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Te ngote Ū | Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned by you and your baby. Some women have 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 the Ministry of Heath breastfeeding information().

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

Surgery while breastfeeding

Sometimes 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 worried about the safety of breastfeeding afterwards. Take a look at this website for information related to breastfeeding and anaesthesia. ()

Where to go for help

Frequently asked questions

How long should I breastfeed for?

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?
  • 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?

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?

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?
  • 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).