How to Breastfeed

Find your care

If you are a new patient seeking prenatal care, please call 310-794-7274. If you are an established patient and need to reach labor and delivery, call 310-825-9111 for Westwood or 424-259-9250 for Santa Monica.

Are you ready to Breastfeed?

  • One of the first signs of pregnancy you may notice is tender breasts. Your breasts may grow as they get ready to produce milk. The areola (darker colored skin around your nipple) may get larger. Talk with your doctor or midwife if you do not see these breast changes.
  • By 16 weeks gestation, the breast is able to secrete its first milk, colostrum.
  • Breast size does not determine milk production, but breastfeeding does! Women with small breasts can make just as much milk as women with large breasts.
  • If you have flat or inverted nipples, you can still breastfeed. Consult with a lactation specialist during your pregnancy for assistance.

Give Breastfeeding a Try!

Woman breastfeeding her child
  • Each baby is different. If you had difficulty breastfeeding in the past, try again.
  • Even if your mom or sister had trouble, you can still do it! Just give it a try.

Every baby was born to be breastfed!

How to Breastfeed

Babies are born to breastfeed. Once you have found a comfortable position, you are ready to breastfeed, too! If you are comfortable, than your baby feels more at ease and will be better able to attach properly.


  • Support your breast using a “c” hold (your thumb on top of your breast and the rest of your fingers below the breast). Support the base of your baby’s head, upper back, and shoulders with your other hand.
  • Hold your baby close to you and in alignment with your body while your baby’s nose is in front of your nipple.
  • Stroke your baby’s upper lip with your nipple.
  • When your baby’s mouth opens wide (like a yawn) gently bring your baby in towards you, not your breast to the baby.

Signs of good attachment:

  • Baby’s mouth is around your entire nipple and as much of the areola (the darker skin around your nipple) as possible.
  • Baby’s nose and chin are touching your breast
  • Baby’s lips are flattened outward around your breast.
  • Baby’s suckling is smooth and rhythmic with occasional pauses
  • You feel pulling and tugging, not pinching or sharp pain with each of baby’s sucks

If the baby is not attached well, begin again. It is normal for a baby to need several tries before it achieves a good, deep attachment. Break the suction in baby’s mouth by gently inserting a clean finger in the corner of the baby’s mouth. Bring the baby slightly away and try again, waiting for that wide, open gape as your sign that the baby is ready to latch.

Breastfeeding Positions:

  • Football/Clutch – Hold your baby along your side and tuck your baby under your arm like a football or clutch purse. Support your baby’s head at the base of the neck with your thumb and forefinger, supporting baby’s shoulders with the palm of your hand. Your baby’s legs and feet will be touching the back of the chair.
  • Cross-Cradle – Hold your baby along the arm opposite from the breast you are using, keeping baby’s hips tucked into your ribs with your elbow. Support the base of the neck with your thumb and forefinger, guiding the baby’s shoulders with the palm of your hand. Use the other hand to support the breast in a “c” hold.
  • Cradle – Rest baby’s head in the crook of your arm on the same side as the breast you will be using, supporting baby’s hips with your hand. Keep baby’s body turned toward you. Support your breast with the opposite hand. This position is best for older babies.
  • Side-lying – To nurse while lying down, lie on your side with you baby facing toward you. Place your lower arm under your head, and support your baby with your upper arm. This is a good position for night-time feedings. Place a pillow between your legs or behind your back for extra support.

Good position and latch are important for successful breastfeeding. We highly encourage enrolling in a breastfeeding class or making an appointment with a lactation consultant to review the basics of these breastfeeding fundamentals.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, continue breastfeeding while introducing solid foods as complementary foods. Continue breastfeeding until one year of life or as long as mother and child mutually agree.

Join our Mother/Baby Support Group!

Wednesdays 1:30-2:30 pm
200 Medical Plaza, Room 206

Santa Monica
Thursdays 12-1:00 pm
Online new parents' support group every Thursday at noon.