing your milk can be really useful for building up your supply. It will also help your body continue making milk if you have to be away from your baby for any reason.

Common breastfeeding concerns for baby

Your newborn will most likely try to feed from your breast soon after birth, but that doesn't mean they're born knowing exactly how. Just like you, they'll need to learn to breastfeed and you'll need to help them overcome challenges along the way. Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor for help and advice if your baby is having any problems, and take a look the list below for immediate advice.

Sleepy and reluctant babies

All babies are different, but it's very common for babies not to feed all that much in the first 24-48 hours, and some don't attach at all. However, from day 2-3 days babies should become much more awake and feed in more frequent (but probably irregular) bursts at least 6 times in 24 hours - though often more.

Sleepy and reluctant baby 2

Why are some babies reluctant to feed?

This happens most often when babies don't get skin-to-skin contact with mum soon enough or for long enough after the birth. Ideally you want skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight away and for as long as it takes for your baby to want to feed. Some reluctant babies are just too tired, sore, or sedated to feed after birth, and others can't because they are premature, ill or jaundiced.

Missing your baby's signs that they're hungry

New mums sometimes miss or don't understand their baby's feeding cues - our page "Learning your baby's cues" explains what you should be looking for. It's completely understandable to be worried about how much milk your baby is getting if they're not feeding in the early hours and days. It might help to know that babies are born with several days’ supply of fluid and stored fat to get them by until they're ready to feed.

What's the solution?

Your midwife will check in on you to make sure your baby is well and to help you spot the signs that they're ready to feed. The video below shows just this - very often all it takes is a some help with positioning, skin-to-skin contact and a little patience!

Top tips to encourage a reluctant or sleepy baby to breastfeed

  • Start hand-expressing your colostrum and give it to your baby by syringe, spoon, dropper or cup. This helps to build a good milk supply for when your baby is ready to feed
  • Aim for lots of skin contact and closeness to soothe your baby and give them the opportunity to feed
  • Biological 'laid back' breastfeeding positions can help encourage babies to feed
  • Massaging your baby's skin, changing their nappy and expressing a little milk for them to taste can help get your baby interested in feeding
  • Don’t push your baby by the head or try to force them to feed as this could put them off completely
  • Read more about breastfeeding in the early days by following the links below.

Tongue tie

A tongue tie is where the fold of skin under the tongue is shorter than usual and may restrict the tongue's movement.

tongue tie baby

What are the symptoms?

Nothing needs to be done about tongue tie if there are no feeding issues. Some babies with tongue tie may appear fussy at the breast and feed infrequently and for short periods. They can slip at the breast and be windy and unsettled. You may also have some nipples pain and damage. Some babies who are bottle fed can experience problems too but this is less common.

What's the solution?

If your baby has difficulty feeding, ask your midwife or health visitor to asses one of your feeds, They will be able to offer support and advice, and if they feel the tongue tie is causing difficulty with feeding, they'll refer you to a specialist tongue tie clinic. There are several hospitals in Scotland that deal with this issue. It's a minor procedure but there may be a waiting list of two to three weeks.

Separating your baby's tongue-tie

Dividing your baby's tongue-tie is a simple procedure, usually over in less than a minute, and doesn't need a general anaesthetic when your baby is below 8 months. It won't be any more dramatic than your baby's inoculations. There may be a few drops of blood but this isn't normally a problem. The doctor will wrap your baby up with a towel, divide the tongue tie with sterile scissors and bring your baby back to you quickly so that you can feed them straight away. Some mums notice an improvement immediately, for others it'll take a few days. Your doctor should asses your baby's attachment after tongue tie and offer you advice.

Signs your baby isn't getting enough milk

However you are feeding your baby, you'll be able tell how well they're feeding by the contents of their nappy, their general appearance/behaviour, and their weight.

sign baby might not be getting enough milk

Nappy contents

In the first couple of days babies don't pass much urine and the first dirty nappies will contain a thick, black, tar-like substance called meconium.
 
  • Wet nappies: after the first few days, your baby should have at least six heavy wet nappies a day.
  • Dirty nappies: after the first few days, your baby should pass a soft yellow stool at least twice but usually many more times every day. For older babies (one month old and beyond) it’s normal for bowel movement frequency to change; some babies may only have a dirty nappy once a week but if everything else is okay, there’s no need to worry.
 
Warning Sign: If your baby has fairly dry nappies and doesn't poo often, it could be a sign they're not getting enough fluid. Let your health professional know if this is the case.
What to expect in a nappy

Appearance and behaviour

  1. Your baby should attach to the breast without a fuss at most feeds.
  2. They should seem content and satisfied after most feeds.
  3. Their skin colour should be normal - any jaundice should be going away.
  4. Your baby should be alert when they're awake.
 
Warning Sign: Contact your health visitor if your baby's behaviour and/or appearance regularly doesn't match with the above. You can find out more about jaundice by following the link at the bottom of this page.
 

Weight gain

Babies gain weight at different rates, but sometimes slower weight gain can be a sign your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
 
Warning Sign: Your health visitor will be keeping tabs on your baby's weight in your maternity record and then your red book. If they haven't flagged up a problem your baby is most probably doing fine. However, if you think your baby isn't gaining enough weight, let them know. They will do everything they can to make sure there are no feeding issues and that you're confident your little one is gaining a healthy amount of weight.

Refusing the breast

This happens with all babies at some point, so try not to worry!

refusing the breast

What are the symptoms?

Your baby might become cross and frustrated when you try to breastfeed them, moving their head from side to side.

