Breastfeeding FAQs

Whether you're deciding if breastfeeding is right for you or if you've already started breastfeeding, you're bound to have questions. 

We've put together some frequently asked questions about breastfeeding to help. 

Are there differences between breastfed and formula fed babies? 

Yes, breastfed babies are healthier. 

Will my baby be unhealthy if I don't want to breastfeed? 

No, but research shows that formal fed babies are at higher risk for some diseases than breastfed babies.

How does breastfeeding keep my baby healthy? 

Your milk has cells to keep your baby free of infections. Formula fed babies are more likely to have diarrhea, ear infections, bronchitis, meningitis, and urinary tract infections. 

What else does breastfeeding help with? 

Breastfed babies have a lower risk for SIDS and allergies. 

Studies also show that formula fed infants have a higher risk for juvenile diabetes, leukemia, and Crohn's disease. 

Breastfed babies have higher IQ and test scores.

They're less likely to be obese as teenagers. 

Is breastfeeding good for me too? 

Yes. Breastfeeding women return to their normal weight more quickly. Women who breastfeed have less postpartum bleeding. 

Over time, women who breastfeed have stronger bones and less risk of breast and ovarian cancer. 

You may have heard that breastfeeding makes your breasts sag, but this is not true. Your breasts change with pregnancy, whether you breastfeed or not. 

How will breastfeeding affect my everyday life? 

You'll have more money and time than moms who use formula because there is nothing to buy or prepare. 

You will have less garbage. 

You will give your baby emotional closeness, better eye muscle development, and straighter teeth. 

If you want to travel, you can just put some diapers in your purse and go. 

Can anyone breastfeed? 

Almost every woman can breastfeed. Very few medicines are harmful to a breastfeeding baby. Certain diseases in the mother make breastfeeding unwise. You can discuss this with your doctor and lactation consultant.

Is breastfeeding difficult? 

It can be hard at first, especially with your first baby. You will probably need some help and information. 

Which foods should avoid eating while breastfeeding? 

There aren't any foods you should avoid while breastfeeding. Eat a variety of food and eat what you like. Ask a dietitian if you need help with a food plan. 

What is the golden hour? 

The golden hour refers to the first hour of life after a baby is born.

After birth, we'll gently dry your baby and put her on your chest. Most newborns who are placed on their mother's chest after birth will breastfeed within 1 hour. 

Newborns who have skin-to-skin contact with their mother for a solid hour after birth, breastfeed better and longer. You may also make more milk. 

We recommend you continue to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby during the first 6 weeks of her life. 

When should my baby start breastfeeding? 

Your baby should have her first breastfeeding within the very first hour after birth. This is the best time for your baby to start feeding because there are so many benefits for both of you. This is also part of the golden hour and skin-to-skin contact. 

What are the benefits of breastfeeding within the golden hour? 

  • Baby gets perfect nutrients for the first hour of life.
  • Breast milk naturally keeps baby safe from infection.
  • Breastfeeding stabilizes baby's heart rate, breathing and temperature.
  • It promotes exclusive breastfeeding for a longer time.
  • It's a great time to bond with your baby.
  • It helps you relax.
  • Your body will heal faster. 
  • All newborn tests can and should wait until after the first feeding.
  • Most newborn tests can be done while baby is still on your chest (skin-to-skin). 

How often should I feed my baby? 

Feed your baby just as soon as you can after birth. After that, normal newborns eat 8 to 12 times in a day. This may be every 1 ½ to 3 hours around the clock.

Feed your baby whenever he shows signs of wanting to eat. Watch for lip smacking, turning his head toward your chest, sucking on his hands, or rapid eye movement under the eyelids. Feed him then. Crying is a late hunger cue and makes it harder to latch on.

Many babies are fussy during the evening hours and then have their longest sleep time during the night. They may sleep 3 or 4 hours. Babies are more likely to sleep longer at night if they are fed often during the day.

How long should I feed my baby on each breast?

Once your baby is latched on deeply and sucking steadily, she may stay on that breast until she releases it or loses interest. In the early days you may need you to remind your baby to keep sucking. You can squeeze your breast, tickle her feet, or rub her back to help her keep sucking.

You do not need to use both breasts at each feeding. But it may help to use both breasts in the early days to keep your baby interested in feeding. If she is more interested, she may get more to eat. In the early days, a feeding lasts 20 to 30 minutes, whether you use one or both breasts.

How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk? 

When they are new, babies do not need a lot of milk. A full feeding for a new baby is about a teaspoon. Your baby's stomach is around the size of a walnut, so breastfeeding provides the perfect amount.

