Breastfeeding or boobie feeding is the traditional, natural and healthiest way for your baby to feed. Breast milk has big benefits and protection for your baby. It is good for you too, but it can be harder for some and take a bit longer to get going and isn’t always easy.

The first six weeks after baby is born could be the hardest and is a time of learning for both you and baby because baby is growing so fast and doesn’t know the difference between day and night. It's also a time when you are getting used to your new baby.

It is normal for baby to be at the breast often, like baby feeding hourly, two hourly or three hourly, especially in the first few weeks. It is difficult to put babies who are being breastfed into a regular routine like babies who are having the bottle. This is because breast milk is natural and is readily available and the baby absorbs the milk more easily.

To give baby the best start it is recommended that you continue with breastfeeding until baby is at least 12 months of age.

Benefits and protection for baby

Breast milk

  • Gives baby the healthiest start in life
  • Has all the food and water baby needs for the first 6 months and can be given with solids after that
  • Is easy to digest
  • Changes to meet baby’s needs as baby grows
  • Helps protect baby against diabetes and becoming overweight in the future
  • Helps protect baby from ‘glue ear’ and ear infections and also decreases the chances of becoming very sick with chest infections or tummy bugs

Benefits and protections for mum


Advertising can be misleading and can falsely indicate that breast and bottle feeding are equal but they are not. Breastfeeding is the natural food for your baby. It also means less waste from bottles.

  • Strengthens the mother and baby bond
  • Is instant and always with you
  • Doesn’t cost anything
  • Can help get your body back into shape faster because it supports your metabolism and uses up some of the fat stored during pregnancy
  • Helps protect you against some of the more aggressive types of cancer in later life

Handy tips

Preparing to breastfeed

Breastfeeding in the first week

  • It is normal to feed your baby as often and for as long as they want
  • The number of feeds changes as time goes on and baby's tummy grows
  • In the first few days after birth you can expect baby to feed frequently to 'bring the milk in'
  • In the early days most babies will feed between 8 and 10 times every 24 hours
  • Tender nipples are common in the first week but ask the Birra Li midwife, Birra Li Aboriginal health worker/practitioner or Birra Li lactation consultant to check that your baby is latching as deeply as they could if your nipples have grazes on them
  • More information is available at Australian Breastfeeding Association - early days or the Raising Children Network section on breastfeeding, which has videos of how to hold your baby close so that they can take a big mouthful and feed well
  • To find out about sore nipples, go to Australian Breastfeeding Association - sore/cracked nipples

Skin to skin

  • This is where you hold baby with their bare skin against your chest in an upright position between your breasts
  • Holding your baby skin to skin helps you to bond closely with your baby
  • After your baby is first born they begin to show signs they are ready to feed such as licking, sucking, or bringing their hands to their mouth
  • If left skin to skin babies can practice finding their way to the breast and latching well
  • This helps to avoid nipple pain

Is my milk in?

  • Your milk is coming in when your breasts may feel heavy, warmer or uncomfortable about 2–6 days after your baby is born.
  • Your breast milk is unique to you. It starts changing from a thick or sticky colostrum to a usually clear thinnerlater milk.
  • Breast milk can range in colour from clear to a deep yellow or even orange, depending on the time of the day it is expressed or even what foods you eat. However, it is all good for baby. 
  • More information about breast engorgement is available at Australian Breastfeeding Association - engorgement

Is my baby getting enough milk?

  • Baby is getting enough milk if they are awake and their nappy is wet every time you give them a feed. 
  • In the early days if baby's nappy is dirty at least once a day. Later on baby might go for a few days without doing a poo. This is fine if they are only having breast milk.
  • Baby is settled and sleeps for at least some of the time through the day and does not want to feed constantly. It is normal to have times when they want to feed more frequently as well as times they will sleep longer.
  • More information is available at Australian Breastfeeding Association - Is my baby getting enough milk?
  • To find out more about increasing your supply of breast milk, go to Australian Breastfeeding Association - increasing your supply

Is my milk good enough?

  • Breast milk has everything a baby needs to grow and be healthy 

Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding and smoking

  • It is best for both you and your baby not to smoke
  • You will reduce the risk of SIDS if you breastfeed in a smoke free environment
  • Your baby is at a higher risk of SIDS if you smoke but breastfeeding can help reduce that risk
  • No one should smoke near your baby, in the house or the car
  • People who smoke should wear an over-shirt while they are smoking and take it off when they are near baby
  • People who smoke should wash their hands after they have a smoke before they hold baby 
  • Sids and Kids

Breastfeeding and drinking alcohol

Breastfeeding and taking drugs

  • Most drugs and medications that you take will go into your breast milk at different levels
  • Sometimes it is necessary to take medications when you are breastfeeding to keep you healthy
  • It is important to tell the doctor or pharmicist that you are breastfeeding as they can give you the best medicine that will be safe for you and your baby
  • Mother safe is a phone service that you can call to find out if it is safe to take something while you are breastfeeding- call 1800 647 848 Mon-Fri- 9am-5pm

Problems with breastfeeding

Expressing my breast milk

Need help?

Mums who are having problems with breastfeeding and need someone to talk to for advice, can ring Birra Li during office hours, Monday - Friday between 8am and 4:30 pm on 4016 4900 and have a yarn about how you are going with your breastfeeding.

Please click on the graph below for more information and factsheets on breastfeeding