What are the causes?

There are lots of possible reasons, including:
 
  • Illness, tiredness, lack of hunger
  • 'Nipple confusion' after being offered a bottle teat, dummy or a nipple shield
  • An uncomfortable breastfeeding experience, such as having their head 'pushed on' to encourage feeding
  • Your baby may be too full already, from formula milk, water, other fluids, or in the case of an older baby, solid foods
  • Teething or thrush in the mouth, which can both make feeding uncomfortable for babies
  • Drugs or alcohol in your breast milk may have affected the taste
  • Your smell and taste: babies may refuse the breast if you smell or taste differently for some reason, for example if you use a cream for sore nipples or a different perfume
  • Your period: some mums notice that their babies refuse the breast for a day or so before menstruating – it seems to change the taste of breast milk

What's the solution?

Often the only solution is patience, your baby will eventually become hungry enough to want to feed. Hold your baby next to you, skin-to-skin, as much as possible so you can respond straight away when they show signs of wanting to feed. If your baby continues to refuse to feed after a few hours, call your midwife, health visitor or doctor and get them checked.
 
If your baby seems sleepy and is younger than 2 weeks then call your maternity unit at the hospital urgently.

Poor weight gain

Babies gain weight at different rates, but for some babies slow weight gain could mean they're not feeding effectively.

Poor weight gain

What are the symptoms?

It's normal for young babies to lose weight in the early days as they use up the liquid and fat stores they are born with. However, if your baby continues to lose weight or is slow to regain their birth weight, your baby may not be getting enough milk.

Other clues are:

  • Unhappiness and frustration when feeding
  • Drowsiness, lots of sleeping and a lack of interest in feeding for long periods of time 
  • An especially quiet or non-demanding baby
  • Fewer wet and dirty nappies (read our article 'What's normal, What's not' to find out more on what to expect in a nappy)

Watch the video below for tips on how to know you're baby is feeding well

What are the causes?

Poor weight gain can happen at any time, maybe if breastfeeding hasn't got off to a good start or if any issues picked up on the way haven't been resolved. Many mums worry that they simply aren't making enough milk, but it's more likely to be attachment or positioning issues. Check with your health visitor or midwife before thinking about a switch to formula milk or starting solids early.

What's the solution?

You can help your baby get all the milk they need to gain weight at a healthy rate by:
 
  • Getting positioning and attachment right. Read our How to guide on "How to breastfeed" and ask your midwife or health visitor to check you're doing it right.
  • Feeding responsively, responding as soon as you can to your baby's signs they're hungry and feed for as long as your baby wants.
  • Offering both breasts at every feed. Your baby may only take one, but offer the second anyway. Babies naturally pause during a feed, so when you think they might be finished, they may just be having a rest.
  • Waking your baby if they like to sleep a lot so you can feed them more.
  • Using your instincts as a mum. Call your doctor, midwife or health visitor if you think your baby is unwell because they are drowsy and/or uninterested in feeding.

 

Feeding frequently and cluster feeding

Some mums find that their babies want to feed almost around the clock.

Feeding frequently and cluster feeding

What are the symptoms?

Frequent feeding and cluster feeding (having lots of feeds close together at certain times of the day) can happen at anytime, but it's more common in the early weeks and months. All healthy breastfed newborns feed frequently after day 2-3, at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, and both younger and older babies may 'cluster feed.'

What are the causes?

  • Your newborn may feed a lot because their tummies is tiny and breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
  • Your baby may be preparing for longer stretches of sleep or catching up on feeding if they haven't eaten as much during the day.
  • Being over tired, teething, or some other discomfort could be making them fussy.
  • They could be having a growth spurt and cluster feeding to increase the amount of milk you make. With each and every feed your baby is telling your body how much milk they need.
  • Babies often cluster feed for comfort, to feel close to you and loved.

You may feel like you're feeding constantly, but building up your supply and making a loving bond with your baby are both very important.

What's the solution?

It's always recommended you offer your breast when your baby shows signs of wanting to feed. Babies frequently feed or cluster feed because they're hungry or looking to be soothed by mum. Our advice is to get comfy on the sofa in a laid back position so you can have your hands free, put a film on, and forget about any chores. This stage is exhausting, but we promise it doesn't last forever!

Jaundice

This is a common condition that turns babies' skin yellow.

Jaundiced baby

What are the symptoms?

Many babies develop jaundice soon after birth. It usually lasts for up to two weeks and is no reason to worry. If your baby has jaundice, the skin on their face and upper part of their body will look a bit yellow. Mums of babies with darker skin tones might notice yellowing better in other part of their baby's body - such as the whites of their eyes, inside their mouth, and on the soles of their feet and palms of their hands. Some babies will need light treatment for jaundice, particularly premature babies, but for most it clears itself.

You should be a bit more concerned and speak to your midwife and health visitor urgently if:

  • Your baby is sleepy and not feeding very often
  • Jaundice appears within the first 24 hours of life
  • Your baby seems unwell
  • The jaundice isn't clearing within 2 weeks*
  • Your baby has dark urine and pale poo
*A doctor will review your baby, but in most cases they'll be fine. Some babies have a longer period of jaundice called breast milk jaundice - however, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any risks associated with it.

Why does it happen?

Jaundice is common in newborn babies because they have a high level of red blood cells. When red blood cells are broken down, a yellow substance called bilirubin is produced which travels in their bloodstream to the liver. The liver's job is to processes the bilirubin so it can be passed out of the body in poo. However, as babies have lots of red blood cells and underdeveloped livers, they often have a tough time processing this bilirubin - which can then build up and cause jaundice.

