The Nursing (direct latching) Rules

When following the Breastfeeding Rules, nursing is one of two ways to feed your newborn baby.

Nursing must be Comfortable & Effective 


  • It is common for your nipples to feel sensitive, tender, chapped, or sore for the first 10 days of breastfeeding. Around 10 days your nipples should be getting better, not worse.
  • It is not normal to have toe curling pain, cracks, bleeding, or scabbing. If you are experiencing pain, don’t keep repeating the same action over and over. 
  • If latching hurts and your nipples are being damaged, the reasonable thing to do is to stop the trauma and fix the problem, right? So, let’s do that rather than continuing to damage your nipples even worse. 
  • If nursing isn’t comfortable, we go back to rule #1. Keep the baby fed by using a bottle of supplemental pumped milk or formula if you can’t latch directly. Pump to protect your supply. Seek help so you can troubleshoot the painful latch. 


  • Effective means the baby has adequate diaper output and doesn’t lose more than 10% of their birth weight in the first 3 days, then begins to regain weight by day 4.
  • Effective means that as the baby regains their weight and trends back upwards, gaining 0.75-1 oz per day. 
  • Ideally, the baby is back to birth weight by 14 days old.
  • Document  your baby’s weight every time he or she is weighed in the hospital or at the pediatrician’s office. Do your own math and make sure your baby didn’t lose too much weight.
  • If breastfeeding isn’t effective, we go back to rule #1. Feed the baby.Protect your supply. Seek help.
Lactation Consultant Katie Madden weighs newborn baby

One boob or two?

When nursing, it is almost always a good idea to offer the second breast at each feeding cycle, even if the baby doesn’t usually take it.

In order to better know if a baby will need one breast or both at a feeding cycle, it helps to know your own unique milk supply. Your milk supply, coupled with your unique baby’s, determines if the baby will likely be satisfied with one breast or both at a feeding cycle.

Latch your baby on your boob and nurse him as long as he will actively drink. Use breast compressions to keep him actively swallowing. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes on the first  boob, but time matters less than what the baby is doing on the boob.

If they detach themself, first check to see if it was an accident. Sometimes babies just slip off. They will quickly look for it again as if to say, “Oops! My bad! I wasn’t done!”

If they detach themselves and don’t immediately look for it again and seem contented, go ahead call that boob “done.”

If they fall asleep after drinking well, call that boob “done.”

If you are compressing and they are rapidly nibbling, not drinking, no matter where you squeeze, you can choose to wait it out for baby to detach or you can unlatch them and call that boob “done.”


Often, babies need a little time to digest boob #1 before considering boob #2. 

Place baby up on your chest,  try to burp. Change a diaper. Hang out for about five minutes, then offer the second breast. It is almost always a good idea to offer the second breast. If they don’t want it, fine, but you can’t know if you don’t offer.

They may take that second breast for a little bit of time or a long time. Just be sure to start on that second boob next time.

Start finding a rhythm to your nursing cycle.