Get to know the Breastfeeding Lingo

Don’t yet know your areola from your elbow? No problem. Read on.

here's a quick guide to the most common terms you’ll hear used when it comes to breastfeeding. 



The dark area of the breast around the nipple (that cleverly darkens further when pregnant to help your baby find them).

Latching on

This is the way your baby takes your breast into their mouth in order to feed. You’ll hear this phrase a lot in the beginning. A good latch means the baby has a good seal around the nipple and can feed well. It also makes it less painful for you and we’re all for that.

Kangaroo care

A unique bonding experience of holding a baby with skin-to-skin contact, usually snuggled inside your shirt or wrap much like a kangaroo’s pouch. It’s proven to stimulate feeding, stabilize a baby’s heart rate and create a sense of closeness and wellbeing.


This is your baby’s first meal from your breast, produced by your body in the first 3 days or so after the birth. It’s yellow, creamy and rich in nutrients.


This is when you start to feel like Dolly Parton as your breasts seem to swell and feel very full as your milk ‘comes in’. They will settle down but it can feel very strange and a bit sore!

Feeding on demand

This simply means not worrying about the clock. You feed your baby whenever they show you that they are hungry. Common ways your baby will show you this include licking their lips, sticking out their tongue, rooting around, sucking on their hands or, of course, crying.


The first milk released during every feed. If you think of breastfeeding as a three course meal, then this is the soup course. It’s the more watery, thirst-quenching part of the feed.


Once the milk is flowing nicely, it is time for dessert as this creamier, fattier milk is released. Richer and more sustaining, your baby gets their calories from this.

Let down reflex

Another clever design from Mother Nature, this is when your body receives a message (usually your baby’s sucking) to release milk from your breasts. Many mums say it feels a bit like pins-and-needles, which is the feeling as the milk makes its way from the ducts.

Let down pains or after pains

You may be forgiven for thinking your hard working uterus has done its job but it has one more task to do, namely contracting back to its original size. For many women this feels like menstrual cramps and they can be more painful during breastfeeding.


Sometimes milk ducts get blocked and if not cleared can lead to a very painful inflammation of the breast tissue. You may have flu like symptoms as well as a hot, lumpy and painful breast. You’ll need to seek some medical advice if you experience this.


The natural instinct of a newborn to try to seek out the breast. You baby will snuffle around your chest looking for lunch. Especially amusing when the baby is not being held by its mother….


Extracted from the wool of sheep, this cream has soothing, moisturizing and healing properties and is often used to help ease painful nipples after breastfeeding.

Cluster feeding

Don’t worry, this isn’t you feeding lots of babies at once! It’s when a baby feeds very frequently or even continuously for a few hours. Commonly linked to growth spurts or developmental leaps, these feeding frenzies are nothing to do with a drop in your milk supply (a common concern for mums). So grab that remote, snuggle down and enjoy the peace…

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