I’m pregnant and looking forward to breastfeeding my baby. Is there anything I can do now to ensure a good start to my breastfeeding relationship?
- You’re already doing it! A commitment to breastfeeding is the best start you can give your nursing relationship. Becoming informed comes in as a close second. You’ll want to gather information now so you understand the basics of breastfeeding, what you can expect in the first few weeks, how to recognize any potential problems and where to get help if you need it. Your midwife or doctor might be a good place to start. If you haven’t already, find out what they expect to do with and/or to you and your baby immediately after delivery and how breastfeeding fits into that. If you’re delivering in a hospital, go on the hospital tour, pre-register and make special note of any lactation services they offer. Prepare a birth plan expressing your desire to breastfeed, including provisions in case of unexpected complications. Call your local La Leche League and get the phone number of the nearest leader to have on hand after your baby is born. While you’re on the phone, find the number of a local lactation consultant –try and get one with the initials IBCLC after her name. Get rid of any formula given to you by well-meaning friends and family or as free samples. Studies show that the simple presence of formula in the house can derail a breastfeeding relationship. And, last but not least, READ. Happy Nursing!
How soon after birth should I start nursing my baby?
- The short answer to this is “as soon as your baby wants”! Your baby is born expecting to breastfeed and you will both benefit greatly from breastfeeding as soon as she wants to. Within the first hour of your baby’s life, she will experience a period of quiet alertness that is the perfect time to introduce breastfeeding. The best place for your baby to be immediately after birth is skin-to-skin on your chest. As soon as your baby starts indicating a desire to nurse – usually by rooting or sucking on her fist – put your baby to your breast.
My baby is 3 days old and I’m not sure if my milk has come in yet – how do I know?
- In most women, their milk comes in between the second and sixth day after their babies’ birth. Everyone will experience their milk coming in differently. In some women, there’s no mistaking it – they report waking up feeling like their breasts are made of plaster. This feeling, known as engorgement, is not experienced by everyone. Some women only notice that their milk has come in when they start to leak milk. Some women notice it when they start to feel the tingly feeling in their breasts called letdown. Some women have no signs but a healthy, happy baby! It can take up to two weeks for the colostrum that was baby’s first meal to change into mature milk. As long as you feel that nursing is going well and that your baby is having the right amount of wet and dirty diapers (see your health care professional for those numbers – usually 2-3 wet diapers in the first few days increasing in number and amount each day and 1-3 dirty diapers in the first few days changing in colour from sticky and almost black to a lighter brown and becoming yellow), your milk is likely in. If you have any concerns, call your health care professional.
I’m getting worn out! My baby is 16 days old and nursing all the time – is this normal?
- Totally exhausting! And totally normal. Breastfeeding goes by the law of supply and demand. Newborns need to nurse frequently in order to signal your body to make all the milk they need. Supply and demand explains why moms with twins or triplets can make enough milk to feed all their babies. Even once you’re out of the newborn phase, your baby may nurse around the clock during a growth spurt (usually at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 6 months) or just because! Continuing to nurse your baby on demand during these periods of non-stop nursing is the best thing you can do.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
- What goes in must come out! You can get a very good idea of whether or not your baby is getting enough milk by checking out her wet and dirty diaper count (see your health care professional for information on how many of each to expect – usually 5-6 wet diapers a day and 2-5 dirty). Your baby should be nursing about 8-10 (or more!) times per 24 hours. Other signs of getting enough milk are that you can hear your baby swallowing, that she seems content when she comes off the breast and that she is alert and active when awake.
Breastfeeding has been going really well since my baby was born 12 days ago but I woke up this morning with a sore, red breast, what’s going on?
- Sounds like you have a plugged milk duct. This can happen at any time during your nursing relationship and tends to happen in women with abundant milk supplies or when nursing is interrupted for some reason (baby sleeping through the night!). Take action right away in order for this not to develop into the breast infection called mastitis. Nurse, nurse, nurse your baby! Especially on the affected side. While nursing, try massaging the area that is sore to help “loosen” up the milk in the duct and unplug the duct. Take warm showers and/or baths and massage your breast in the water. Do not wear a bra or anything tight. Go to bed with your baby and worry about nothing but nursing your baby and getting some extra rest. Should you not see improvement very soon, or should you feel feverish or have the chills, call your health care professional, you may have developed mastitis. While it will be unpleasant for you to feel crummy, it need not affect your nursing relationship. It will not harm your baby to continue nursing during your breast infection even if you must take antibiotics.
I tried to pump this morning and only got a half ounce – what am I doing wrong?
