Breastfeeding FAQ | MamaMend

Breastfeeding

Frequently Asked Questions

+
How do I get my baby to latch on properly?
Here are some tips to help your baby’s latch:
  • Tickle the baby’s lips to encourage him or her to open wide.
  • Pull your baby close so that the chin and lower jaw moves into your breast first.
  • Watch the lower lip and aim it as far from base of nipple as possible, so the baby takes a large mouthful of breast.
+
Which position is best for breastfeeding?

Some moms find that the following positions are helpful ways to get comfortable and support their babies while breastfeeding. You also can use pillows under your arms, elbows, neck, or back to give you added comfort and support. Keep trying different positions until you are comfortable. What works for one feeding may not work for the next feeding.

  • CLUTCH OR “FOOTBALL” HOLD: useful if you have had a C-section, or if you have large breasts, flat or inverted nipples, or a strong let-down reflex. This hold is also helpful for babies who like to be in a more upright position when they feed. Hold your baby at your side with the baby lying on his or her back and with his or her head at the level of your nipple. Support your baby’s head by placing the palm of your hand at the base of his or her head.
  • CROSS-CRADLE OR TRANSITIONAL HOLD: useful for premature babies or babies with a weak suck because this hold gives extra head support and may help the baby stay latched. Hold your baby along the area opposite from the breast you are using. Support your baby’s head at the base of his or her neck with the palm of your hand. CRADLE HOLD: an easy, common hold that is comfortable for most mothers and babies. Hold your baby with his or her head on your forearm and his or her body facing yours.
  • LAID-BACK HOLD (STRADDLE HOLD): a more relaxed, baby-led approach. Lie back on a pillow. Lay your baby against your body with your baby’s head just above and between your breasts. Gravity and an instinct to nurse will guide your baby to your breast. As your baby searches for your breast, support your baby’s head and shoulders but don’t force the latch.
  • SIDE-LYING POSITION: useful if you have had a C-section, but also allows you to rest while the baby breastfeeds. Lie on your side with your baby facing you. Pull your baby close so your baby faces your body.
+
How can I ease the pain of breastfeeding?

Many moms say their breasts feel tender when they first start breastfeeding. A mother and her baby need time to find comfortable breastfeeding positions and a good latch. If breastfeeding hurts, your baby may be sucking on only the nipple. Gently break your baby’s suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth. Then try again to get your baby to latch on. To find out whether your baby is sucking only on your nipple, check what your nipple looks like when it comes out of your baby’s mouth. Your nipple should not look flat or compressed. It should look round and long or the same shape it was before the feeding.

+
How often should I feed my newborn?

Early and often! Newborns usually need to nurse at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours. This also helps make sure you will make plenty of milk. Healthy babies develop their own feeding patterns. Follow your baby’s cues for when he or she is ready to eat.

+
Can I breastfeed and bottle feed my baby at the same time?

If your goal is to breastfeed, it is generally best to wait to introduce a bottle or pacifier until after breastfeeding is established (usually around 3-4 weeks).

+
How long do you feed on each breast?

There is no set time for feedings. They may be 15 to 20 minutes per breast. They may be shorter or longer. Your baby will let you know when he or she is finished feeding. If you worry that your baby is not getting enough milk, talk to your baby’s doctor.

+
How long should I breastfeed?

Many leading health organizations recommend that most infants breastfeed for at least 12 months, with exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. This means that babies are not given any foods or liquids other than breastmilk for the first six months.

+
How long does the average mom breastfeed?

Here are some current breastfeeding rates for the US:

Ever83.2%
At 6 months57.6%
At 1 year35.9%
Exclusively through 3 months46.9%
Exclusively through 6 months24.9%

The average length of breastfeeding is 17 weeks in the US.

+
How do I wean my breastfed baby?

Weaning should be gradual, so your breasts don’t become painfully engorged.

