Getting breast milk from mom to baby

Indications that your baby is hungry or full.

Your body is amazing! It knows how to produce the right amount of breast milk that your baby needs to grow and develop. Here are some tips as you begin to breastfeed and some indications to help you know that your baby has had enough to eat.

Watch your baby! Watching your baby will help you know if they are still hungry or becoming full.

  • Hunger signs: Breastfeed whenever your baby shows signs of hunger. They may suck on their hands and fingers, or turn their head from side to side looking and feeling for the breast with their mouth and lips.
  • During a feeding: Your baby’s lower jaw should move and their ears may wiggle. You will hear or see your baby swallow.
  • When they have had enough: At the end of most feedings, your baby should be satisfied. You will see them relax and then either become sleepy, or become alert and happy. Let your baby end the feeding. They will let you know when they have finished.
  • Sucking after feeding: Feedings usually last about 15 to 20 minutes on each breast. There may be times your baby continues to suck longer because the closeness is comforting. If you need to do other things, you can carefully remove your baby from your breast by sliding a clean finger between baby’s upper and lower gums and then slowly pulling baby away from your breast.
  • How often to feed: All babies are different so watch your baby, not the clock! Most newborn babies will eat every one to three hours, or eight to 12 times in 24 hours. Sometimes a sleepy baby will not ask to eat as often and you will need to wake them to breastfeed. Babies go longer between feedings as they get older, but will eat more often during growth spurts.
  • Ask for help – If you are ever concerned that your baby is not getting enough breast milk, keep breastfeeding and talk to your local Michigan State University Extension breastfeeding peer counselor, WIC nutritionist or your health care provider.

Watch your body! It’s normal for your breasts to change when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. From the start of your pregnancy until you discontinue breastfeeding, your breasts will change to meet your baby’s needs.

  • Before a feeding, your breasts will feel full and may even have milk dripping from them. You may feel tingling as your breasts prepare to release milk.
  • After a feeding your nipple should be free from pain and round, not pinched. Your breasts will not feel as heavy as they did before the feeding.

MSU Extension’s Breastfeeding Mother to Mother Program can answer your questions about breastfeeding. For additional information on breastfeeding your baby, go to and look under “fact sheets” or call a representative of the program in your local MSU Extension office.

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