What's the solution?

Most of the time, the only thing to do is wait for the jaundice to clear. By about the second week, your baby will be making less bilirubin and their liver will be better at removing it from their body. Jaundice often corrects itself without causing any harm. If you're breastfeeding, your baby's jaundice may last longer than it would for formula fed babies but this is often normal. In rare cases, jaundice may be the result of another health problem. Your health visitor will be closely monitoring your baby's jaundice, especially if it's lasting longer than normal, and may suggest some tests.
 
If you have any concerns, then don't hesitate to talk to your health visitor or doctor.

Early large weight loss

Your baby's weight will be monitored and if your midwife has any concerns they might check if your baby is feeding effectively. It's normal for babies to lose some weight to start with - but if it's more than 10% of their birth weight then your midwife will track your baby's weight more closely.

early large weight loss

You should be a bit more concerned if:

  • After the first 48 hours your baby has dryish nappies (less than 5-6 a day) and still has dark stools - this could mean that your baby is losing too much weight.
  • Your baby has an orange stain in their urine - this is common, but if it's not starting to clear 2-3 days after birth you should mention it. Your baby seems unsettled and feeds constantly or is getting sleepier and more jaundiced.
  • There are no signs that your breasts are getting fuller.

Speak to your midwife urgently if you're at home and have any concerns - you may need to be re-admitted back into the maternity ward and have your baby checked over by a doctor.

What are the causes?

Early, large weight loss is more common if:

  • your baby is not correctly attached at the breast
  • your baby is small, slightly premature, a twin, jaundiced, unwell or sleepy after the birth
  • you have a cesarean section or a complicated birth
  • losing a lot of blood can delay milk supply, though this is very rare

What's the solution? 

Correct positioning and attachment very often solves the problem, allowing your baby to get all the milk they need to quickly regain any lost weight. In some cases, all it takes is expressing and/or skin-to-skin contact with your baby to get your milk supply going.

Your midwife may carry out a feeding assessment (you can try this yourself using our Feeding checklist). She'll be checking to see if your baby is correctly attached and if their feeding behaviours include deep sucks, pauses and swallows, which will help her see how well your baby is feeding. If your baby's weight loss is a bit higher than expected, a doctor will also check that your baby is well.

FeedGood tips to help your baby regain weight:

  • Lots of skin contact
  • Feeding as soon as your baby shows signs of being hungry, at least 8 times in 24 hours
  • Checking your baby is correctly attached
  • Straight after breastfeeding, express any extra milk If you've been advised to express your breast milk - feed it to your baby immediately.
  • Don't panic if you get very little in the first expressions - expressing is also meant to stimulate the supply. You will need to express about 8 times in 24 hours on top of your breastfeeds to top up your baby's fluid.

Higher weight loss, premature and sleepy babies

If your baby's weight loss is at a higher level and/or your milk supply remains low you may need to give your baby formula supplements until your milk supply increases - in most cases this happens very quickly. You may need to stay in hospital and express for longer if your baby is premature or very sleepy to start the feeding process off well and to make sure your baby gains enough weight.

Low breast milk supply

Even after following these steps, a few mums will still have difficulty making enough milk. We don't always understand why this happens, but it's definitely not your fault and it doesn't make you any less of a brilliant mum. Just be proud of whatever breastfeeding you manage, and of the beautiful baby you've made.

How to breastfeed

Breastfeeding is something you and your baby learn to do together. Even if things don’t go well at first, don't feel it's your fault or give up straightaway. Most issues can be resolved by following the advice in these four pages.

Correct attachment

We’ve broken the process down into simple steps with photographs to help you - there's also a video showing incorrect and correct attachment at the bottom of this guide.

Step 1: Hold them close

step 1 correct attachment
  • Your baby shouldn't have to stretch to reach your breast.
  • Their head, neck, chest and hips should all face the same direction - it's difficult for your baby to swallow if their body is twisted. Their head should be tilted back slightly
  • Their nose should be level with your nipple, so that when they attempt to attach your nipple they can safely reach the back of their mouth.

Step 2: Make sure their head is free to move

correct attachment step 2
  • Support your baby behind the neck and shoulder, making sure they can move their head freely.
  • Watch your baby instinctively tilt their head back and open their mouth wide.
  • Bring your baby swiftly to your breast (not the other way round). Their tongue and lower lip should make contact with your breast first.

Step 3: Watch for a wide open mouth

  • Their chin should be touching your breast and their cheeks should be full and rounded.
  • If any of your areola (the darker area around your nipple) is visible, more should be seen above your baby's top lip than below their bottom lip.
  • Your baby should be calm.
  • Your baby should be sucking rhythmically, swallowing and pausing during the feed.
  • Any discomfort you feel should only be for the first few seconds. If breastfeeding is sore for you throughout a feed, you and your baby may need extra help attaching correctly.

Still feeling some discomfort?

Watch this video to see if you can pinpoint where the problem might be and ask your health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor for their advice.

Breastfeeding positions

There's lots of different breastfeeding positions, so it's important to find one that suits you and your baby. You may also need to try different positions as your baby gets older and bigger. Have a look at the pictures below for some ideas - your midwife, health visitor or other mums may have other suggestions too.

Laid back positioning (or biological nursing)

You may find this ‘laid back’ position useful in the early days, or if you and your baby have difficulty attaching.

Laid back positioning

It’s important to find a position where your breast hangs naturally

When your baby comes off the breast naturally, offer them your other breast. They may not always take it, but whether they do or not, always start the next feed with your second breast.

