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Almost all mothers can breastfeed no matter what the size or shape of their breasts. Statistics show that only 1% of mothers are unable to produce breastmilk. With adequate knowledge and support, most mothers can breastfeed successfully. All mothers, regardless of their HIV status, are encouraged to breastfeed.

When To Feed?

Newborn baby’s tummy is very small and can only hold small amount of milk at a time. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed as and when their babies are hungry. It’s normal for babies to want to feed ever so frequently, this is often referred to as cluster feeding. Your baby’s early hunger cues will include stirring, opening her/his mouth and rooting (turning her/his head from side to side in search of your breast).

Baby’s Breastfeeding Cues

  • Fists moving to mouth
  • Head turning to look for the breast
  • Stretching
  • Increased physical movement
  • Becoming more alert and active
  • Sucking on hands or lip smacking
  • Opening and closing mouth
  • Crying
Baby's Huger Cues

How Long Will Baby Feed

Your baby should feed for as long as s/he wants, so come feeding time, make sure you’re comfortable! You may want to use the time to read a book, sing/talk to your baby, or just close your eyes and relax with a cup of tea. The first milk produced at the beginning of each feed (fore milk) contains enough water to satisfy your baby’s thirst, even in hot weather. As your baby continues to feed, hind milk is produced, which is high in essential fats and nutrients. This hind milk is filling and helps your baby’s body and brain grow. So, it is important that your baby feeds until s/he pulls away from the breast, at which point you will need to offer her/him your other breast. Your baby should continue to feed on the second breast until s/he pulls away.

Frequency Of Feeding

Your newborn’s tummy is very small (about the size of a cherry) and can only hold a small amount of milk at a time. As such your baby will need to feed regularly, about 8 to 12 times a day, or whenever s/he are hungry. Babies tend to breastfeed more than usual when they go through growth spurts, which are periods of fast growth. 

You can look out for the following signs to check if your baby is getting enough milk:

  • A minimum of 2 to 3 wet nappies and 2 dirty nappies with stools on your baby’s second and third day
  • On the 4th and 5th days, 5 or more wet diapers and at least 2 stools are considered as a good indicator that your baby is getting enough milk
  • If your healthcare provider confirms that your baby is gaining weight, reaching their developmental milestones and baby continues to produce wet and dirty nappies it means that your baby is getting enough milk. You can speak to your healthcare provider for any concerns. 

Going Out with Baby

Mothers may need to go out with baby for various reasons, including taking baby for immunisations or when they don’t have someone to look after baby. It’s your right to breastfeed your baby anytime and anywhere you feel comfortable. You can find a comfortable way to breastfeed your baby when you’re not at home. You may even prefer to pump prior to going out and use the pumped supply to feed baby whilst out, but bear in mind that you may still need to pump to help alleviate engorged breasts whilst out and maintain your milk supply. Don’t forget those breast pads!

Remember we’re still living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you wear a clean face mask, avoid any physical contact with other people and surfaces, if possible, keep other people at least 1-2 meters away from you and baby and wash your hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds or use alcohol sanitiser.


  1. La leche league international South Africa. Link: