Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Breastfeeding frequently asked questionsBreastfeeding is a natural process but also complex. Each mom and baby’s needs are different, so feel free to speak up when you need help. Reading our answers to frequently asked questions is a good start. Common breastfeeding questions include:
What’s important to know about breast milk?Your body produces milk naturally, but it occurs in stages. Shortly after birth, breasts release colostrum, a thick substance rich in nutrients. Within your baby’s first weeks of life, your body produces mature milk, which is thinner. This milk’s nutritional content adjusts to meet your newborn’s changing needs.
When should I start breastfeeding?Within a few minutes of birth, babies often want to start nursing. These early feedings are an excellent opportunity to help your baby make a proper latch and experiment with breastfeeding positions.
Will breastfeeding hurt?
Breastfeeding typically doesn’t hurt. However, your nipples may be sensitive when you first start. You may also experience breast fullness as your body starts producing breast milk.
Pain could be a sign of complications, such as inflamed breast tissue (mastitis) or cracked nipples. Both conditions are treatable and don’t have to get in the way of breastfeeding.
How will I know when to feed my baby?
Newborn hunger cues help you know when your baby is ready to nurse. They often occur before your little one starts crying. Offering a breast when you first notice your baby is hungry can make nursing easier.
Newborn hunger cues include:
- Fist gnawing
- Head turning, which is a sign your baby is looking for a breast
- Lip smacking
- Opening and closing their mouth
Is it possible to have a set breastfeeding schedule?Your baby’s nutritional needs frequently change, including how long and often they wish to nurse. These factors can make it challenging to establish a breastfeeding schedule. But it’s possible to maintain a routine. This may involve certain breastfeeding positions, bonding activities like gazing at each other and a diaper change after feeding.
How will I know my baby is getting enough milk?
A newborn’s stomach is small and it won’t take much at first for them to feel full. Even if feedings are short, chances are good your baby is getting enough milk.
Indications your baby is getting enough to eat include:
- Consistently wet and soiled diapers
- Frequent feedings, up to 12 times a day for newborns
- Gaining weight
- Nursing for as long and often as your baby would like
Breastfeeding has been really challenging. Should I keep trying?If you wish to breastfeed your baby, you should stick with it. The first weeks can be frustrating because there is so much to learn. But there are many potential solutions to the challenges you are facing. If you feel stuck, contact a lactation consultant. We can provide support over the phone, and you may be eligible for an in-person visit, if necessary.
If I take medication for a chronic condition, should I worry about its effects on breast milk?Research shows it’s safe for breastfeeding women to continue taking many types of medications. If you have concerns, the team includes an obstetrician with certification in breastfeeding and lactation. They can confirm the drug is safe and, if not, what your options are.
Can I keep breastfeeding once I go back to work?You’ll likely need to pump to maintain milk supply while you are away from your baby for extended periods. By law, your employer must offer a reasonable break schedule to support breastfeeding or pumping. It may take some trial and error to come up with a routine that works for you. Lactation consultants can help you come up with a plan.
If I’m pumping, what’s important to know about breast milk storage?
Breast milk that’s not consumed right away can become contaminated, making your baby severely ill. Properly preparing and storing milk lowers this risk.
Breast milk storage guidelines include:
- Washing your hands before using a breast pump or preparing breast milk
- Storing milk in a refrigerator and using or freezing it within four days
- Never refreezing previously frozen and thawed breast milk
- Using sterilized milk storage bags or food-grade containers