Natural breastfeeding positions

Remember to tuck your baby in close

There is no 'normal' length of time for feeding. Let your baby finish feeding on one side and always offer the other breast. Wait for signs that your baby has finished. Most babies will move from having deep sucks and swallows to having little "flutter sucks", then detach themselves from the breast or just stop swallowing.

biological nursing

Start again or change position if you feel pain

When your baby is in a good position they can attach correctly at the breast and feed effectively.

If you carry on in the same position you may end up with sore nipples and your baby may not be getting enough milk. You can break the suction safely by putting your finger in the side of the baby's mouth between the gums. Make sure to speak to your health visitor, other mums, or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 if you're struggling to find a position that works for you both.

break suction when breastfeeding

Don't worry if you don't immediately find a breastfeeding position which works for you and your baby- most mums need a wee bit of time. In the video below, a mum tells her story about getting the hang of good positioning and attachment.

Breastfeeding at home

Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, forget about housework and just concentrate on you and your baby. Make sure you're comfortable because if your baby's really hungry you could be in the same position for quite a while!

breastfeeding at home

FeedGood's top tips for feeding at home

  1. Choose somewhere you feel calm and comfortable - maybe you have a favourite chair or sofa. If bed is your favourite place then go ahead and feed there!
  2. Lie back and let your body rather than your hands support your baby, that way you can use use your hands to read a book, scroll through more Feed Good articles on your mobile, or cuddle another child. However, it's important not to fall asleep with your baby on a sofa or in bed
  3. Make sure you have the remote control or a magazine beside you.
  4. Treat yourself to a snack to keep your energy up and always have a glass of water within easy reach. Breastfeeding is thirsty stuff!
  5. Use cushions to support your back and relieve tension from your shoulders.

Have a look at the links below for more advice on making breastfeeding as comfortable and enjoyable as it should be.

Learning your baby's cues

Babies may not be able to talk, but they can still communicate and make demands! The key to a healthy, happy baby is knowing when they want to feed and feeding them before they get upset and cry - you'll soon learn your baby's own signs. Don't worry about 'spoiling' them - feed as often and for as long as they want.

There are three stages of feeding cues, early, mid and late.

The image below shows each stage:

learning your babies cues

Learning to spot when your baby is hungry

Try to feed your baby before they become upset - however it's easy to miss early and mid cues, especially if they've been sleeping. The short video below shows how your baby might wake and look for a feed.

How to stop breastfeeding

The longer you breastfeed the better for you and your baby, but there will probably come a time when you want to stop. Here’s some tips to help:

How to stop breastfeeding babies

Over time your baby will stop looking to be breastfed if you gradually increase the gaps between feeds by offering your baby a drink from a cup or a bottle instead, or a snack if they’re eating solid foods. It’s important not to stop breastfeeding suddenly as that can lead to engorgement and mastitis.

If your baby is under 1 when you decide to stop you’ll need to give them formula but 1 year olds+ can have cows’ milk.

How to stop breastfeeding toddlers

Again, it’s important to stop breastfeeding gradually. Toddlers can sometimes be a little resistant to change, so these tips might help avoid some tantrums and tears!

  • One approach would be to keep on breastfeeding only when your little one asks, but stop offering them the breast at any other time and give them drink from a cup instead
  • If they are a bit older, tell them your plans to stop breastfeeding. If they are old enough to understand about time, you could make stopping a special date to aim for. This way, they might be prepared when the time comes.

Can I breastfeed in special circumstances?

There are a number of special circumstances that might mean that you need a bit of extra help to breastfeed your baby. Whatever your situation is, you should be able to find info and advice in one of the next pages. If you can't find what you're looking for below, speak to your health visitor.

Breastfeeding twins and more

Don't feel you have to rule out breastfeeding if you're having more than one baby.

Getting extra support to breastfeed

Lots of mums with more than one baby are able to breastfeed with a bit of extra support. Feeding cushions are often key for breastfeeding mums of more than one baby, and the rugby hold is great for feeding twins. It may take more time for you to get into a routine that works, but once you do you'll find breastfeeding a great way to calm your babies and help you feel that special bond. 

breastfeeding twins

Whether you breast or bottle feed, feeding can take up quite a lot of your time in the first few months. If you choose to breastfeed, ask for extra help with breastfeeding, positioning and attachment when you're in hospital. You'll also need all the support you can get from your midwife, health visitor, family and friends once you're home. Watch the video below to see how a mum breastfeeds her newborn twins- with a little help from her partner and some cushions.

Feeding responsively

It's important to try and feed your babies as soon as they show signs they're hungry. Each baby might want to feed at the same or at different times - so if you have twins you might want to give both babies a breast each and feed them at the same time. It's important never to force a baby to feed, even if their sibling is feeding.

You won't be able to feed twins at the same time at first if one of your babies is smaller and needs to feed more often. You'll need extra help to care for twins with different feeding demands. Don't feel guilty about this, you are making your weaker baby stronger like their sibling - your twins' needs will soon match up and make life much easier.

Breastfeeding premature twins

There's even more reason to breastfeed twins as multiple babies are more likely to be born prematurely. The antibodies found in breast milk will better protect your more vulnerable babies against infections, and their underdeveloped tummies will digest breast milk much easier than formula. You can find out more about breastfeeding sick and premature babies by reading the next article in this section.

