How long should I breastfeed my baby?

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of baby’s life and should continue up to his/her first birthday (and beyond for as long as you and your baby would like), as new foods are introduced.

How does breastfeeding benefit me?

Breastfeeding is good for you because:

  • Breastfeeding triggers the release of a hormone (oxytocin) which helps the womb contract, decreases the amount of bleeding following birth and return to its normal size more quickly
  • Breastfeeding makes it easier to lose weight
  • Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer

How soon should I start breastfeeding after birth?

Most healthy newborns are ready to breastfeed within the first hour after birth. “Skin-to-skin” contact – holding your baby against your bare skin right after birth encourages this. Rooming in with your baby nearby in the same room allows you to breastfeed easily while you are in the hospital.

How do I get my baby to latch on?

“Skin-to-skin” encourages latch on. Cup your breast in your hand and stroke your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. Your baby will open his/her mouth – bring your baby close to your breast and aim your nipple towards the roof of your baby’s mouth.

How can I tell if my baby is hungry?

Hungry babies usually look alert, bend their arms, close their fists, and bring their fingers or fists to their mouths. Offer your baby your breast when he/she starts bringing fingers to his/her mouth. Crying is a late sign of hunger and an unhappy baby will be more difficult to latch. When full, babies relax their arms and legs and close their eyes.

How often should I breastfeed my baby?

During the 1st weeks of life, most babies feed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours, or at least every 2-3 hours (time it from the start of one feed to the start of the next feed). Many newborns breastfeed for 10-15 minutes on each breast, but can sometimes nurse for longer periods, feed more frequently, or feed from one breast per feed. When your baby releases one breast, offer the other. If your baby is not interested, start on this other breast for the next feed.

I am having trouble breastfeeding – what should I do?

Breastfeeding takes time for you and your baby to learn; do not be discouraged as it may take up to 2 weeks for you and baby to get used to it. Although most women are able to breastfeed, some women may not be able to due to various reasons. There is help available – lactation consultants, nurses and doctors can teach and give you advice along the way.

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What foods should I eat while breastfeeding?

You will need 450-500 extra calories to make breast milk for your baby (if your weight is normal, you need about 2500 calories/day). Do continue to take your prenatal multivitamins and calcium tablets while you are breastfeeding, and keep well hydrated. Eat fish and seafood 2-3 times a week but avoid fish with high mercury levels e.g. swordfish, mackerel, tilefish, albacore tuna

Is caffeine okay while breastfeeding?

Newborns and preterm infants are more sensitive to caffeine; do avoid or consume less caffeine in the first few days after childbirth or if your baby is premature. Otherwise, drinking coffee in moderate amounts is unlikely going to affect your baby.

Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

If you would like an occasional alcoholic drink, wait for at least 2 hours after a single drink to breastfeed. There is no need to express and discard your milk as the alcohol will not be found in your breast milk after it leaves your bloodstream. Having more than 2 drinks a day on a regular basis may harm and cause drowsiness/weakness to your baby.

Can I smoke while breastfeeding?

Secondhand smoke can harm infants and children by increasing risk of allergies, asthma and SIDS. Smoking can also decrease your milk supply and make it harder for your baby to gain weight. If you need to smoke, avoid doing it around the baby.

How do I know if a medication is safe to take while breastfeeding?

Although some medications can be passed to your baby through breast milk, levels are usually much lower compared to that in your bloodstream. You may look up further information on LactMed, a scientific database at If you are prescribed medications, do let the doctor know that you are breastfeeding.

What birth control methods can I use while breastfeeding?

Many methods can be used while breastfeeding, including non-hormonal methods (copper intrauterine device (IUCD), condoms) and while the combined oral contraceptive pills are not advisable for women while breast-feeding, as they can affect breast milk supply, some hormonal methods like the Implanon or Mirena intra-uterine device are suitable for breast-feeding mothers. Do discuss with your doctor regarding these