Question: Breastfeeding is hard and I’m exhausted. When will it get easier?
Answer: Breastfeeding, like any new skill, takes time to learn and master. This is true for you and for your baby. Most moms report that it takes about 3-4 weeks to truly feel like they know what they are doing. In fact, studies show that the “learning curve” for breastfeeding is about 4 weeks and that moms who are breastfeeding actually get more sleep during the 1st year when compared to moms who are bottle-feeding. This may not seem possible in the early days, but hang in there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and reach out to other moms who have traveled this road ahead of you. Find a breastfeeding support group like Baby Cafe and stay in touch with your lactation consultant. You are not alone in this journey. Good Luck!
Question: Can I express colostrum for my baby while I am pregnant?
Answer: Some newborn babies are at risk for hypoglycemia in the first days of life. Antenatal colostrum collection is sometimes suggested to decrease the risk of formula supplementation in those babies. It is ok to begin collecting colostrum after 36 weeks gestation, with the approval of your OBGYN and with education on collection and storage of colostrum by your IBCLC. Your IBCLC can also teach you how to correctly hand express. It is usually advised to limit the time spent collecting colostrum to about 5-10 minutes, twice per day. It is also recommended that you stop hand expressing if it causes uterine contractions. Other suggestions for decreasing the risk of hypoglycemia in the 1st days of life include; skin to skin care, delaying bathing the baby, and breastfeeding on demand. Click here for more information and instructions.
Question: Can I have an alcoholic drink while I’m breastfeeding?
Answer: Yes, it is ok for breastfeeding mothers to have an occasional alcoholic beverage. However, frequent or excessive amounts of alcohol should be avoided. A good rule is; if you are feeling the effects of the alcohol (feeling a buzz or intoxicated) then you should avoid breastfeeding until the effects wear off. Once the effects have worn-off, it is safe to breastfeed.
Question: I’m not feeling well, can I continue to breastfeed?
Answer: Yes, you should continue to breastfeed when you are sick. In fact, when you are sick, your body begins building an immune response that is passed through your breast milk to protect your baby.
Question: How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?
Answer: Babies who are eating enough will pee, poop, and gain weight. It is normal for babies to lose weight in the 1st 3 days, but once mom’s milk is in, babies will begin gaining about 1oz per day (or 5 oz per week) during the 1st 4 months. They will double their birth weight by 4-6 months and will triple their birth weight by the time they are 1 year old. Additionally, babies who are eating enough will show feeding interest and will feed 8-12 times per day.
Question: When can my baby have a pacifier?
Answer: You should wait until your baby is about 4 weeks old before offering a pacifier. Giving a pacifier too early can interfere with your milk supply and you might miss some of your baby’s early feeding cues. During the first month, all of your baby’s suckling should be done at the breast.
Question: Can I breastfeed my baby too much?
Answer: No. You don’t need to worry about overfeeding your breastfed baby. Babies are smart. They can suckle to remove milk when they are hungry (nutritive suckling) and they can suckle for comfort (non-nutritive suckling). Both nutritive and non-nutritive suckling are beneficial and important for moms and babies.
Question: How often should I feed my baby?
Answer: Babies should breastfeed 8-12 times per day. Some of those feedings will be close together and others will be more spaced out (hopefully at night). It is best to watch for feeding cues as a sign to feed rather than watching the clock.
Question: I smoke. Can I still breastfeed?
Answer: Yes. In fact, if you smoke, you should breastfeed! Babies who are exposed to 2nd or 3rd hand smoke are at a greater risk of SIDS death. Breastfeeding your baby can help reduce that risk.
Question: When will my milk come in?
Answer: Your body begins producing colostrum about halfway through your pregnancy and that’s what your baby will eat during the first 2-3 days. You should notice your breasts are fuller and heavier on day 3. If you do not notice a difference in the way your breasts look and feel by 72 hours after delivery, contact your Lactation Consultant.
Question: My baby is 2 days old and has lost weight. Is this normal?
Answer: Most babies lose weight until mom’s milk comes in on day 3. If your baby is breastfeeding well on day 1 and 2, the weight loss probably won’t exceed about 7% of baby’s birth weight. Weight loss greater than 7% may indicate that baby isn’t breastfeeding effectively yet.
A Lactation Consultant can assess the situation, determine if there is a concern, and assist, as needed. Once your milk is in, your baby should not lose any additional weight, and should begin to gain about 1 ounce per day or 5 ounces per week during the next 3-4 months.
Question: My mom didn’t make enough milk. Will I make enough milk?
Answer: Most women make enough milk to breastfeed their babies. If they are not making enough milk, a Lactation Consultant can help identify the reason and provide assistance to correct the issue. More often, moms believe they don’t have enough milk when there is another explanation for what is occurring.
Question: Is it ok to share breast milk?
Answer: Mothers have been milk-sharing throughout time. Additionally, the World Health Organization states that if a mother’s own milk is unavailable, then the milk from another woman is the next best thing.
Pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank is the safest option but is not always obtainable. Informal milk-sharing sites such as human milk 4 human babies and Eats on Feets offer mothers who have extra milk an opportunity to share with families in their community are unable to otherwise provide enough human milk for their babies. These online communities also offer information on safe handling and sharing of human milk so that families are able to make an informed decision.