Breastfeeding is the optimal method of feeding your baby. During your pregnancy share with your  doctor and your hospital your plans to breastfeed.

If you need breastfeeding help you can always contact your health care provider or the hospital where you delivered. In addition you can find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

La Leche League is an international organization providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed.

Also consider contacting the Women Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program in your area to see if you qualify. WIC provides extensive breastfeeding support.

Breastfeeding FAQs

Can I breastfeed if my baby is premature?

Yes, breast milk is good for premature babies.

How do I know if my breast milk provides enough food for my baby?

In the first few days after birth, your breasts produce a special substance called colostrum that provides complete nutrition for your baby.  In a few days, your milk will come in.  You can tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk if she has loose, bright yellow bowel movements by day 5.  Breast milk is all a baby needs for the first 6 months of life.  Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary food for 12 months and as long after as mom and baby desire.

How often do I need to feed my baby?

During the early weeks of breastfeeding, breastfeed 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.  Nurse whenever your baby shows early signs of hunger (increased alertness, physical activity, mouthing, rooting).

What do I do if my breasts become swollen and tender?

When your milk comes in after birth, full breasts are normal. Engorgement is when the fullness causes discomfort or pain. Engorgement usually lasts less than 24 hours. If this happens, you should:

  • Breastfeed more
  • If your baby does not nurse long enough to soften both breasts, hand express or pump milk after nursing
  • Apply cold compresses (a bag of frozen peas works well) between feedings until swelling begins to subside
  • Use a pump to relieve the pressure

What do I do about sore nipples?

Nipples most often get sore when baby is poorly positioned during feedings or is incorrectly latched on.  Be sure your baby is taking as much areola into her mouth as possible.  If your nipples do get sore, it helps to:

  • Get help with the latch and position
  • Breastfeed on the least painful side first
  • Coat your nipples with breast milk or lanolin after feedings and let them air dry

Can I continue to breastfeed if I get mastitis?

Yes, you should continue to breastfeed.  Mastitis is an infection in the breast.  Breastfeeding will empty the affected breast, which is important in treating mastitis.  Contact your doctor if you have breast pain and flu-like achiness and fever.

How do I know if I have enough breast milk?

The most common causes of milk supply problems are infrequent feedings and/or poor latch-on and positioning. A mother can increase her breast milk supply by breastfeeding more frequently and for a longer time. A baby needs to have a good latch on the breast to get the milk the mother has produced. Often a mother who thinks she is not producing enough milk has started giving formula to her baby. For every ounce of formula the baby receives the mother then produces less breast milk. It is important to have your health care provider weigh your baby – this is one way to know if baby is getting enough breast milk.

Does my baby need water?

Breast milk provides all the water a baby needs even in hot weather. The foremilk or first milk in a feeding has more water than later in the feeding and satisfies thirst. At six months of age it is okay to offer water in a cup to the breastfed baby.

Is pumping a good way to tell how much breast milk I am producing?

Pumping breast milk depends on a number of factors and does not mimic a baby at the breast.  A baby breastfeeding directly at the breast with a good latch is more efficient than pumping.  Pumping does not tell how much breast milk is produced.  Pumping only tells how much breast milk the mother was able to pump.

Is it okay to breastfeed when I (the mother) am ill?

Continuing to breastfeed while the mother is ill often provides the baby with protective antibodies to the mother’s illness.  By the time a mother has a cough, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting she has already exposed the baby to the illness and the best protection for the baby is continued breastfeeding.

Should I stop breastfeeding if the baby is ill?

Breastfeeding provides comfort and is the best source of nutrition for a sick baby.

My breasts are small, will I be able to produce enough breast milk?

Breast milk production is not related to the size of the mother’s breasts.  Women with all sizes of breasts are able to breastfeed.

If my nipples are flat or inverted will I be able to breastfeed?

Mothers with flat or inverted nipples can breastfeed. Attaining a good latch is very important. A good latch is a deep asymmetrical latch with the baby’s top lip close to the nipple and the bottom lip farther away from the nipple on the areola. Babies breastfeed on the breast, not the nipple and it is not necessary for the nipple to protrude for the baby to latch and breastfeed.

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