Getting feeding off to a good start

Getting feeding off to a good start

After birth, your baby should start to do the following things:


  • Make a noise or a cry. It is normal for your baby to have a blue or purple tinge to their skin when they are born. Once they have taken a few breaths you will see this change.
  • Next your baby will begin to look more relaxed and start to take in its new surroundings, this is a relaxation stage
  • Now they start to become more alert, they may start to look for your voice and respond
  • Small movements now start to happen; they will begin to move their head or arms.
  • This is closely followed by leg movements, as they start to bend their knees and may now start to move towards the breast with small kicking movements, this can take some time as they start to work their way towards the breast.
  • When your baby reaches the breast, sometimes they can appear sleepy and rest here. It’s good to let your baby rest for a while as soon they will start to nuzzle around the area which stimulates hormones that help the milk to start flowing.
  • Once your baby starts nuzzling and licking around the breast, you will see your baby’s head bobbing up and down, their hands and fingers massaging the breast to help release the colostrum
  • There is no need for you to rush this phase, feeding is a new experience for your baby and you, you are both learning how it all works! Your baby is having lots of new experiences and learning how to feed, how wide their mouth needs to be, what position in easiest for them, how to latch on and how to suckle.
  • You can really help by encouraging baby to do this by themselves.
  • Once your baby is attached, known in this way as self-attachment, they will begin to feed.
  • When your baby is finished feeding, they will start to slow down and eventually stop by themselves.
Allowing time

For most babies they will follow a pattern very similar to this. It really helps by not interrupting this period. Your baby is using their instincts, these instincts include a sense of touch, smell, sight and sound. If we have too many interruptions this can add delays to the process.

For example: your baby will start to recognise smells on you. We all have different smells, if too many people are holding baby close just after birth, this may cause some confusion for your baby who is relying on its senses.

As you have read in the previous section, some drugs can affect this, therefore its important to have skin to skin and look to hand express some colostrum for your baby till your baby shows signs of wanting to feed for itself. Your care providers can talk to you more about this too.

You can read more about feeding breastfeeding your baby here on the NHS website or on the UNICEF website

You can read more about infant feeding here on the NHS website.

We are now going to continue learning about your body in labour.