First Light Healthcare

World Breastfeeding Week

August 1– 7, 2022

World Breastfeeding Week focuses on strengthening, protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding for all women across all levels of society and in all countries. The aim of World Breastfeeding week is to target governments, health systems, workplaces and communities to help inform, educate and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for all families.

In Australia, almost three quarters (73.8%) were still receiving breast milk and one in three babies (35.4%) were exclusively breastfed. ***

Optimal breastfeeding is vital to the good health and wellbeing of both women and children. Breastfeeding is also the most beneficial way to feed your baby, with your baby’s growth and development dependent on the food that he or she gets. Breastfeeding is also obviously less expensive than formula milk.

Breastfeeding provides all your baby’s essential needs for growth, development as well as protection from illness and disease. This is because breastmilk contains many nutritional factors that help protect a baby from illnesses such as gastroenteritis as well as other infections. ****

Breastfeeding is also shown to lower the risk of your child being overweight, including developing obesity and diabetes in adulthood. Babies who are breastfed have higher IQ scores and better jaw development. Breastmilk is more easily digested than other milks and nappies smell less offensive. ****  

For the mother, early breastfeeding minimises bleeding after birth and helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnant state. Breastfeeding also aids a faster return to pre-pregnancy body weight as kilojoules are used to make the milk. Full breastfeeding also naturally delays the return of fertility and may reduce the risk of pre-menopausal breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

It is recommended that you exclusively breastfeed your baby, with no other milks, food or drinks, until about six months. At about six months it is further recommended that you begin to offer solid foods while continuing to breastfeed until 12 months or longer. Breastfeeding can continue to provide health benefits in your baby’s second year of life and beyond. The longer you breastfeed the greater the benefit.

Both the mother and baby learn the skill of breastfeeding while adjusting the technique and settling into the new relationship. It can take time, and some patience and practice to breastfeed with ease, however, you don’t need to do anything to prepare your breasts as the milk production and nipple suppleness will develop naturally during pregnancy – nature is amazing! If you have a typically healthy diet, there is also no need for special diets or supplements to breastfeed.

Both the World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend:

  • Early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth where possible.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
  • Continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond, with the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months. *

Breastfeeding – Your Questions Answered**

Why is breastfeeding important?

Breastmilk is the best food for babies, designed by nature for human infants:

  • It is a complete food containing all your baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months of life.
  • For the baby it satisfies both hunger and thirst with extra water is not needed.
  • It increases a baby’s resistance to infection and disease.

Breastfeeding is important for mothers too:

  • It’s convenient, costs nothing and is always available as your baby needs it.
  • Mother’s milk is always fresh, clean and safe.
  • It quickly soothes a fussy, unhappy baby.
  • It helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size after childbirth.
  • It gives you a chance to sit down and relax during the day.
  • Mothers who don’t breastfeed have increased risks of cancer of the breast and ovaries.
  • Breastfeeding helps to create a close and loving bond between the mother and baby and can be a deeply satisfying experience for both.

How soon after birth can I start to breastfeed?

During pregnancy a woman’s breasts grow and change to prepare for the baby’s birth and breastfeeding. Most babies have a strong need to suckle from when they are first born, so if you are both feeling well you can start straight away. After birth a hormone is naturally released signalling your breasts to commence producing rich, thick, concentrated first milk, called ‘colostrum’. A highly nutritious milk, colostrum provides an additional immunological boost for your baby’s start to life. Once your baby starts suckling another hormone releases your milk into your milk ducts.

How do I put my baby to the breast?

Your baby is naturally hard-wired to find his or her way to your breast. If you hold your baby skin-to-skin on your chest and wait a short while, you are likely to find that he or she attaches to feed all by him or herself.

If you prefer to help your baby to attach, hold your baby close to you, chest to chest with your baby’s chin to your breast with your nipple opposite the baby’s mouth. Gently touch baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage your baby’s mouth to open wide. Make sure that your nipple and as much as possible of your areola (the darker area around your nipple) is in your baby’s mouth.

When your baby is positioned correctly for breastfeeding, it should not hurt you. Initial tenderness is normal. If you continue to feel any nipple pain, seek help by calling a breastfeeding counsellor or seeing a lactation consultant.

How often should I breastfeed?

Your breasts make milk in direct to response to your baby’s feeding. The more milk the baby takes, the more milk the mother will make.

You are more likely to establish a good supply of milk if you:

  • Breastfeed frequently, whenever your baby fusses or seems hungry.
  • Let baby finish the first breast. You will know this because the baby will stop sucking and swallowing and will let go of the breast. Then offer the second breast.
  • Breastfeed your baby at night. This also helps prevent your breasts becoming too full and uncomfortable overnight.
  • Many young babies feed between 8-12 times over a 24-hour period.
  • Avoid giving bottles unless medically necessary, as these will reduce your baby’s needs to suck at the breast and so reduce your supply.

How can I help my baby to get the milk?

