While there are many benefits to breastfeeding for mom and baby, it may not always come easy. You're not alone, Momma. Here are the 4 most common breastfeeding questions, answered by Katie Coyne, MS, IBCLC, with Stork Maternity Consulting.
“Does breastfeeding hurt?”
It is normal to experience discomfort or soreness for the first week or so. If you feel some pain when the baby initially latches, count down from 30 and take a few deep breaths. If it still hurts, take your baby off the breast and try again. Intolerable pain or damage to your nipples is not a good thing! It means the baby probably isn’t latching very well.
This is where a lactation consultant comes into play. Minor adjustments to your positioning techniques and an assessment of the baby’s latch should fix your issue within 24-48 hours. Ask for help -- we don’t want you to be in pain!
“When do I need to call a lactation consultant?”
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant is an excellent person to have on speed dial. No one tells you how hard breastfeeding can be.
Try learning a new skill while being sleep deprived -- it’s hard!
My best advice is to not wait until things are unbearable. We are here to help you. If you just need phone counseling, a Skype call, or a home visit, an IBCLC should be able to coach you through your issues and offer you follow up. With Stork, we provide home visits and do a pre-and post-feed-weight. This tells us how much your baby is taking at the breast and will help us create a care plan for you.
If you ever feel you aren’t making enough milk, need help with latch and position, or if you just need some encouragement, a visit or phone call from an IBCLC may be all you need to meet your breastfeeding goals.
“How do I know my baby is getting enough?”
One of the biggest concerns breastfeeding moms have is, “how do I know if I am making enough milk?” Worrying about not having enough milk is one of the main reasons that women stop breastfeeding. It can be really hard to trust that your body is making enough for your baby, so how do you rest assured knowing that your baby is growing and eating enough?
The basics of supply and demand apply to the science of breastmilk production. The more your baby nurses, the more breastmilk you will make. Also, the better your baby empties the breast, the more milk you will make. So what does this really mean?
During the early weeks, it is crucial to feed your baby every time they show hunger cues (like rooting, clenched fingers and fists over chest and tummy, sucking noises, and mouthing). This gives your baby more time at the breast and tells your body to make more milk. Also, don’t limit the amount of time your baby spends nursing. Allow your baby to nurse until they are showing signs of fullness—going by the clock can hurt your milk supply. Think about it: sometimes you are hungry for a giant Thanksgiving feast and other times you just want a snack. Babies are the same way! This is why it is best to let them control how long they eat.
“When can I start pumping and offering breastmilk in a bottle?”
This one is hard to answer because everyone is different. We want breastfeeding to be going well before mom starts pumping and offering a bottle, but we don’t want to wait too long, either. Baby rejecting a bottle can be stressful on mom, especially if she is going back to work.
Around 3 weeks, breastfeeding may be much easier. If this is the case, start by pumping right after baby nurses first thing in the morning. You can use this milk to offer it in a bottle. Also, have someone other than mom offer the bottle. This is the perfect job for dad, partner, or grandma! If mom offers the bottle, your baby knows she has it “on tap” and will be less likely to take the bottle from her.
You don’t have to give the bottle every day or even regularly. It’s your choice how often to offer it. If the baby doesn’t like the bottle, don’t stress. Try again in a couple of days and if that doesn’t work, try a new bottle.
Be sure to check out Part II: There are tons of myths about milk production, but what are the facts? We talk about the main myths and facts lactation consultants provide guidance on in part II of our Breastfeeding Questions Answered series.
What questions can we help you answer through our network of professionals? You can email [email protected] or you can post your comments below.