Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned by you and your baby. Some women experience no problems at all; others need advice and support to get started and continue feeding. Having the practical and emotional support of your partner, whānau and friends is important.

Getting started

For an overview of breastfeeding to get you started, take a look at this Ministry of Health information booklet [PDF, 741 KB], which is also available in Māori [PDF, 1.4 MB]Chinese [PDF, 1.2 MB]Korean [PDF, 1.2 MB]Samoan [PDF, 727 KB] and Tongan [PDF, 1.1 MB].

Where to go for help

Your LMC

If you have any concerns or problems, contact your LMC. They should be able to help you with most breastfeeding issues. If you have a more complex concern, they can refer you to a Community Lactation Consultant.

Your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse

If your baby is four weeks and older, you will be under the care of a Tamariki Ora/Well Child Nurse. They can help you with breastfeeding and refer you to other places for help.

Community organisations

Breastfeeding app

24/7 free helplines

  • Healthline - 0800 611 116
  • Plunket - 0800 933 922

Frequently asked questions

  • How long should I breastfeed for?

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    The Ministry of Health recommends all babies are fed only on breastmilk for the first six months of life. This means no water, infant formula or fruit juices. After six months you can slowly start your baby on solid foods and other fluids, while you keep breastfeeding.

  • What are the benefits for me?

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    • The skin-to-skin contact helps you to bond with your baby.
    • Breastfeeding helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size.
    • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
    • Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life.
    • Breastfeeding may help you to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.

    If you are worried about your ability to breastfeed, please discuss your concerns with your LMC who may refer you to a lactation consultant.

  • How often will my baby breastfeed?

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    Most term babies will wake for feeds between one and three hours in the early days.

  • How will I know when to feed my baby?

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    Common infant hunger cues include:

    Early signs

     

    Smacking or licking lips

    Opening and closing mouth

    Sucking on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, clothing,

    Cooing, wriggling moving arms and legs

     

    Active signs

     

    Mouthing & licking

    Crying now and then

    Fidgeting or squirming

    Fussing or breathing fast, arching back

     

    Late signs

     

    Moving head frantically from side to side

    Full cry / scream, tense body, turns red, unable to be consoled

     

     

  • What's special about breast milk for my baby?

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    • It is the only food that has exactly the right nutrition for your growing baby.
    • It contains antibodies that help protect your baby from ear infections, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, meningitis, urine infections, asthma and eczema.
    • It is free, always fresh, exactly the right temperature and immediately available.
    • It helps reduce the risk of obesity and may reduce the risk of diabetes in baby's later life.
    • It decreases the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI, also known as cot death).