  • If your baby is still very young, you may need to express some milk from your breasts or pump a tiny amount if your breasts become uncomfortable. Do not express or pump the amount you normally would for a feeding. When you pump or nurse, your breasts make more milk in response. By removing less milk than normal, your breasts will make less milk. Contact an IBCLC if you have overly full breasts while weaning.
  • You will need to substitute your milk with formula if your baby is younger than 1 year. If your baby is older than 1 year, you can stop offering the breast and drop one feeding a time, over several weeks.
  • Start by taking away his or her least favorite feeding first. Nursing sessions that come before falling asleep or after waking are often the ones to go last. Wait a few days to drop another feeding.
  • Avoid sitting in your special nursing chair, but do offer extra cuddles or babywearing during this transition so your child can still enjoy being close to you.
  • Distract your child with an activity or outing during the times when you would normally nurse.
  • If your baby likes to nurse to sleep, try a car ride or let your partner do the bedtime routine.
  • Remember, even if you and your child are ready to wean, it can be hard emotionally on both of you. Give your baby lots of extra love and attention during this time.
+
How can I increase my milk supply?
  • Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well.
  • Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding. If your baby does not empty the breast, try pumping afterward. The more often you empty your breasts, the more milk your breasts will make.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding. Have your baby stay at the first breast as long as he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when the baby slows down or stops.
  • Try to avoid giving your baby formula or cereal in addition to your breastmilk. Otherwise, your baby may lose interest in your breastmilk, and your milk supply will then decrease. If you need to supplement your baby’s feedings, try using a spoon, syringe, cup, or dropper filled with breastmilk.
  • Limit or stop your baby’s use of a pacifier while, at the same time, trying the above tips.
  • Check with your doctor for health issues, such as hormonal issues or primary breast insufficiency, if the above steps don’t help.

Low milk supply

Most mothers can make plenty of milk for their babies. But many mothers worry about having enough milk. Checking your baby’s weight and growth is the best way to make sure he gets enough milk. Let your baby’s doctor know if you are concerned.

There may be times when you think your supply is low, but it is actually just fine.

  • When your baby is around 6 weeks to 2 months old, your breasts may no longer feel full. This is normal. (It’s also normal for some women to never experience “full” breasts.) At the same time, your baby may nurse for only a short time, such as five minutes at each feeding. These are not signs of a lower milk supply. The mother’s body adjusts to meet the needs of her baby, and the baby gets very good at getting milk from the breast. It’s also normal for your baby to continue to nurse for 10 or 15 minutes on each breast at each feeding or to prefer one breast over the other. Each baby is different.
  • Growth spurts can cause your baby to want to nurse longer and more often. These growth spurts can happen when your baby is around 2 to 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months of age. Growth spurts can also happen at any time. Don’t be worried that your milk supply is too low to satisfy your baby. Follow your baby’s lead. Nursing more often will help build up your milk supply. Once your supply increases, you will likely be back to your usual routine.
What you can do
  • Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well.
  • Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding. If your baby does not empty the breast, try pumping afterward. The more often you empty your breasts, the more milk your breasts will make.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding. Have your baby stay at the first breast as long as he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when the baby slows down or stops.
  • Try to avoid giving your baby formula or cereal in addition to your breastmilk. Otherwise, your baby may lose interest in your breastmilk, and your milk supply will then decrease. If you need to supplement your baby’s feedings, try using a spoon, syringe, cup, or dropper filled with breastmilk.
  • Limit or stop your baby’s use of a pacifier while, at the same time, trying the above tips.
  • Check with your doctor for health issues, such as hormonal issues or primary breast insufficiency, if the above steps don’t help.

Engorgement

It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier, and a little tender when they begin making milk. Sometimes, this fullness may turn into engorgement, which is when your breasts feel hard and painful. You also may have breast swelling, tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, and flattening of the nipple. Engorgement sometimes also causes a low-grade fever and can be confused with a breast infection. Engorgement is the result of the milk building up. It usually happens during the third to fifth day after giving birth. But it can happen at any time, especially if you are not feeding your baby or expressing your milk often. Engorgement can lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection, so it is important to try to prevent it before this happens. If treated, engorgement should fix itself.