Breastfeeding triplets or more

If you have a really good supply and your babies are not too premature, you won't have any trouble breastfeeding triplets or more. You could also give them your expressed milk if breastfeeding is a bit daunting. However, some mums of triplets or more choose to combine formula feeding with breastfeeding, or choose to feed their babies exclusively with formula. You should always try to feed your babies as soon as they show signs that they're hungry, although your babies may fall into a pattern if you offer them feeds at the same time. Bottles must be freshly prepared for each feed, so make sure you ask your partner, family or friends for help with this.

Breastfeeding premature and sick babies

Breastfeeding is the best thing for a sick or premature baby. Not only will it give them the nutrition they need to get stronger, it will also protect them from infection. Find out more about why it's so important in the video below.

Expressing your breastmilk for a premature or ill baby

If your baby is sick or premature they probably won't be able to feed from the breast at first. Instead you'll be encouraged to express your breast milk so your baby can be fed though a tube or syringe. The earlier and the more you express, the more milk you will produce when your baby is stronger and ready to start feeding from the breast.

Remember, your baby may only need small amounts of milk to begin with, but it's really important to be prepared for when your baby is bigger and needs more milk. Watch this video for guidance on how to use an electric pump.

You can sometime rent or loan an electric pump from the hospital. Sometime you might have to hire or buy one. Your midwife or neonatal nurse will be on hand to help you get started. Have a look at the FeedGood guide on 'Expressing and bottle feeding' for more information.

FeedGood's top tips for expressing and feeding a premature baby

  • Start expressing within two hours of giving birth, even if your baby is refusing or too sleepy to feed.
  • Aim to express 8–10 times in 24 hours especially in the first couple of weeks.
  • Ask your neonatal nurse or midwife to check your expressing technique.
  • Have a big glass of water before you go to bed, needing the toilet can then be a natural alarm for a night time expressing session.
  • Express in clusters (2-3 times close together) to give you a bit of space. However, don’t leave more than four hours during the day and six hours during the night between expressing.
  • Don't worry if your milk supply suddenly drops. Skin to skin contact with your baby, a breast massage or simply relaxing will encourage your milk to flow again.

Preparing for the first breastfeed

premature baby

Babies can practice breastfeeding during skin-to-skin contact by licking or even taking the nipple in their mouth. From around 32–34 weeks your baby will begin to manage sucking, swallowing and breathing at the same time and, if well, may be ready to feed from your breast. Babies all progress at different rates and it's important to take one day at a time. Small premature babies tire easily and may take some time to fully establish breastfeeding. Our section on "How to breastfeed" will help you get ready.

UNICEF Baby Friendly initiative have produced a booklet "Supporting love and nurture on the neonatal unit" which provides more information about breastfeeding and caring for a premature baby.

Breastfeeding and medication

Some medication can affect your breast milk, but it's easy to check. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Breastfeeding and medication

How do I find out if I can breastfeed on my medication?

You can check the Drug Factsheet from the Breastfeeding Network for the latest advice on all medications, from migraine tablets to what you can take if you have flu or a toothache.

The Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline

There's also a Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline (0844 412 4665) if you'd rather talk to someone instead. The line is run by a qualified pharmacist who is also a breastfeeding advisor 'supporter'. Your call might not always be answered straight away, but if you leave a voicemail they'll phone back as soon as possible.

Breastfeeding and caesarian section

Having a caesarian shouldn't stop you from breastfeeding, though you might need some extra help.

breastfeeding and caesarian section

Don't give up on your plans to breastfeed

Whether your caesarean is planned or unplanned, if you and your baby are well after the birth you can still have immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed as normal. You'll probably be a bit groggy from the drugs you were given and starting to feel a bit sore, so it's best to breastfeed lying down. Your midwife will help position your baby safely away from your cut, but make sure someone stays with you to help in case your baby falls off your breast or their nose get blocked. The video below shows a mum having skin-to-skin contact with her newborn immediately after giving birth by caesarean section.

What about medicine getting in your milk?

Any medication you're given won't affect your breast milk, but it may make you and your baby a bit sleepy. So, try to take pain relief only when you really need it - the effects of the spinal/epidural and painkillers can make make breastfeeding challenging in the beginning. For more advice on this and drugs in breast milk, read our pages on 'sleepy and reluctant babies' and 'breastfeeding and medication.' 

What happens when I get home?

You'll likely be sore for the first week or two and find it difficult to move properly. If it's possible, see if your partner can take extra paternity leave. If not, ask for help from friends and family. Positions where you are laid back will be the most comfortable - read our guide on positions and ask your midwife or health visitor to show you the ones they recommend.

Breastfeed early and often

It's best to breastfeed within the first hour to start building your milk supply, it's also a lovely way to bond with your wee one. If you can't do this, speak to your midwife about expressing your milk. You can learn how to express in our section on "Expressing breast milk in the early days."

What to wear when you are breastfeeding

You really don't need to buy anything special to breastfeed, but special nursing bras and ordinary items of clothing can make breastfeeding extra comfortable and easy when on the go.

Find out what to look out for in our next two pages.

Getting a new bra

A good nursing bra needs to be stretchy to support the changing shape of your breasts as they fill and empty.

getting a nursing bra

What should I look for in a nursing bra?

The important thing to know is that your bra, nursing or not, should never be so tight that it presses or squeezes your breasts - this can lead to mastitis.
 
If you're looking to buy a nursing bra, these are the things to look out for:
 
  • Four hook-and-eye fastenings, rather than the normal one or two
  • Wider shoulder straps with a broad back and sides
  • Cups that you can open and close with one hand

Do I need to get measured?

