Breastfeeding helps keep you and your baby healthy.

Breast milk is the perfect food tailor-made for your baby. You and your baby will learn to breastfeed together. For some people it comes naturally, and others might need a little help—both are completely normal!

The Philly Loves Families team is skilled at ensuring you breastfeed successfully so that both you and your baby can enjoy the real health benefits that come from it.

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Breastfeeding and Chestfeeding:
Different terms, related meanings.

Chestfeeding and bodyfeeding are gender inclusive terms used to talk about the different ways babies are fed breast milk or formula from someone’s chest. If you prefer the word chestfeeding, bodyfeeding, or any other terms, let your care team, friends, and family know. Philly Loves Families recognizes all different forms of human milk feeding.

Some of the many benefits of breastfeeding for your baby
  • Breast milk has hundreds of components that help your baby grow and protect them from allergies and illnesses. Breast milk is alive!
  • The components in your breast milk change over time to meet your baby’s needs.
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) for your baby.
  • Breast milk is your baby’s first “immunization” and is equally important for premature and full-term babies.
  • Babies who drink breast/chest milk have fewer respiratory illnesses like asthma, less chance of allergies, ear infections, lower incidence of juvenile cancers, just to name a few!
The benefits of breastfeeding for you as a parent
  • Breastfeeding helps your body relax by releasing a hormone called prolactin.
  • Breastfeeding is an important way you can bond with your baby by producing the love hormone, oxytocin.
  • By not having to buy formula, you produce less environmental waste, lowering your carbon footprint.
  • Breastfeeding causes your uterus to contract, helping it to go back to its pre-pregnancy size and decreasing the risk of post-partum complications. Read about other physical and emotional benefits to breastfeeding.
  • The longer you breastfeed, the lower your risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
Follow your baby’s feeding cues

Breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. Babies show you they’re hungry by:

  • Lip-smacking or sticking out their tongues
  • Making sucking motions
  • Moving hands or fists to their mouths
  • Stretching
  • Turning their heads to the side
  • Nuzzling against you or looking for a breast
  • Some signs your baby is full:
  • Releasing or “falling off” the breast
  • Turning away from the breast
  • Relaxing their body and opening their fists
  • Falling asleep
Tips for making sure your newborn is fed enough
  • A baby's tummy is tiny.
  • You'll need to feed your newborn on demand but at least 8-12 times a day (within 24 hours), whenever they want to, for as long as they want to. Here's a little way to remember: eight or more in 24!
  • An average feed lasts 15-20 minutes, but babies can vary and sometimes want little snacks in between meals, just like adults do! Learn more about what the CDC recommends for how much and how often to breastfeed.
  • 5-6 wet diapers and 1-3 dirty diapers in 24 hours will let you know your baby is getting enough breast milk during their first months of life.

More tips for positioning and latching your baby

There is no one correct position to feed your baby, as long as you and your baby feel comfortable.

Some steps to help your baby latch to your breast
  • Hold your baby so their nose is in line with or at the same height as your nipple.
  • Your baby’s ears, shoulders, and hips should be in a straight line.
  • Touch your baby’s upper lip with your nipple and wait for them to “root” or open their mouth wide. Aim your nipple towards the baby’s nose when the mouth is fully open, and make sure the baby is not only latched on the nipple.
  • Bring your baby close to your breast, with their chin touching your breast and at least one nostril clear.
  • When your baby sucks, you should feel a pull/tugging sensation that may feel different or “weird,” but any intense pain should disappear after the first 30 seconds if the baby is well-positioned.
The let-down/the “milk release”

The let-down is when your breast sends signals that release milk for your baby.

  • Let-down can happen right away or may take your baby sucking for a couple of minutes.
  • Some breastfeeding parents feel it and some don’t. If you don’t feel it, you might notice your baby taking longer sucks or swallows, or the side the baby is not on might leak.
  • If let-down is slow, try to relax and reduce distractions. Focus on your baby.
  • If let-down isn’t happening, gently massage the breasts, apply warm cloths, or take a warm shower.
Helping your baby unlatch

You may need to help your baby unlatch when switching to the other breast.

  • To unlatch, gently slide your finger into the corner of baby’s mouth to break the suction.
  • If your baby is sucking and you feel pain or pinching, you may need to unlatch your baby to break suction and try again.
  • You can try to burp your baby after their feeding is complete but not all breastfeeding babies need to burp after every feed.
Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding is allowed everywhere – it’s the law. You can learn more about your breastfeeding legal rights in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia from the Women’s Law Project.

  • Wear clothes that can easily adjust for breastfeeding. One option is wearing a tank top underneath another shirt. You can then pull your shirt up and the top of the tank top down to reveal your breast to your baby. This gives you privacy while giving baby access.
  • Pack a small blanket or nursing cover if you would like more privacy.
  • Find a comfortable space and a relaxing position.
  • If you feel a bit uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, it’s helpful to always remember that you’re doing the best thing for your baby. You don’t eat in the bathroom so your baby shouldn’t either!
Leaking in public? It might happen.

Leaks might happen most frequently when you first begin breastfeeding. Here are some tips:

  • If you don’t leak, it doesn’t mean you aren’t producing enough milk!
  • Use nursing pads or a breast milk catching cup to save and store let-down.
  • Recognize the let-down sensation and put pressure on your chest by crossing your forearms.
  • If leaking, it’s a sign that it’s time to remove milk from your breasts. If you can’t feed the baby right away, try to pump and store the milk immediately.
  • Keep an extra shirt at work or in your car.
Pump and store

Having breast milk on hand for your baby will ensure they continue to receive the best nutrition while you are away from them.

  • If you need to be away from your baby during a normal feeding time, pump, or hand express when you’d usually breastfeed.
  • You can store breast milk in a plastic or glass bottle, or in small plastic bags made for bottle feeding.
  • Store breast milk in 2 to 4oz increments.
  • Breast milk can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for longer. Learn more about safe storage for breast milk.
  • There are many ways you can get a breast pump for free or at low cost. Reach out to your insurance, Medicaid provider, local WIC office, or delivery hospital. Learn more about finding a breast pump.

Download the Pacify app!

You have access to breastfeeding experts who are ready to help 24/7, for free.

We encourage you to download the Pacify app. It’s free for Philly families when you use enrollment code PHILLY. The app provides you with unlimited access to live expert help (through voice or video call) on a wide range of topics, including successful latching techniques, breast pain, maintaining adequate milk supply, pumping, transitioning to solids foods, and more.

You can connect through audio or video chat to a nationwide network of breastfeeding consultants who are available 24/7.

Be sure to use enrollment code PHILLY for free sign-up.

Learn more

Get infant feeding assistance

Many parents have questions or need help learning how to feed their baby. The Philly Loves Families Team and Philadelphia Health Centers both provide free help during your baby’s first months.

To connect with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health's Lactation Support Team for prenatal education or postpartum feeding education and support, please fill out this form. You can connect with a lactation counselor to form an ongoing relationship.

Sign up for free assistance

To get breastfeeding help at a Philadelphia Health Center, reach out to the Health Center to see if they have a lactation counselor onsite.

We’re here to support all parents: cisgender, transgender, or non-binary!

Here are some valuable resources that you may find useful as a transgender or non-binary parent:

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