Breastfeeding guide

Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for mother and baby.
Learn more
  • Updated:5 Sep 2009

01 .Why breastfeed?


Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for mother and baby. The Australian government and the World Health Organisation recommend babies are exclusively breastfeed until six months of age.

Why breast is best

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed to nourish your baby: It’s made up of nutrients suited to the baby’s growth rate and can compensate for the baby’s fluid loss through sweating on hot days.
  • It’s easily digested by your baby: It’s suited to baby’s immature kidneys and digestive system. Breastfed babies rarely get constipated and their faeces don’t (or hardly) smell.
  • It’s important for your baby’s health: It increases the resistance to infection and disease and reduces the likelihood of the baby developing asthma or allergies such as eczema.
  • It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly: Milk formulas are more expensive. Fuel, energy and resources are needed for production.
  • It’s important for the mother: Hormones produced during lactation help the uterus return quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. It’s an excellent way of losing fat deposited during pregnancy safely. It also reduces the mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Did you know?

The colostrum, the nourishment your baby gets in the first days, is a rich mixture of protein and other nutrients and antibodies. It’s everything your baby needs for the first few days.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


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02.Difficulties and tips


Difficulties with breastfeeding

Mothers who planned to breastfeed sometimes experience problems which can cause them stress and even feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Difficulties can be caused by:

  • Supply problems
  • baby’s failure to thrive
  • breast pain, engorgement, blocked ducts, cracked nipples or inverted nipples
  • social constraints regarding breastfeeding in public
  • mother’s work schedule
  • sickness of mother or child

If you experience difficulties try to get help immediately, breastfeeding difficulties can become more complicated over time. Call the 24hour breastfeeding help line staffed by Australian Breastfeeding Association volunteers on 1800 686 2 686, website (, also check contacts for Early Childhood health services in your area.

Breastfeeding tips

  • Make yourself comfortable at feed times, it may help to lay down and cuddle your baby before feeding. Relaxation exercises such as breathing deeply and slowly can help if you are tense.
  • Gently massaging your breasts can help to get the milk flowing.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet, eat what you enjoy and avoid any foods that upset you.
  • You can increase your milk supply by feeding your baby more often.
  • Incorrect attachment of the baby on the breast is the most common cause of nipple pain.
  • Avoiding soaps and shampoos during showering will help prevent nipple dryness.
  • Ask your partner for support such as bringing you something to drink while you breastfeed.

Many women express their milk manually, alternatively you can use a breast pump. Pumps can be purchased or hired from the ABA’s Mothers Direct catalogue (, pharmacies and baby shops. There are three types:

  • Manual pumps include piston-style pumps (like a giant syringe with a funnel at one end and a collection bottle attached), which need two hands to operate and lever-operated pumps, which can be used single-handed. The ABA advises against breast pumps with a squeezable rubber bulb to create suction: suction pressure is difficult to control and may cause discomfort or nipple damage. Price range for two hand pump: $55-$65
    Price range for one hand pump: $110
  • Electric pumps: considered very efficient. They are expensive to buy, consider hiring one from ABA groups, hospitals, some pharmacies and other companies.
    Price range: Depending on the pump the ABA charges $30-$50 per week – ABA members get 50% discount on these rates.
  • Battery-operated pumps: recommend for intermittent use – some are fully automated, others require you to repeatedly press a button for each ‘squeeze’.
    Price range: $190

Tip: Breast (nursing) pads can help minimise the problems milk leaking from your breast can cause. Disposable paper one can cost around 30 cents, an alternative is washable cotton pads (around $3 for a pair).

  • Australian Breastfeeding Association ( 24hour helpline Tel 1800 6862 686
  • Healthdirect Australia is a 24-hour telephone health advice line staffed by Registered Nurses to provide expert health advice. It is currently available to residents of the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. Healthdirect will be made progressively available to residents of New South Wales and Tasmania, it’s scheduled to be a national service by 2011. Phone 1800 022 222
  • Raising Children Website ( developed with the help of an extensive network including the Australian Government.


Early childhood health centres

Usually provided by your state or territory health service. They provide parenting advice, information and healthcare services such as advice and help with breastfeeding problems

  • ACT
    Community Health, ph: (02) 6207 1043, Parentlink, phone13 34 27 - 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday
  • NSW
    For centre locations throughout New South Wales, consult your local White Pages under the heading 'Early Childhood Health Centre' or 'Community Health Centre',
    Specialist centres:
    Tresillian , helpline (02) 9787 0855 or 1800 637 357;
    Karitane , phone 1300 227 464;
    Parentline (Centacare), ph 13 20 55
  • NT
    Northern Territory Department of Health & Community Services - Community Care Centres ph: (08) 8999 2400
  • QLD
    Queensland Health Community Child Health Service 24hrs Health line staffed by nurses, ph: 13 43 25 84 (Queensland)
    Infant feeding support clinics:
    Ellen Barron Family Centre, located in the Prince Charles Hospital, Rode Rd, Chermside, Brisbane, ph (07) 3139 6500.
    Alderley Child Health Clinic, Shop 4, 24 South Pine Road, Alderley,
    Kallangur Child Health Centre, 126 School Road, Kallangur
  • SA
    Check the White pages under 'Child & Youth Health' or call Child & Youth Health, Child and Youth Health Parent Helpline (24hrs), ph: 1300 364 100
  • TAS
    Family, Child & Youth Health Service, Department of Health & Human Services, Child Health Centre locations & contact details, ph: PITAS - Parent Information Telephone Assistance Service 1300 808 178.
  • VIC 
    Contact your local council for your nearest centre or call Maternal and Child Health Service, Support Telephone Line (24hrs) ph: 13 22 29
    Early Parenting Centres:
    O'Connell Family Centre (03) 8416 7600,
    Tweddle Child + Family Health Service (Mother & Baby Unit) (03) 9689 1577,
    Queen Elizabeth Mother/Baby Unit (03) 9549 2777
  • WA 
    Child Health Services, clinic locations, Health Info line, 1300 135 030