4171 - You Want What is Best for Your Baby

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

You want what is best for your baby, Your Baby Needs Your Milk

As you make plans to breastfeed your baby…

Your breast milk is:

  • Specially made to meet your baby's needs.
  • Changing as your baby grows.
  • All your baby needs for the first six months.

Only you can breastfeed your baby. Your breast milk alone:

  • Gives your baby everything he needs to grow and develop.
  • Helps prevent illnesses like ear infections and diarrhea.
  • Protects from chronic health problems like diabetes, obesity and some allergies.
  • Reduces the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Gives your baby the best start to a healthy life.

Before Your Baby is Born - Get Ready to Breastfeed

  1. When you decide to breastfeed, tell your doctor and your baby's doctor. Ask questions about:
    • Giving your baby only your breast milk.
    • Feeding baby right after birth.
  2. Learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits for you and the baby. Ask about classes, videos and booklets.
  3. Discuss your breastfeeding plans with family and friends. Tell them:
    • How important it is to you that your baby receive only your breast milk. Your baby will not get formula, water, tea, other fluids or food for the first 4-6 months.
    • Dad's role is very important. He can hold the baby before and after feedings. He needs support as he learns to provide daily care and love for his baby.
    • They can support you and your family by helping with household activities. For the first 2 weeks, ask them to assist you with cleaning, meals, and babysitting for older siblings.
  4. Notice the changes in your breasts during your pregnancy. Your breasts begin to make colostrum - your first milk. You do not need to do any special breast care. Just wash your breasts when you shower or bathe.

During Your Hospital Stay - Learn How to Breastfeed

Discuss your breastfeeding plan with the hospital staff. They will help you. You and your baby will learn how to breastfeed together. Some babies learn right away. Others take more time.

When you talk to the hospital staff, tell them you want to:

  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin right after delivery and until your baby takes your breast milk for the first time.
  • Keep your baby with you in your room - day and night. This will help you learn when your baby is hungry and wants to eat.
  • Feed your baby only breast milk while in the hospital. No formula, no water and no pacifiers. Feeding your baby often will help your breasts make plenty of milk.

The first time you breastfeed, try several holds until you find a comfortable breastfeeding position for you and your baby:

  • Laid back
  • Football
  • Cross Cradle
  • Side Lying
  • Cradle

Help your baby latch on and begin to breastfeed

  • Turn your baby toward you. You and your baby will be "tummy-to-tummy."
  • Place your nipple in front of your baby's nose. Help him to move his head back slightly and open his mouth very wide - like a big yawn.
  • Bring baby close in to the breast so that her chin and lower lip touch the breast first. Then your nipple goes into the top portion of her mouth.
  • Support your baby's upper back and shoulders (not his head) with the palm of your hand as his head tips back.
  • Help your baby take a good portion of your breast into her mouth - not just the nipple. Her lips should curl out.
  • You will feel a gentle tugging on your breast as baby sucks.  The latch should feel comfortable.
  • Allow your baby to breastfeed until he releases the nipple.
  • Offer your baby your other breast. Allow him to breastfeed until he ends the feeding.
  • Stop if your baby is full and not interested in the second breast.

At-Home Breastfeeding Tips

Know Your Baby's Signs of Hunger

Your baby will need to breastfeed at least 8 - 12 times in 24 hours. Feeding this often increases your milk supply. Your baby needs these calories to help his brain grow and develop.

You will know your baby is hungry when:

  • He sucks his fists or fingers.
  • She turns toward your breast.
  • He starts to wake up.
  • She smacks her lips.
  • He squirms or wiggles.

Your baby may want to breastfeed for a short time. Other times may be longer. Some feedings are close together. Some are far apart. This is normal. Babies do not feed on a schedule. Babies may have days when they seem to nurse more than usual. This often occurs during a "growth spurt." Her feeding schedule usually goes back to normal in a day or two.

You Know Breastfeeding is Going Well When:

  • You hear or see your baby swallowing. Some babies swallow quietly. You will notice a pause in their breathing as they swallow.
  • You see your baby's ears "wiggle" slightly.
  • Your baby's chin touches your breast.
  • You and your baby are both comfortable.

Your body makes as much milk as your baby needs. Your baby is getting enough breast milk when:

  • Your breasts feel softer after nursing. Breasts feel firm when they are full of milk in the first few weeks.
  • She seems relaxed and satisfied after a feeding.
  • He starts to gain weight. Your baby will have some weight loss right after birth. He should regain that weight loss by 2 weeks of age.
  • She has 6-8 wet diapers a day. In the first few days, she may have only one or two wet diapers.
  • He has about 3 stools a day for the first month.

Use this simple chart to keep track of your baby's diapers.

Breastfeeding Log and Diaper Diary

*Check mark each time baby breastfeeds **Circle W for wet diaper ***Circle D for dirty diaper

Daily Goal Birthday Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
8 - 12 feedings
Dirty diapers D DD DDD DDD DDD DDD DDD

Common Breastfeeding Questions Mothers Ask

Can I breastfeed if I am sick?