If you listen closely while your baby sucks, you will hear a soft "click" in the back of his throat. This is a swallow, and he will do this about every 10 to 12 sucks the first day of his life.

The second and third day of life the baby swallows more often, about every 5 to 6 sucks. When you have more milk, you will hear a swallow with every suck. Ask your nurse to help you hear a swallow.

Your baby's diapers will also show you how much milk he is getting. You will probably see tarry bowel movements during your hospital stay. The color will slowly change to dark brown or green, then to yellow, and then to bright yellow. You may see tiny "seeds" in the diapers also. These are breastmilk curds and are common.

It is normal for your baby to have at least 2 bowel movements the first day home. This is usually day 3 of life.

Wet diapers are important. If your baby is having bowel movements, he is most likely also passing urine. Look for 3 bowel movements and a change in the color the second day home. Take home your baby's breastfeeding and diaper chart to help you keep track.

By the third day home or the 6th day of life, your baby will have 4 or 5 bowel movements and 5 or 6 wet diapers. This means that he is being fed well.

Call the Breastfeeding Clinic, Nurse Care Line, or your doctor's office if you think your baby is not getting enough milk.

How can I tell if my baby is latching correctly?

Your baby is latched correctly if your baby's mouth is opened wide around the areola of your breast and you feel a tugging but not a pinching. Have your nurse help you with latching on or talk to the Lactation Consultant.

What if I get engorged?

Engorgement is not normal, nor does it last. You can prevent it by breastfeeding early and often. Some of the firmness is milk, and some is swelling.

It is very important to relieve the engorgement by feeding the baby, hand expressing, or pumping. If the milk is not removed it will disappear. This may reduce your milk supply for a long time.

If you become engorged, try to breastfeed the baby often. If the baby cannot latch because of the engorgement, squeeze out some milk to soften your areola. Call the Breastfeeding Clinic or your doctor for help within 24 hours.

Will my nipples be sore?

Sore nipples are often the result of a shallow latch. Some mothers get sore even with a deep latch. Some tenderness is normal, especially if it eases after the first sucks.

Cracks, blisters, or bleeding are not normal. It is important to get breastfeeding help at the first sign of cracks, blisters or bleeding. Have your nurse check your baby's latch before you go home from the hospital.

Should I give bottles of formula or water until my milk is "in"? 

Your milk is "in" during the last three months of pregnancy. The small amounts of the first milk, colostrum, are important to your baby's health. Using any other food or liquid will change the chemistry of your baby's stomach and intestines.

With frequent, early feedings, your baby will get just what he needs at the time he needs it. Don't give anything other than your own milk unless there is a medical reason. 

When should I call my doctor or the Breastfeeding Clinic?

Call your health care provider or the Breastfeeding Clinic if: 

  • Your baby has no bowl movements or wet diapers the first day home.
  • Your baby does not wake for feedings at least every 3 hours. 
  • If you do not hear your baby swallowing.
  • You do not feel any fullness in your breasts.
  • You are not able to squeeze out any drops of milk from your breasts.

How do I get my baby to latch? 

Hold your baby close, with the baby's tummy touching your tummy. Hold your baby at the level of your breast. Use pillows under the baby if needed.

Support your baby at the neck and shoulders with one hand. With your other hand support your breast well behind the darker skin around your nipple (the areola). 

Tickle your baby's upper lip with your nipple and wait for baby to open wide. When the baby opens wide, bring your baby onto the breast, leading with the chin. Keep hugging your baby to you. 

Baby should take a big mouthful of breast, not just the nipple. This helps baby get more milk. 

The suckling should feel comfortable. If it feels painful for more than a few seconds, place your finger into the baby's mouth to break the suction. Baby may then open his mouth wider and get a better latch.

You can breastfeed with your baby across your chest, tucked under your arm, beside you, or lying on you in the laid-back nursing position.  

Should I give my breastfed baby formula or pacifiers? 

No. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do not feed formula to babies that are breastfed for the following reasons:

  • The way babies suck bottles and pacifiers is different from how they breastfeed. This can lead to problems with latching and sore nipples. 
  • Mothers who feed formula or use a pacifier during their baby's first weeks often have less milk. These moms may quit breastfeeding sooner. 
  • Just one feeding of formula can change how your baby digests food for 4 weeks.
  • Breast milk helps protect your baby from infection. Formula gets in the way of that natural protection.
  • Studies show that not breastfeeding can increase the risk of your baby getting allergies, cancer, juvenile diabetes and obesity.

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