What you can do
  • Breastfeed often after giving birth. As long as your baby is latched on and sucking well, allow your baby to nurse for as long as she likes.
  • Work with a lactation consultant to improve your baby’s latch.
  • Breastfeed often on the affected side to remove the milk, keep the milk moving freely, and prevent your breast from becoming overly full.
  • Avoid using pacifiers or bottles to supplement feedings.
  • Hand express or pump a little milk to first soften the breast, areola, and nipple before breastfeeding.
  • Massage the breast.
  • Use cold compresses on your breast in between feedings to help ease the pain.
  • If you plan to return to work, try to pump your milk as often as your baby breastfed at home. Be sure to not let more than four hours pass between pumping sessions.
  • Get enough rest, proper nutrition, and fluids.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.
  • Try reverse pressure softening to make the areola soft around the base of the nipple and help your baby latch. Press inward toward the chest wall and count slowly to 50. Use steady and firm pressure, but gentle enough to avoid pain. You may need to repeat each time you breastfeed for a few days.

Plugged ducts

Plugged ducts are common in breastfeeding mothers. A plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast. You should not have a fever or other symptoms. A plugged duct happens when a milk duct does not drain properly. Pressure then builds up behind the plug, and surrounding tissue gets inflamed. A plugged duct usually happens in one breast at a time.If your plugged duct doesn’t loosen up, ask for help from a lactation consultant. Plugged ducts can lead to a breast infection.

What you can do
  • Breastfeed on the affected side as often as every two hours. This will help loosen the plug and keep your milk moving freely.
  • Aim your baby’s chin at the plug. This will focus his suck on the duct that is affected.
  • Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
  • Use a warm compress on the sore area.
  • Get extra sleep, or relax with your feet up to help speed healing. Often a plugged duct is a sign that a mother is doing too much.
  • Wear a well-fitting supportive bra that is not too tight, since this can constrict milk ducts. Consider trying a bra without underwire.
  • If you have plugged ducts that keep coming back, seek help from an IBCLC.

Breast Infection (Mastitis)

Mastitis is soreness or a lump in the breast. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms, such as feeling run down or very achy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowish discharge from the nipple that looks like colostrum
  • Breasts feel warm or hot to the touch and appear pink or red

A breast infection can happen when other family members have a cold or the seasonal flu. It usually only happens in one breast. It is not always easy to tell the difference between a breast infection and a plugged duct. They have similar symptoms and can improve within 24 to 48 hours. Some breast infections that do not improve within this time period need to be treated with medicine from your doctor.

What you can do
  • Breastfeed on the affected side every two hours or more often. This will keep the milk moving freely and your breast from becoming overly full.
  • Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
  • Apply heat to the sore area with a warm compress.
  • Get extra sleep, or relax with your feet up to help speed healing. Often a breast infection is a sign that a mother is doing too much and becoming overly tired.
  • Wear a well-fitting supportive bra that is not too tight, since this can constrict milk ducts. Ask your doctor for help if you do not feel better within 24 hours of trying these tips, if you have a fever, or if your symptoms worsen. You might need medicine.
See your doctor right away if
  • You have a breast infection in which both breasts look affected.
  • There is pus or blood in your breastmilk.
  • You have red streaks near the affected area of the breast.
  • Your symptoms came on severely and suddenly. Also, talk with your doctor about any medicines you take or plan to take.

Fungal infection (Thrush)

A fungal infection, also called a yeast infection or thrush, can form on your nipples or in your breast. This type of infection thrives on milk and forms from an overgrowth of the Candida organism. Candida lives in our bodies and is kept healthy by the natural bacteria in our bodies. When the natural balance of bacteria is upset, Candida can overgrow, causing an infection.

Signs of a fungal infection include:

  • Nipple soreness that lasts more than a few days, even after your baby has a good latch
  • Pink, flaky, shiny, itchy, or cracked nipples
  • Deep pink and blistered nipples
  • Achy breasts
  • Shooting pains deep in the breast during or after feedings
What you can do

Fungal infections may take several weeks to clear up, so it is important to follow these tips to avoid spreading the infection:

  • Change disposable nursing pads often.
  • Wash any towels or clothing that come in contact with the yeast in very hot water (above 122°F).
  • Wear a clean bra every day.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Wash your baby’s hands often, especially if he sucks on his fingers.
  • Boil all pacifiers, bottle nipples, or toys your baby puts in her mouth every day. After one week of treatment, throw away all pacifiers and nipples and buy new ones.
  • Boil all breast pump parts that touch your milk every day.
  • Make sure other family members are free of thrush or other fungal infections. If they have symptoms, make sure they get treated.