Whether you're buying a nursing bra or a normal bra, it's a good idea to be measured so that you know your bra fits properly. Don't buy your nursing bra too early in your pregnancy - wait until the last month to buy your first one, then get re-measured 6 weeks after your baby arrives.
 
If you can, visit a high-street store for a professional fitting - they will advise you on what size to buy so that it fits comfortably.

Breastfeeding friendly clothes

You don't need to buy a new wardrobe for breastfeeding, but certain clothes are more comfortable and will keep you fairly covered while feeding your baby.

breastfeeding friendly clothes

FeedGood's top tips

  1. Layering: wear a single top under another top, such as a vest and a looser top or jumper. This means you can pull one top up, not expose any skin and still be warm.
  2. If you're feeling self conscious wear jeans, leggings or a skirt that sits a bit higher than normal. This will cover your tummy when you lift up your top to feed.
  3. Looser tops hide more skin, which is useful for older babies who often stop to look around during their feed.
  4. A large scarf is really useful. Out and about it will cover baby sick and spills, shield your baby from the cold or the sun and cover you when you're breastfeeding.
  5. If you prefer dresses, look for stretchy material or wrap dresses.
  6. Most importantly, get a good fitting bra or two. Nursing bras are recommended because they stretch more, allowing for the changing size of your breasts. Some supermarkets now sell nursing bras but if you can't find one for a decent price, just make sure to wear a bra that's on the big side.

Mums' top tips

Expressing breast milk and bottle feeding

Expressing your milk allows your baby to get breast milk wherever, whenever - even if you're not around. It's also a great way to stimulate your milk supply.

In this section you'll find everything you need to know about hand and pump expressing. You'll also learn how to safely feed your baby expressed breast milk.

Expressing breast milk by hand

Hand expressing is the easiest way for new mums to express their milk.

Learn how in 4 simple steps

Follow the pictures and advice as you hand express the first few times. If you have any problems, speak to your midwife or health visitor.
 
  • Step 1: Start off by encouraging your milk to flow. Being near your baby or having a picture of them will help. Then begin gently massaging your breast and nipple to stimulate the hormones needed to release milk.
expressing breastmilk by hand step 1
  • Step 2: Position your thumb and fingers in a ‘C’ shape, 2 to 3 cm back from the base of your nipple.
expressing breastmilk by hand step 2
  • Step 3: Gently press, release and repeat until your milk starts to flow. This may take a few minutes.
expressing breastmilk by hand step 3
  • Step 4: When the flow slows down, move your fingers round to a different part of your breast and start again. Then repeat with your other breast.
expressing breastmilk by hand step 4

Using an electric breast pump

Using an electric pump is often the quickest and most efficient way for mums to express their milk.

using an electric breast pump

Where to get an electric breast pump? 

Almost all maternity units have electric pumps for use in the unit. Some also have pumps you can borrow if your baby is in the neonatal unit or if you're having trouble with feeding. If you choose to express your milk you'll need to find your own pump. Buying a hand or a small electric breast pump, which runs on batteries or from the mains, is a good investment. You can also hire breast pumps from electric breast pump companies and some voluntary organisations - find out more in our next page.

How to set-up an electric breast pump

Electric breast pumps branded either Medela or Ardo are most commonly used in Scotland's hospitals. This first video uses a Medela electric pump to show you how to set-up an electric breast pump correctly - but both models are very similar, so the advice given should largely apply to Ardo pumps too.

How to use an electric breast pump

Mum comfortable and machine set-up correctly, this next video uses an Ardo electric breast pump to show you how to effectively express your breast milk.

How much to express?

As a rough guide, a baby under three months will take 100-120 ml (3-4 ounces) of expressed breast milk per feed, and a baby over three months will take 150-200 ml (5-7 ounces) per feed. However, this is approximate and after a few tries you'll soon know how much your own baby needs.

Renting a breast pump

Some health boards lend electric pumps to mums who need them

Ask your midwife

Ask your midwife or contact your health board to find out more about lending a breast pump - there may be a charge for some mums. You can also hire a hospital pump from the manufacturers directly.

The 2 main UK companies are Ardo and Medela, and you can find out more by visiting their websites:

Breast milk storage and bottle hygiene

Just like normal milk, breast milk must be stored carefully to stop it going sour. Follow these tips to make sure none of your milk goes to waste.

Getting ready to express

wash hands before expressing breast milk
  1. Wash your hands
  2. Make sure whatever you're collecting your milk in is very clean and dry (you don't need to sterilise it though - this is new advice in Scotland)
  3. Use a different container with a lid to store your milk. Again, check it's clean and dry.

Storage

breastmilk storage
  1. Label storage containers with the time and date to make sure you don't use any spoiled milk
  2. Store your milk in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible
  3. Store at the back of the fridge and not in the door, away from meat products, eggs and uncooked food.

Storage times and temperatures

  1. You can store your breast milk for up to 3 days in a fridge running below 10ºC
  2. Breast milk stored in a fridge running under 4ºC can be stored between 4 and 8 days
  3. Freeze your milk if you won't be using it in time
  4. Keep an eye on the temperature of your fridge - opening the door frequently can make it rise. If there's no built in thermometer, borrow or buy a fridge thermometer available from kitchenware stores
  5. Use a cool bag or box with frozen ice packs to transport milk

Using stored breast milk

using stored breast milk
  1. Defrost frozen milk in the fridge, but if you need it quickly it is safe to defrost under cool, then warm (not hot) running water.
  2. Dry the outside of the container with a clean towel or kitchen roll before use
  3. Use stored breast milk straight from the fridge
  4. To avoid overheating never use a microwave, always heat in warm water
  5. Use defrosted breast milk immediately - throw away anything unused
  6. If it smells sour, it has spoiled. Don't use it!
  7. When stored the cream and milk may separate out. This doesn't mean it's spoiled - just gently mix it before use
  8. Use a very clean bottle, cup or syringe to feed your baby. There's no need to sterilise. Just clean everything thoroughly in hot, soapy water and completely air dry, checking there's no dried in milk or soap left behind.