- Probably nothing. Pumping is often a learned skill and, unfortunately, some women have a hard time letting down for a pump. If you are sure that you have a decent pump (hint: nothing made by a formula company can be considered a decent pump), you probably just need to practice. Try varying the suction on your pump, looking at a picture of your baby and, above all, relaxing. Remember that what you can pump is NO indication of how much milk your baby is getting. Your baby is way more efficient than any pump.
I have postpartum depression and will be starting on an antidepressant – do I have to wean my baby?
- No, absolutely not. Most common antidepressants are fine to take while nursing – make sure you are being prescribed one that is. Continuing your nursing relationship can be an important part of dealing with PPD. Knowing that you are providing your baby with the best nutrition and the bonding and nurturing (of both of you!) that takes place at the breast has been shown to make PPD less severe and easier to recover from.
My nipples are sore! I though breastfeeding was not supposed to hurt?
- Some tenderness and soreness in the first few days is normal. Try using a pure lanolin cream to help. Anything that can be described as pain usually isn’t normal and – good news – can usually be fixed. The place to start with sore nipples is the latch. Ensuring that your baby is latched on well can make all the difference. A good latch includes flanged lips, a good portion of the areola in the mouth, the tongue over the bottom lip and the baby’s chin, but not nose, touching the breast. If you are unsure about your latch, have someone knowledgeable look at it. If the latch is good but the pain persists, it’s time to see a health professional – preferably a lactation consultant who is an IBCLC. Early treatment can speed recovery and prevent further problems. Sore nipples will heal.
My baby is 3 months old, I’ve been sick and I’m concerned about my milk supply –what can I do to increase it?
- Taking care of yourself is always a good place to start. Get enough rest, eat well and stay hydrated. Beyond those basics, there are a few tricks to boost your milk supply. Nurse often - this goes to supply and demand and often is the only trick needed. Make sure your baby is satisfying all her sucking needs at your breast. Have a nurse-in (go to bed with your baby for 24 hours and stay skin-to-skin as much as possible). Eat oatmeal (get someone to bake you oatmeal cookies – yum). Don’t give your baby anything but your milk – no juice, no water and no formula. Use breast compression to increase your baby’s intake of milk. Try adding some pumping after your baby feeds to stimulate more production. Look into getting some mother’s milk tea. This can usually be found at your health food store. While you’re there, pick up some fenugreek in capsule form. Taking three capsules three times a day can really boost your milk supply. If all else fails, you can call out the big guns and ask your health care professional for a prescription for domperidone. This is a medication and should be taken only with careful consideration so make sure you exhaust all the other measures first.
Why is my 5-month-old baby still waking to nurse at night?
- Ohhh, sleep, such a hot topic! Why is he still waking and nursing at night? Who knows! It could be many things; it could be nothing but rest assured, it is perfectly normal. Babies sleep differently than adults. Babies have shorter sleep cycles and are simply not designed to sleep through the night. As with everything, there are exceptions and some babies sleep through the night from an early age. These same babies might stop sleeping through the night at 6 months when their teeth start coming in or at 10 months when separation anxiety hits or at 2 years when nightmares begin. If you and your baby are relatively well rested and the night waking doesn’t bother you, there is no reason to do anything about it. If it does bother you, you may simply need to adjust your expectations. For more concrete coping strategies, try reading Sweet Sleep by Teresa Pitman, Linda Smith, Diana West and Diane Wiessinger. And, remember, this, too, shall pass!
My baby is 7 months old and I’m still leaking! What can I do about it?
- The good news is that you likely have a great supply of milk. The bad news is that there’s not much you can do about leaking. Wearing breast pads can prevent the telltale wet spot from appearing on your shirt. Make sure you get breast pads that are breathable and do not have plastic on them. Pressing your forearm or the heel of your hand to your breast when you feel letdown can lessen any leakage from your breast. If you’re at home, you can collect the extra milk in a cup and use it later or freeze it for a rainy day. You are likely entering the home stretch as far as leaking goes. Though not unheard of, it is a rare woman who continues to leak into her baby’s second year.
I’m a bit nervous about nursing my baby in public – do you have any tips?
- You mean besides wearing your Milkface Nursingwear?! Seriously, being prepared for nursing in public is half the battle. Wearing appropriate clothing can make things much easier. It is hard for anyone to even notice that you’re breastfeeding when you’re wearing nursingwear. Practice also makes perfect! Get comfortable nursing at home before venturing out, or make your first public nursing appearance at a friend’s house. Know your rights: Remember that you are legally allowed to nurse your baby wherever you are allowed to be. Be proud of yourself for giving your baby the best and for being a beautiful ambassador for breastfeeding.
The above is not intended to be medical advice. Please see our Terms of Service for complete information.