9 Common Breastfeeding Questions

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Although breastfeeding is often considered the most instinctive method of nourishing your infant, it might not always be a straightforward experience.

1. What quantity of colostrum is required by newborns?

Enriched with protein, low in fat, and easily digestible, colostrum serves as the nourishing and optimal nutrition for your newborn. While initially present in modest quantities, this dense yellow milk aligns perfectly with your newborn's needs—within the initial 24 hours, your infant's stomach is approximately the size of a pea, allowing for intake of merely five to seven milliliters (equivalent to a tenth of an ounce) per feeding.

The production of colostrum commences in your body even before your baby's birth. The shift from nutrient-packed colostrum to mature milk initiates between two to five days after delivery. Simultaneously, the consistency of your breast milk will undergo gradual transformation—not all at once—shifting from the golden-yellow hue of colostrum to a thinner, whiter appearance.

2. When will my breast milk come in?

After giving birth, some moms can start making colostrum right away, although this might change if you had a C-section or a difficult delivery. It’s totally okay! You can still breastfeed. To help your milk come in, hold your baby skin-to-skin during the first hour after birth. This special time helps to trigger hormones for breastfeeding. Try to feed your baby every two to three hours, which is about 8 to 12 times a day. When possible, try to keep your baby close to your skin when not feeding. This can encourage more milk production. Just so you know, it takes about three days before a newborn can even drink one ounce of breast milk, and about a week before they can have more. Dirty diapers show that your baby is getting enough. But if you're still concerned, trust your feelings as a mom. You can talk to a lactation consultant if you need help and call the pediatrician for a weight check to make sure your baby is growing.

3. Does breastfeeding hurt?

The truth is breastfeeding takes some time to get used to and there may be some pain. The good news is there are many solutions to a pain problem. First, if you are experiencing sore or sensitive nipples, check your latch to make sure your baby is breastfeeding and not just nipple feeding. Second, you may want to try different positions so different parts of your breast can rest. If you're feeling any discomfort while nursing, a lactation consultant (that's a breastfeeding expert) can really help you in ways you may not have imagined or read. Give someone a call!

4. How long should I breastfeed my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. This may seem like a short or long amount of time to you. Breastfeeding and the length of time you decide to breastfeed is a personal decision. If the six-month recommendation seems overwhelming, try to focus on breastfeeding day to day and don’t think about the six-month mark. Celebrate each achievement you make. Whether it's your first or fourth child, hitting the one-day, one-week, one-month or one-year mark is a celebration. Take a moment to enjoy the little victories and the benefits you and your baby are gaining.

5. Is it necessary to wake my newborn for feedings?

In the beginning, your baby should be nursing every 2-3 hours. This means 8-12 times in a 24- hour period. This frequent nursing builds your supply and keeps your baby nourished. You can tell if your baby is nourished by looking at the diaper. If there are plenty of pees (6 or more by day 6) and poops (two or more scoopable poops), you’re good! If your baby is sleeping more than 4 hours or so, you need to get in contact with your pediatrician and ask if you should wake your baby for feedings.

6. Which medications are considered safe to take while breastfeeding?

You may be surprised to know that most commonly used medications are safe for breastfeeding. There are two great ways you can check about a specific medication. First, get in contact with a lactation consultant. This person can help and will tell you the classification of the medication based on Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mother’s Milk. Each medication is assigned a Lactation Risk Category from an L1 to an L5. L1 is considered “compatible” with breastfeeding and L5 is considered “hazardous” and should not be used while breastfeeding. Second, call The Infant Risk Center: 1-800-352-2519. They are open from 8 am-3 pm CST Monday to Friday. These are lovely people who know what they are talking about when it comes to medications and breastfeeding. They will give you the most updated research about your medication and its safety. Please don’t stop breastfeeding or pump and dump your milk if you don’t have to. Get in touch with a lactation consultant and/or the Infant Risk Center to find out what the real deal is with the medication you are taking.

7. How can I get my baby to latch?

Babies are born with the instinct to latch, even just moments after being born. It is common for women to have a good initial latch and then run into some issues. A good latch is crucial for starting breastfeeding off strong. With a solid latch, your baby's lips will form a "flanged" or puckered shape around the nipple and the darker area around it, called the areola. This presses on the milk sinuses beneath the areola, which triggers the milk to flow. Your baby should be positioned comfortably against you so they don't have to turn their head to nurse. If you're unsure about your latch or need help with a better position, reach out to a lactation consultant. If your baby doesn't wake up on their own to nurse or nurses for more than 45 minutes but still seems unsatisfied, or if you experience sore, cracked, or nipples, among other problems, it could indicate a poor latch. Issues like tongue-tie or lip-tie might restrict your baby's ability to move their mouth and latch properly, affecting breastfeeding. It's a good idea to meet with a Lactation Consultant as soon as possible to troubleshoot. Lactation Consultants can assess the issue and help you achieve a better latch. Check with your insurance plan because some may cover visits.

8. How long does it take to get your period after having a baby?

Moms who choose not to breastfeed typically see their period return around six to eight weeks after giving birth. But for breastfeeding moms, especially those who exclusively breastfeed, your period might not return until you stop breastfeeding. But here’s something important to know: even if your period hasn't come back, you can still get pregnant while breastfeeding. Ovulation happens before you see your period each month. Once you’ve been cleared for sex by your doctor, (usually four to six weeks after vaginal delivery), please discuss birth control options that work while breastfeeding—unless you're ready for another baby!

9. How can I even out the milk supply in both breasts?

Having one breast produce less milk than the other is totally normal. Sometimes, babies prefer one side or moms find one position more comfortable when breastfeeding or pumping. This isn't usually a big deal—as long as you and your baby are comfortable. There is no need to worry. However, if you notice a significant difference in the size of your lactating breasts, and you want to balance out, you can try a few things.

  1. First, before you begin breastfeeding, take some deep breaths and massage the breast that seems to be the lower producer. This may get the milk flowing more easily.
  2. Second, begin your breastfeeding sessions on the smaller breast" when your baby is hungriest and nursing most vigorously. This may help the baby stimulate the breast to produce more milk.
  3. Third, a bit of power pumping may help. Power pumping tells your body to produce more milk. To start, add one power-pumping session to your day. You'd pump for twenty minutes, rest for ten, then pump for ten more minutes, rest again for ten, and finally, pump for another ten minutes. You might see improvements in as little as two to three days.

For more answers to common breastfeeding questions and personalized support, schedule an appointment with a certified lactation consultant through the Pacify app. Our lactation consultants are here to offer accurate info and help to breastfeeding families.

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Pacify is your ultimate resource for comprehensive support on your breastfeeding journey. Our certified Lactation Consultants are ready to offer expert guidance and solutions tailored to your unique needs. But that's not all – Pacify now brings you an added advantage with access to skilled Doulas. These experienced professionals can provide valuable insights during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, offering emotional support, evidence-based information, and personalized care. With Pacify, you can tap into the wisdom of both Lactation Consultants and Doulas, ensuring a well-rounded and holistic approach to your parenting experience. Whether it's breastfeeding guidance or doula assistance, Pacify is your trusted partner every step of the way.