Common breastfeeding questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions asked by the National Health Service in the UK by breastfeeding mums.


How often will my baby feed?

All babies are different, and it may depend on the type of birth you've had. Your baby should feed within the first hour after birth to get off to a good start. Babies then sometimes have a sleep and will start to give you signs that they're ready for the next feed. These signs include:

  • starting to move about as they wake up
  • moving their head around
  • finding something to suck, usually their fingers

If your baby doesn’t have a feed in the first hour, try skin-to-skin again, putting them to your breast as soon as possible so that they're not left without a feed in the first six hours.

Why is baby-led feeding so important?

129301968(1).jpgA newborn baby’s stomach is only the size of a walnut, therefore they will need to feed ‘little and often’. This is why baby-led feeding, or ‘on-demand feeding’ is so important. Your baby can have a good feed and be hungry again quite quickly. Babies go through patterns of feeding more and less as they grow. Letting them feed when they need to will ensure that they're content and getting the milk they need, when they need it.

How long should each feed last?

Every baby is different. Some babies want frequent short feeds, and others prefer feeding for longer. Let your baby finish the first breast, then offer the second. If your baby feeds all the time and you're worried, contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline.

Can I still breastfeed if I have more than one baby?

Twins, triplets and other multiples can be breastfed. Because multiple babies are more likely to be born prematurely and have a low birth weight, breast milk is especially important for their wellbeing. When you start breastfeeding you may find it easier to feed each of your babies separately until feeding is well established and you feel confident about handling them at the same time. This may take a few weeks.

It can be really helpful to talk to other mothers who have breastfed twins, either at an antenatal session or meeting at a twins group in your area. Triplets can be breastfed either two together and then one after, or all three rotated at each feed.

Can I breastfeed after a caesarean?

Yes, you can. Make sure you get a skin-to-skin cuddle with your baby as soon as you're able to. Your midwife may help you have a skin-to-skin cuddle in theatre, or in the recovery room. If you keep your baby close to you and maintain lots of skin-to-skin contact, you’ll be able to put them to the breast often, and this will stimulate your milk supply.

Breastfeeding counsellor Ruthie suggests that “after a caesarean you might find that the ‘rugby hold’ [baby’s body is around to the side of your body supported by the arm on the same side] is preferable to having the baby lying on your stomach”. Ask your midwife for pain relief before you're likely to feed your baby so that you can feed comfortably.

If you have a planned caesarean, talk to your midwife about expressing some breast milk before you have the baby. This can be available for use afterwards if necessary, either by cup or by syringe.

How long should I breastfeed for?

Exclusive breastfeeding (with no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first six months of a baby's life. After this, breastfeed alongside other foods for as long as you and your baby wish. This might be into their second year or beyond.

Every day you breastfeed makes a difference to you and your baby. There’s no need to decide at the beginning how long you'll breastfeed for. Many mothers continue to breastfeed when they return to work or college.

How do I know if my baby's getting enough milk?

All mums want to know that their baby is feeding well. When you first start breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough milk. There are clear signs that you can look out for. 

Signs that your baby is feeding well:

  • Your baby has a large mouthful of breast.
  • Your baby's chin is touching your breast.
  • It doesn't hurt you to feed (although the first few sucks may feel strong).
  • If you can see the dark skin around your nipple, you should see more dark skin above your baby's top lip than below their bottom lip.
  • Your baby's cheeks stay rounded during sucking.
  • Your baby takes rhythmic, long sucks and swallows. It's normal for them to pause sometimes.
  • Your baby finishes the feed and comes off the breast on their own.

Signs that your baby is getting enough milk:

  • Your baby will appear content and satisfied after most feeds.
  • They should be gaining weight after the first two weeks.
  • Your breasts and nipples should not be sore.
  • In the first 48 hours, your baby is likely to have only two or three wet nappies.
  • From day five onwards, wet nappies should start to become more frequent, with at least six wet nappies every 24 hours.
  • They should appear healthy and alert when they're awake.  

Breastfeeding help and support

If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding, a lot of help and support is available.

  • You can ask a friend or family member who has breastfed.
  • Ask your GP, midwife or health visitor.
  • You can the National Breastfeeding Helpline.
  • You can look at reliable web based resources.
  • You can join a local support drop in, Children’s Centre or group.