The Scotland wide donor milk bank

Scotland has one large milk bank, based in Glasgow, that collects and provides milk for premature and sick babies across the whole of the country.

donor milk bottles

Thinking about donating your breastmilk?

In Scotland, most premature babies are given donor breast milk when a new mum can't express or breastfeed. If you have an oversupply of breast milk, or your baby has finished with breastfeeding but you feel like you could carry on, your milk would be greatly appreciated at the milk bank to help give another baby the best start in life.

Here's what you need to know:

  • You don't need to live near Glasgow to donate. The service will collect from all over Scotland - although if you live a long distance away you may be asked to store in larger volumes.
  • Your milk will be tested for unwanted bacteria and pasteurised. All breast milk has bacteria in it, and in normal circumstances this is good for normal, healthy babies. However, because donated milk is used to feed preterm or sick babies, all unwanted bacteria is removed to avoid any risk.
  • You can donate milk already stored in your fridge or freezer, but the milk must be pasteurised within 90 days. Let the milk bank know as soon as possible so that it can be transported before it spoils.
  • You'll need to have a blood test before you donate to make sure your milk is safe.
Visit www.onemilkbankforscotland.co.uk/ for more information.

Getting support from family and friends

It can be overwhelming becoming a mum, especially when you're breastfeeding round the clock and not getting enough sleep. Fortunately, your partner, parents, friends, or even a neighbour - can play a role in helping you breastfeed your baby.
 
Follow the links below for information to show them on how to help you and your baby.

Talking to friends and family about your decision to breastfeed

Depending on how your friends and family feel about breastfeeding, you may find it difficult to feed in front of them.

talking to friends and family about breastfeeding

Let them know why you're breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the normal and healthiest way to feed your baby, but you still might have to explain to your family and friends why you want to do it.
 
  • Talk to them about how much you want to do this for your baby
  • Explain that although it may seem awkward to them at first, breastfeeding can be done very discreetly - there won't really be much to see!
  • Show them this website and the breastfeeding book your midwife will give you during your pregnancy so they can read for themselves about how healthy it is to breastfeed

Watch the video below to hear how a mum like you deals with her friends' and family's opinions on her decision to breastfeed. 

Building confidence and getting out and about

Feeling self-conscious about their bodies and nervous about what family and friends think sometimes means mums give up on breastfeeding. Read on to find out ways to help build confidence and feel more comfortable about getting out and about again.

Should I have a routine by now?

The best thing you can do in the early days and weeks is feed your baby whenever they show signs of being hungry and for as long as they want. Many babies fall into a pattern as their tummy grows and they get used to day and night hours. However, your baby is growing at such a rate that the pattern may change frequently - this is completely normal.

mum playing with young baby

Respond to your baby's pattern

Your baby’s brain is changing very quickly so they need to know they're safe, secure and loved to grow into happy children. You can make them feel this way by:
 
  • Responding quickly to signs they're hungry or upset
  • Limiting the number of people caring for your baby
  • Holding, carrying and cuddling your baby
  • Making eye contact, talking to your baby and smiling!
 
Research shows that it's best for your baby to give them time to fall into their own eating and sleeping pattern - though it can be exhausting if your baby doesn't fall into any type of schedule after a few months. Just hang in there, the time between feeds will grow longer as your baby's tummy develops and they'll soon start to sleep longer at night.

Changes to my body and breasts

Breastfeeding doesn't have a lasting effect on your body shape.

changes to body and breasts

Your body after giving birth

Any lasting change to the shape of your body or breasts after becoming a mum is far more to do with muscles stretching during pregnancy, your weight going up and down before and after the birth, or from not wearing a supportive bra during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding.

Your breasts while breastfeeding

Your breasts may seem very full in the first days as your milk 'comes in,' but they'll soon know how much milk to make and reduce to a more comfortable size. They'll go up and down with every feed as they fill up with milk and are then emptied by your baby.

Your breasts after stopping breastfeeding 

When you stop breastfeeding, your breasts may seem a little droopy, but they'll perk up again over the following months as fatty tissue begins to replace the milk-producing tissue. Make sure to wear a good fitting bra to avoid any lasting effects. You can find out what to look for in our page 'Getting a new bra'.

Feeling self-conscious

In the early days, nearly every mum feels self-conscious about her body and breastfeeding in front of people.

feeling self conscious about breastfeeding

Growing in confidence

While you're recovering from the birth and getting used to feeding you might prefer breastfeed at home only. It's when you start finding your feet and your baby becomes more alert that you'll likely want to get out of the house and start seeing friends or going shopping. However, feeling self-conscious about your body or breastfeeding in front of people might stop you from venturing out. If this is how you feel, your local breastfeeding group might be the best place for you to try the first feed - everyone around you will be breastfeeding and you might pick up some great tips and meet some other mums like you. It might also help you feel better to hear from this dad who was surprised by how discreet breastfeeding really is!

If you're worried about feeding in front of family and friends make sure to speak to them about your decision to breastfeed. Reading our page 'Talking to friends and family about your decision to breastfeed' should also really help.

