Should you need urgent health advice please contact your GP or call NHS 111. In an emergency please visit A&E or call 999

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How to recognise a good breastfeed

What a good feed looks like

Many mothers’ worry if their baby is getting enough milk because they cannot see the volume of a feed. For reassurance, check through the steps below to guide you.

  • Your baby detaches from the breast spontaneously
  • You notice wet and dirty nappies – see baby’s red book for quantity
  • Each feed is between 5-40 minutes, baby decides for himself each feed
  • Your baby is feeding 10- 12 times within a 24 hour period
  • Your baby is settled after a feed
  • They also wake for the next feed
  • Your nipples aren’t sore and haven’t changed shape following a feed (they may be longer)

It is important to know that it is not the length of a feed that indicates how much milk your baby is taking but what he is doing at the breast. It is helpful to observe your baby’s sucking pattern during a breastfeed.

What you may typically see when your baby feeds and is deeply latched at the breast

  • Sucking pattern starts with rapid sucks to release the hormone oxytocin which stimulates the milk to let down (you may not feel this or it can feel like a tingling sensation/sharp)
  • Once the milk has let down, the sucking pattern changes to deep, rhymical sucks as the ducts fill with milk
  • At this stage, baby’s mouth fills with milk & baby swallows every 1 to 2 sucks – This is active feeding
  • Active feeding may be heard as a soft ‘’kah’’ sound as baby swallows
  • Baby may have frequent rest periods during this active feeding phase
  • As feed progresses, milk volume decreases, fat content increases & the sucking pattern changes to more of a quiver (the fat rich milk moves down the ducts)

This Facebook video demonstrates what active feeding looks like and the signs that baby is deeply latched to your breast.

Feeding helplines and digital advice tools

If you are unsure whether your baby is breastfeeding well please contact us via the contact details below.

ChatHealth Logo

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-5 years called ChatHealth. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a health visitor within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the service reopens.

  • ChatHealth messaging service:


    07480 635164
  • Family Centre Service (Health Visiting and Family Support):


    0300 123 7572

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

This page was last reviewed on 24-04-2024

This page will be next reviewed on 24-04-2027