The NICE Clinical Knowledge Summary on breastfeeding problems recommends that problems such as breast pain, nipple pain, low milk supply (true or perceived) and oversupply of milk should result in assessment by someone specifically trained to observe and advise on positioning and attachment. All breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents should receive information on national and local support groups (links are given in the CKS) and be advised to continue breastfeeding/chestfeeding where possible.

Health professionals who have not received specific training are not expected to advise on how to improve positioning and attachment. However in addition to making an assessment of any medical problem causing or resulting from breastfeeding/chestfeeding difficulty, they should do two things:

  • Know that problems with positioning and attachment are the most common cause of breastfeeding/chestfeeding problems

  • Refer, or tell people how to self-refer, to others with the appropriate expertise

Remember, expert assessment of positioning and attachment is so important that it's the first line recommended treatment for breastfeeding/chestfeeding pain, suspected colic, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, faltering growth and problems of milk supply, according to NICE

If you want to learn more about the basics of positioning and attachment, have a look at this video or a thorough description here.

It is generally inappropriate for an untrained health professional to assess for a tongue-tie but referring to others with appropriate expertise will ensure this is considered. First line treatment for tongue-tie related feeding difficulty is expert support with positioning and attachment. If difficulties continue then many families report improvement after tongue-tie release, although there is no robust randomised evidence currently. Health professionals dealing with infants should be aware of local tongue-tie referral pathways.


Thank you for visiting the Hospital Infant Feeding Network. This website is a repository of relevant knowledge and best practice resources for health professionals. To join the conversation, ask questions and share your experiences please join us on Facebook or Twitter.


We will be running Q&A sessions on various topics, which will be advertised on our social media sites. Please email if you have ideas or want to get more involved. We welcome health professionals passionate about supporting breastfeeding and lactation in the hospital setting to join our steering group, please get in contact if this is you!

You may have noticed that we use 'additive' language on our website to refer to lactation and human milk feeding. This means that we might refer to 'breastfeeding/chestfeeding'. Chestfeeding is a term that some non-binary people use to refer to feeding their child at the chest if the word breast is not congruent with their gender identity. Using additive language helps reduce a feeling of exclusion for non-binary and transgender people, without taking away from the importance of words like breastfeeding and mother. There is a much more detailed description of the additive approach here.

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