Your milk will flow more easily if you are relaxed and comfortable at feed times. This is not always easy in the early days when everything is new, and you and your baby are still getting to know each other.

The following tips may help:

  • Cuddle your baby close to you, skin-to-skin, before offering the breast
  • If your baby is too sleepy to feed and you are taking medications, ask your doctor if these medications could be affecting feeding your baby
  • Talk to your doctor if pain from stitches is making you tense
  • If you are in hospital, draw the curtains if you feel you would like privacy
  • Breathing slowly and deeply may help you relax
  • Gently massaging your breasts and rolling your nipples between your thumb and forefinger before putting baby to the breast may help to start your milk flowing.

Remember, a baby’s tummy is tiny so your baby will need to breastfeed small amounts and often.

How do I know my baby is getting enough breastmilk?

You know your baby is getting enough breastmilk if he or she:

  • Is breastfeeding well and frequently
  • Has plenty of pale, wet nappies (at least 5 disposable or 6 cloth nappies in a 24-hour period)
  • Has 3 or more soft bowel motions a day (babies older than around 6 weeks may have less than this)
  • Is gaining weight and has some periods in which he or she seems alert, active and happy.

How can I increase my milk supply?

If you feel your supply is low:

  • Breastfeed your baby more often
  • Take things as easy as you can for a few days
  • Relax and hold your baby skin-to-skin to encourage him to feed more often.

The more milk your baby takes from your breasts, the more milk you will make. It will take a week or longer of more frequent feeds to see a real increase in milk supply.

If I am breastfeeding, do I have to eat or drink special foods?

There are no special foods that will increase breastmilk supply. A sensible balanced diet is the key. The most recent research suggests that excluding allergenic foods from a mother’s diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding does not help prevent babies from developing allergies.

What about night feeds?

New babies wake at night from hunger and need to be breastfed. This also helps your milk supply. Some babies sleep through the night quite early while others take much longer to do so. Breastfeeding can be a quick and easy way to soothe and settle your baby.

Can I breastfeed and return to work?

Thankfully, more women find that they are now able to combine breastfeeding and participating in the paid work force. Talk to your employer in advance to returning to work and discuss a strategy that works for you, your employer and your baby.

How do I express milk?

Expressing breastmilk is easy to learn and gives you a chance to store it for future feeds. This is handy if you are working or to go out without your baby. The best way to learn is to practice so you can find what works for you. You may choose to do this manually or use a hand breast pumps or an electric breast pump. Whatever way you express breastmilk, you should always wash your hands before you start expressing the milk and ensure you have a sterile container to collect the milk. If you need help with expressing milk, you should discuss this with your doctor, lactation consultant or child and family health nurse.

How do I stop breastfeeding?

The easiest strategy is to stop breastfeeding is to reduce sessions slowly over a period of several weeks. Start with the session that seems the least important to the baby or the one in which the baby eats the least. Give the baby a few days to adjust before stopping the next feeding session.

Common concerns about breastfeeding

The most common concerns that mothers have when breastfeeding include overly full breasts, tender or cracked nipples and in some cases, breast infections (mastitis).  With full breasts (especially in the early days after birth), cold compresses can relieve some of the swelling and tenderness.

Tender nipples can also occur, especially during the first weeks. It is normal however for your nipples to feel sensitive in these early weeks as your breasts and nipples get used to breastfeeding. If your nipples continue to feel tender or it becomes worse, it often means your baby is breastfeeding in the wrong position or is not attached properly.

Dampness can also make your nipples chapped and tender. You can address this by gently drying your nipples gently between feeds by exposing them to the air. Waterproof pads can be helpful to keeping your clothes dry but they should not be worn if your nipples are sore as they keep your breasts moist. Alternatively, loose cotton clothing can assist to air and dry your nipples.

Cracked nipples is typically felt as a sharp pain in your nipple that is felt throughout breastfeeding. To avoid cracked nipples, take care to position and attach your baby in the ideal position. You can feed your baby on the unaffected side for a few days if you express the milk on the affected breast to keep up your milk supply. If the pain continues, seek assistance from your midwife, lactation consultant, or doctor as cracked nipples can lead to breast infections.

Breast infections (Mastitis) is identified if your breast is painful, hard and red, and you feel unwell and feverish. Common causes of mastitis are nipple damage (grazes, cracks) caused by poor attachment. It is important if you think you have an infection that you see your doctor as soon as possible.


  • ABA Breastfeeding Helpline. Telephone counselling is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 686 268, (1800 mum 2 mum) or visit the ABA website at:
  • Breastfeeding Clinics and lactation consultants are available at many maternity units and child and family health services. There are also private lactation consultants who can be found at:
  • Child and Family Health Centres – for centre locations throughout NSW search under ‘Community Health Centre’ or ‘Early Childhood Health Centre’
  • Karitane Careline 1300 227 464 (1300 CARING) or online at:
  • Telephone interpreters are available free of charge to anyone who wants to use health services in NSW. You can ring the Translating and Interpreter Services (TIS) on 131 450.