Te ngote Ū | Breastfeeding

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 breastfeeding 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].

Got questions? Check out the full range of Unicef breastfeeding information sheets and videos.()

Surgery while breastfeeding

It is quite common that people will need surgery at some point while they are breastfeeding.  As well as the usual worries about coming for an operation or procedure, parents often feel concerned about the safety of continuing to breastfeed afterwards.  Take a look at this website for information related to breastfeeding and anaesthesia.()

Scroll down for more resources.

Frequently asked questions

  • How long should I breastfeed for? Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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? Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.
    • 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? Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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? Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.

    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? Page 1 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.
    • 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).

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

La Leche League 

Parents Centres New Zealand


Breastfeeding app

Breastfed NZ

24/7 free helplines

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Plunket - 0800 933 922