Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions
Why would I need a lactation consultant? Isn't breastfeeding natural?
Although breastfeeding is natural, it is not always automatic. It can take some time before you and your baby feel comfortable. A board-certified lactation consultant is trained to help with any breastfeeding difficulties you may have. She works with your healthcare team to make sure you and your baby get off to a good start.
Do I have to do anything before the baby arrives to be able to breastfeed?
It is not necessary to prepare your nipples by "toughening" them, as once thought. Soap should not be used on your nipples, as it dries tissue and causes irritation. You and your partner may attend breastfeeding classes, read books on the subject and talk to other breastfeeding families.
Do breastfed babies feed more often than formula babies?
Breastfed babies usually feed more often than formula-fed infants, especially in the early weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your newborn be fed 8-12 times a day, which will help ensure that your breasts produce plenty of milk. Since breast milk is a living fluid, it is absorbed more completely by your baby's body and digested more quickly than formula. It is more helpful to watch your baby for signs of hunger than to watch the clock. Babies ready to nurse will root, suck their fingers or hands or "taste" the air by sticking their tongues out of their mouths. Crying is a late signal for hunger.
How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
After your milk supply is established (3-5 days), your baby should wet 5-6 diapers a day. Your baby's urine should be pale in color. If your baby does not urinate or urine is dark in color, call your pediatrician. Your baby should have 3-4 stools a day. The stools will change to a mustard-yellow color. They will be loose and may look seedy; this is not diarrhea. The key sign of diarrhea in a breastfed baby is a ring on the diaper, with most or the entire stool absorbed. Your baby's doctor weighs and measures your baby at office visits. This is reassurance that your baby is getting enough milk to grow in normal patterns.
What if breastfeeding hurts?
Breastfeeding your baby should not be a painful experience. You may have nipple tenderness in the beginning, but this should not last longer than the first week. You may also experience some tenderness when your baby first latches on--this is normal.
What if my nipples become sore?
Incorrect positioning and/or poor latch-on are the usual causes of persistently sore nipples. Decreasing the amount of time the baby breastfeeds or scheduling longer times between feedings does not prevent or heal sore nipples. If you have a problem with sore nipples, try the following self-help measures:
- Be sure your baby's body is in a side position, facing your chest, at your chest level.
- Make sure the baby's mouth is taking in enough of the areola (the dark circle around your nipple). The baby should be able to latch on to at least ½ inch of areolar tissue. The baby's tongue should be under your breast.
- The baby's upper and lower lips should be flanged outward around the areola.
- If your baby does not come off the breast on his/her own, make sure you are breaking suction by gently inserting your finger between your nipple and the baby's mouth.
- Express a few drops of breast milk and rub it into your nipple and areola. Let your nipples air dry for a few minutes after feeding.
- If nipple pain persists with corrected positioning, please call the Breastfeeding Care Center at (912) 819-8231.