Breastfeeding 101: Answers to Frequently Asked Breastfeeding Questions

Mom and Baby

Lots of new moms have questions about breastfeeding. That’s why Pediatrics East offers lactation consulting services to help you become confident in your role as a mom. You’re doing great mom! We’re here to help.

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Breastfeeding is an important experience for new mothers and their babies, but the process can come with some seemingly unanswered questions. While breastfeeding is a personal journey and not everyone you ask will have the same answers, we gathered the most  requently asking breastfeeding questions

Breastfeeding for Beginners

What should I expect in the first few weeks of breastfeeding?

The first few weeks of breastfeeding will primarily consist of you and your baby getting to know each other. Once you give birth, you can expect skin-to-skin contact, which is the perfect time to give your first breastfeed a go. This skin-to-skin contact is important over the first few weeks to help your baby latch properly using natural crawling and latching reflexes. The colostrum you produce in the first few days is very concentrated, so you can expect shorter but more often feedings for your baby. Once into a routine, your baby’s sucking should stimulate your milk production, ensuring there’s enough milk for the baby.

Is breastfeeding painful?

Simply put, no, breastfeeding should not be painful if done correctly. There may be initial discomfort while mom and baby get the hang of it, but once your baby successfully latches, there should be no pain. An incorrect latch, however, will lead to pain and low milk production. If you are experiencing pain during breastfeeding, you should follow up with one of our lactation consultants with questions and concerns. 

Can I go to work while breastfeeding?

Investing in a good breast pump and beginning to freeze expressed milk is the first step for working mothers to continue breastfeeding. This way, your baby can still get the nutritional benefits from breast milk, and you can maintain your milk production. Begin offering your baby a bottle filled with breast milk about a month before your return to work to get them used to feeding from it. You should speak to a lactation consultant for advice on creating a schedule and pumping at work, as well as determining the best bottle feeding schedule for your baby.

What’s the difference between nursing and pumping?

Nursing and pumping will both result in your baby receiving breast milk, the main difference is the method. Nursing is your baby directly latching onto your breast and feeding from there, whereas pumping is ahead of time and either frozen or refrigerated for future use in bottles. Pumping is the more expensive option since you need equipment not necessary for exclusively breastfed babies. However, the correct method is the one that works for you and your baby. Many moms, especially those working or on-the-go, use a combination of pumping and nursing depending on their schedule and production. 

How can I involve my partner in breastfeeding?

While fathers can’t be as involved as mothers in the breastfeeding process, they can still provide support in the form of helping with bath time, diaper changes, and essential bonding time with the baby.  If you’re feeling lonely during breastfeeding sessions, ask your partner to provide support in the form of spending time next to you while you breastfeed.  Partners can also help by preparing meals for you or older children and taking on other household chores to give you the opportunity to relax and focus on your baby.

Feeding Your Baby

How much should my baby be eating?

The general rule of thumb for infant feedings is 2-3 ounces of breastmilk or formula per pound each day. So, if your baby weighs 9 pounds, they’ll likely need between 18-27 ounces per day. This isn’t always the case for each infant, however. Some babies require more than the average amount of breastmilk or formula, and some require less. If you’re concerned about the amount your baby should be eating, a lactation consultant can help.

How often should my baby be eating?

Newborns will eat every 2-3 hours, and as babies get older, they’ll gradually need more breastmilk or formula fewer times a day until soft foods can be introduced. If you are concerned about the number of times your baby is or isn’t eating, a lactation consultant can help you determine whether or not your baby is getting enough to eat.

Should I wake my baby to eat?

If your baby sleeps for more than 4 hours at a time, you may need to wake him or her for feedings. It may be tempting to let sleeping babies lie, especially when you’re running on little sleep yourself, but keep in mind that feeding a sleepy baby is typically easier than soothing a crying baby.

Should I nurse my baby to sleep?

There are conflicting answers to this question. Nursing your baby to sleep can help with bonding in the first few months. However, nursing consistently too close to bedtime can cause your baby to associate the two, potentially starting a bad habit of your baby needing to nurse to sleep. If you’re struggling with this, speak to a lactation consultant to determine what would be best for you and your baby. 

How do I know if I’m making enough milk?

Breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life and encouraged through the first year. Each baby will be different, and your decision to wean should be based on you and your baby's needs. Some mothers begin to wean when they return to work or their baby shows interest in solid foods, but many others will continue to breastfeed as long as their baby still wants to.

Weaning Your Baby

When should I wean my baby?

Breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life and encouraged through the first year. Each baby will be different, and your decision to wean should be based on you and your baby's needs. Some mothers begin to wean when they return to work or their baby shows interest in solid foods, but many others will continue to breastfeed as long as their baby still wants to.

How do you wean a breastfed baby?

As we stated before, your milk production should correlate with how often your baby nurses. When you decide to begin weaning your breastfed baby, slowly taper off how often and how long you nurse each day. The less you nurse, the less milk will be produced. You can distract your baby with solid foods, toys, and activities to keep their mind off of breastfeeding.  If you need help weaning, speak to one of our lactation consultants.

Visiting a Lactation Consultant

How common is it for a new mom to have questions about lactation?

Questions about lactation are much more common than you may think. Research has shown as many as two thirds of mothers have trouble breastfeeding or aren’t able to breastfeed as often or for as long as they’d like. That’s why Pediatrics East offers lactation consultants to help answer your questions and guide you through the process.

What is a lactation consultant?

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) offer assistance for families who need advice and guidance on how to help your baby latch properly, how to set a feeding schedule, how to use a breast pump, how to handle going back to work when you’re breastfeeding, how to help treat pain and soreness from breastfeeding, and how to breastfeed with confidence.

When should I see a lactation consultant?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, unsure, or frustrated with the breastfeeding or formula feeding process, a lactation consultant can help build your confidence and provide tips and remedies for latching, milk production, and more. There’s no reason to be hard on yourself if you’re unsure about what to do. That’s why we’re here!

What can I expect from a lactation consultation?

A lactation consultant will guide you through the process of breastfeeding, show you different methods, and answer your questions about feedings, formula, and more. Lactation consultants can meet with you after you give birth in the hospital, at the Pediatrics East clinics, or from the comfort of your very own home.

How can a lactation consultant help me?

If you’re having trouble getting your baby to latch on, a lactation consultant can provide tips and tricks to help you and your baby learn the process. A lactation consultant can also provide remedies for breast soreness, help you set a feeding schedule, provide advice on bottle feeding and how much to feed your baby, and so much more. Think of a lactation consultant as your go-to source of information for all things related to newborn nutrition. We’re here to help you in any way we can.

If I’m having trouble breastfeeding, do I have other options?

Formula is always an option for mothers who are having trouble getting their little ones to breastfeed properly. While we recognize that breast milk is the recommended source of nutrition for infants, we understand that some mothers may have a preference for formula feeding. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, it’s our goal to support you through the journey however we can.

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Posted by Tim Flatt at 15:13
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