Breastfeeding advice – your top 10 breastfeeding questions

6 min read


You know your body is made for breastfeeding, but it would be nice if someone just shared all the essentials, like how long a feed should take, or when to ask for help, so it wasn’t as overwhelming. We've put together some breastfeeding advice to answer your top 10 breastfeeding questions, so you can feel more confident as you start your breastfeeding journey.

1. How do I know when to feed my baby?

It’s best to feed your baby whenever they show signs of hunger. This gives your baby a wonderful feeling of comfort, allows for better weight gain, and ensures your supply is in tune with their needs. You’ll need to be on the lookout for signs of hunger such as sucking on fists, moving their head from side to side and sticking their tongue out. Newborns need to nurse at least 8-12 times per day, which works out to roughly one feed every three hours (timed from the start of one session to the start of the next).

2. How long does breastfeeding take?

Some babies like to take their time, while others are speedy little things. Generally, a breastfeed can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour from the beginning to the end. The length of breastfeeding will also depend on your baby’s size, age and how often they feed.

3. How long should I spend on each breast?

How long you spend on each breast will depend on how much milk you store in your breasts. It’s best to empty one breast before offering the next, and if you only offer one breast in a feed, be sure to offer the other at the beginning of the next. It could also be a good idea to leave a marker of some kind on the breast you last fed from to remind yourself, for example simply putting a hair band on the relevant side wrist

4. I feel some pain. What should I do?

A little pain or tenderness at the beginning of a feed—especially when you’re starting with breastfeeding—is normal, however any ongoing pain should be addressed immediately. If you experience regular ongoing pain, there’s no need to feel like you have to bear it. Pain while breastfeeding can normally be resolved with some guidance on latch and feeding technique from your healthcare professional. You might also like to try using a nipple protector to shield your nipples in between feeds.

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You may need

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Philips Avent Nipple Protector


Helping you to breastfeed for longer

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Helping you to breastfeed for longer

Philips Avent nipple protector SCF156/00 made of ultra-fine, soft, odourless, taste-free silicone that protects sore or cracked nipples during breastfeeding. See all benefits

5. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Breastfeeding does have an element of mystery. There’s no sure way to know how much milk your baby is drinking but there are milestones you can use to check they’re getting enough:


  • Your baby begins to gain weight once your milk has come in
  • By around day 10-14, your little one has regained their birth weight
  • They continue to steadily gain weight as expected


The takeaway? The best sign will be those chubby cheeks in front of you. A happy, alert and growing baby is the best sign that you are producing enough milk.


6. I’m taking medication. Can I still breastfeed?

A lot of medications can be taken while you’re breastfeeding, but it’s always good to check with your pharmacist.  


  • What about alcohol?

It’s best not to drink alcohol while you’re breastfeeding. Your healthcare professional can also give you more specific guidance on this.


  • And how about caffeine?

One or two caffeinated drinks usually won’t bother your baby. This might be a coffee, tea or a carbonated drink. That said, too much caffeine might make your baby irritable or keep them up.  And good news for chocolate lovers: chocolate in moderation is generally okay.


7. Does my baby need any other drinks?

Breast milk is all your baby needs for the first 6 months or so of life.

8. Can I combine breastfeeding with other ways of feeding?

It normally takes at least three to six weeks of exclusive breastfeeding to establish a good milk supply and for your baby to become a good feeder. This means that introducing a bottle in the early weeks might bring breastfeeding to an early end. Once you’ve established breastfeeding, most babies have no problem alternating between breast and bottle if this is what you prefer. It’s best to use a bottle that’s designed especially for combination feeding, and your healthcare professional can give you extra guidance on how best to introduce a bottle. 

9. I’m going back to work soon. Can I still breastfeed?

Yes, at work you can still breastfeed! Absolutely. You can continue to give your baby all the benefits of breast milk when you can’t be there by expressing milk beforehand. You’ll need to express milk at least as many times as you normally feed to maintain your milk supply. Also, try to start expressing at least a few weeks before you go back to work. Like this you’ll build up a supply of expressed milk. When it comes to choosing a pump, you’ll find that a double electric breast pump will give you the most efficiency, whereas a manual pump is the most portable option for mums on the go. Once you’ve expressed, be sure to refrigerate or freeze your milk straight away in storage containers.


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10. When can I begin giving my baby solid foods?

It’s best to wait until your baby is 6 months old before introducing any solid foods and this doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. You can keep on breastfeeding for as long as you like. When you’re ready, ask your healthcare professional for guidance on what kind of foods to introduce and how.

A final note on asking for help


No matter how small your question or concern, never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional.  These are some signs that your baby might need help from a healthcare professional:

  • Your baby isn’t asking to be fed regularly – at least 8-10 times in 24 hours
  • Your baby doesn’t have the expected number of wet and soiled nappies
  • Latch on is painful or you have sore nipples
  • Your breasts don’t feel full with milk by the third or fourth day of delivery
  • Your baby is unsettled and seems unsatisfied after most feeds
  • Your baby isn’t gaining weight or is losing weight

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