Yes. You can breastfeed with most illnesses - coughs, colds, fever, flu or common diarrhea. Your milk is still good. It helps protect your baby from getting sick.

If you have questions about breastfeeding when you are sick, call your healthcare provider. Most medications are okay to take while breastfeeding, but make sure you check.

Can I breastfeed if my baby is sick?

Yes. Breastfeeding will comfort your baby, especially when she is sick. You can breastfeed through most illnesses and medical procedures. Contact your doctor for questions.

Can I breastfeed if I have small breasts?

Yes. Whether your breasts are large or small, your body makes plenty of milk for your baby.

Can I still breastfeed if my diet is not perfect?

Yes. You do not have to eat a "perfect" diet to make "good" breast milk. If you eat your regular foods, your breast milk will contain all the nutrients your baby needs.

All foods can be included in your diet. But, if you think your baby is fussy and not sleeping well, you might decrease the amount of coffee and soda you drink. They contain caffeine.

You do not need to drink milk to make breast milk. Drink when you are thirsty. Water is a good choice.

Can I still breastfeed if I smoke cigarettes?

Yes. While it is better if you do not smoke, it is healthier for your baby if you breastfeed. Protect your baby from second-hand smoke. Talk to your healthcare provider for tips or programs to help you stop smoking.

Can I still breastfeed if I drink alcohol?

Any alcohol you drink passes into your breast milk and can harm your baby. If you have questions, discuss this with your doctor.

Never use illegal drugs during pregnancy or when you breastfeed.

Can I get pregnant while I breastfeed?

Yes. You can use many forms of birth control. Discuss these options with your doctor. He knows what you can and cannot use.

Can I breastfeed when I go back to work or school?

Yes. While you are at work or school, you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby. State and federal law requires employers to provide a private place and break time for a breastfeeding mother to express milk or feed her baby.

Most childcare providers are happy to work with breastfeeding mothers. When you need to be separated from your baby, your WIC program or lactation consultant can help you work out a plan for feeding your baby.

Can I breastfeed anywhere I go?  

Yes. State and Federal laws protect the rights of nursing mothers and babies. You have the right to breastfeed your baby anywhere.

Snuggle Skin-to-Skin with Your Baby

Snuggle skin-to-skin with your baby between feedings.

Skin-to-skin contact helps your baby recover from the process of birth. It may help your body make milk for your baby.

It is easy.

  • Undress your baby
  • Place your baby with his chest next to your bare chest
  • Then cover yourself and the baby with a blanket

Dad can also snuggle skin-to-skin after you have breastfed your baby.

Take Care of Yourself While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding should not hurt. While breastfeeding:

  • Make sure your bra supports your breasts and is not too tight.
  • Contact a breastfeeding support person if your nipples get sore - beyond a slight tenderness. You may need help with baby's position or latch.
  • Call your doctor if a breast is red and tender or you feel feverish.
  • Consult a breastfeeding support person before using any creams or lotions on your breasts. Medications in creams can transfer to your baby.

Women's Breastfeeding

Bill of Rights

Before your baby is born -

You have the right to know:

  • The benefits and basics of breastfeeding.
  • The risk of formula feeding.

You have the right to learn about breastfeeding in words you can understand.

In the hospital - You have the right to:

  • Begin breastfeeding your baby within the first hour of life.
  • Place your baby skin to skin right after birth. You can keep her with you with no disruption until after the first breastfeeding has been completed. You may hold her anytime later when you ask.
  • Provide breast milk to your premature or sick baby. You can breastfeed him with no bottles or pacifiers given without your okay.
  • Begin pumping when needed.
  • Be up to date on the care, procedures and medicines that may affect breastfeeding.
  • Be assisted by staff that is skilled in breastfeeding and helpful.

In the hospital - You also have the right to:

  • Keep your baby in your room, with you, for 24 hours a day.
  • Limit visitors so that you and your baby can get to know each other without distractions.
  • Hold and comfort your baby during tests and well baby-checks.
  • Be shown how to express and store your breast milk.
  • Know who to call for breastfeeding help.
  • Know the breastfeeding laws in your state.
  • Be protected from marketing plans such as free formula bags.


  • Your baby needs only breast milk for the first 6 months.
  • You can produce all the milk your baby needs.
  • The more your baby nurses at the breast, the more milk you will make.
  • The healthiest babies are ones who just get breast milk.
  • Many people want to help you make breastfeeding a success for you and your baby.

If you have a concern or just want to talk, we can help. Just ask:

Breastfeeding Peer Counselor

WIC Staff 

Hospital Nurse 

Lactation Consultant 


I only drink breast milk.

Baby's Name and Medical Records # 

Mother's Name and Room # 

Date of Birth

Time of Birth 

Baby's Doctor

Mother's Doctor

Blood Type 




(866) 324-5553 TTY/Nextalk or 711 TTY Relay

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

DHS 4171 (R-06-17) Best for Baby Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 13,000 copies P.O. #17-1977