Days out and breastfeeding

With a little planning and preparation, it's easy to breastfeed away from home.

Breastfeeding when out and about

breastfeeding and days out with your family

Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, you'll be able to do it without anyone even noticing. If you wear something that lifts up from the waist, like a t-shirt or a jumper rather than a shirt or blouse with buttons, you can breastfeed without any breast showing at all. Find out more about breastfeeding-friendly clothes in our 'What to wear when breastfeeding' section.

Building confidence

The more you breastfeed when out and about, the more confident you'll get and the easier it'll be. Watch the video below to hear two mum's feelings about breastfeeding when out and about. One mum can't wait to take her newborn out for walks, another more experienced mum was nervous at first - but now doesn't think twice about it!

Planning to breastfeed or express your breast milk when out and about

Slings and carriers are a great help for many mums, allowing them to carry their babies around close to their bodies, keeping their hands free and making breastfeeding almost invisible. However, if you really don’t feel comfortable you can always express your milk and feed using a bottle or cup. Your can find out more about how to express in our 'How to guide' section. 

Your legal right to breastfeed

Remember, it is your legal right to breastfeed wherever and whenever. In Scotland breastfeeding is protected by the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005, meaning it is an offence to stop someone in a public place from feeding their child, if under two, with milk. This means that cafes, shops, or anywhere that tries to stop a mum from breastfeeding can be fined. However, you'll probably find that most people don't bat an eye at the sight of a breastfeeding mum and are actually very supportive.

Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005

This Act makes it an offence to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child feeding that child milk in a public place. This means that any person should be able to feed a child when required and in the most appropriate place for them, without the fear of interruption or criticism.

Why is the Act needed?

A key benefit of breastfeeding is that it can happen at any time and in any place, but for it to be effective, both mother and child should feel relaxed. Any embarrassing interruptions during breastfeeding can result in an upset mother and a crying hungry baby.

What happens if a baby is being breastfed and someone complains?

The Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 allows a mother to feed an infant wherever and whenever she wants. The person that complains needs to move, not the mother.

What is meant by ‘milk’?

Milk under the Act is taken to mean breast milk (either fed directly from the breast or by bottle/cup) or infant formula.

What is classed as a public place?

A public place is any place that the public has access to. Examples of this include:

  • Shopping centres and supermarkets
  • Restaurants, cafes and licensed premises
  • Leisure centres and recreational facilities
  • Libraries, museums, theatres, cinemas and galleries
  • Hotels and B&Bs • Public transport (e.g. bus, train, taxi)
  • Public parks and gardens
  • Hospitals and GP surgeries
  • Churches and places of worship

What about bottle feeding?

Some mothers choose not to breastfeed their infants or may be unable to. Others may have expressed milk in private and choose to bottle feed when in a public place. These mothers, or indeed any adult, should be given the same level of support and respect as breastfeeding mothers by offering to warm the milk if you have the capacity to do this.

Where can I get more information?

A full copy of the Act can be found on the Scottish Government website 

Looking after yourself

Many mums are so wrapped up in caring for their baby that they forget to find time to look after themselves too - the following pages can help.

Coping with breastfeeding at night

For many mums - breastfeeding or not - lack of sleep can be the hardest thing to deal with.

breastfeeding lying down
Young babies need to feed round the clock as their tummy is very small and they need frequent 'filling up' to help them grow. You're probably craving a decent full night's sleep, but try to see night feeds as a quiet time to bond with your baby.

FeedGood's top tips for calm and peaceful night feeding

  • Keep the room fairly dark – switching on the light wakes everyone up and isn't usually needed for feeding and comforting your baby.
  • Keep your baby close. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot by the side of your bed. This means you can hear early feeding cues and respond before they get upset. You can also reach for your baby easily without having to get up.
  • Keep your baby calm. Offer your breast as soon as they begin to wake, that way they won't get upset and become difficult to settle. Talk in a soft, quiet voice and avoid changing their nappy or clothing unless necessary. Skin-to-skin contact and gentle rocking can be very comforting for your baby if they can't seem to settle.

Getting support

If you've had a particularly difficult night, try to take time out to rest during the day. Visitors can wait – or better yet can help by taking over housework or looking after other children while you and your baby catch up on sleep. For more tips on how to cope with night feeds, take a look at UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative's leaflet "Caring for your baby at night: a guide for parents" linked to at the bottom of this page.

Breastfeeding, diet & alcohol

Making breast milk burns around 500 calories per day, so make sure you eat regularly and that your diet is as healthy as possible.

good diet for breastfeeding mums

What can you eat and drink?

You can pretty much eat anything you want as a breastfeeding mum - but there are a few of things to keep tabs on:

  • Caffeine: avoid large amounts as this may make your baby irritable.
  • Oily fish: eating fish is good for your health, but as fish may contain mercury it's recommended you don't eat more than two portions of oily fish a week if you are breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin D: you should take 10 mcg of vitamin D per day – speak to your midwife or health visitor about getting these free through Healthy Start.
  • Water: remember to drink lots of water as breastfeeding can make you feel thirsty, but don't drink more than you need either.

Alcohol

If you're breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option for your baby's wellbeing and safety. Babies need you to be there for them and ready to feed around the clock, and drinking can make this much more difficult. We also know that alcohol can reduce how much milk you make. If you are having a night out or celebration, avoid drinking just before breastfeeding or express milk beforehand to give to your baby later.
 
You can find more information on expressing by following the first link below.