The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of baby’s life. From 6 months to one year, breast milk should remain the main source of calories while solids are introduced.
While it is the normal way to feed babies, breastfeeding does sometimes take a little learning, for mom and for baby. If you are having any problems with breastfeeding, or if you simply have questions, East Suburban Pediatrics offers the services of an in-office lactation consultant. Call us or send us a Patient Portal message with any questions or to schedule an appointment with our lactation consultant.
How often should my baby be breastfeeding?
- Newborns typically nurse about every 1 ½ to 2 hours around the clock. But your baby will have his or her own pattern. Follow your baby’s hunger cues and nurse when he shows signs of hunger. Let him nurse as long as he wants on the first side, then offer the other side. If he’s still hungry, he will eat more.
- It’s not unusual for newborns to practice “cluster feeding” occasionally – periods of the day when he wants to nurse every hour or to be constantly attached to the breast.
- During the first few weeks as your milk supply is getting established, you should wake your baby if he goes longer than 3 hours without nursing.
- All babies have days when they nurse more frequently.
When will my milk come in?
- Expect your milk to “come in” 3 to 5 days after the birth. This swelling should resolve in a day or so. Frequent nursing is the best way to relieve engorgement.
- If your breasts are painfully engorged, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers, as needed. Try ice for 20 minutes at a time between feedings. Sometimes a warm compress right before a feeding will soften the breast enough to help baby latch and may get milk flowing.
- You can also pump before attempting to put your baby to the breast – this will soften the areola, help the nipple stand out, and get the milk flowing.
- If you need to pump between feedings to relieve the pressure, only pump to comfort. Pumping too long may cause you to make too much milk and may prolong your engorgement.
How will I know if my baby is getting enough?
- Your baby should be nursing 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
- You’ll know he’s getting enough if he is having at least 3 yellow, possible seedy bowel movements per day after day 4. In addition, he should have 5 to 6 heavy, wet diapers each day after day 4.
- While he may lose a little weight in the first few days, he should return to his birthweight by 10 to 14 days and will gain ½ ounce to 1 ounce per day after.
- You should hear your baby swallowing during feedings, and he will either fall asleep or come off the breast on his own when he’s done. Your breasts should feel fuller before a feeding and softer after a feeding – especially in the first few weeks.
What if my baby won’t latch?
- Feed the baby: Expressed breastmilk would be the next best thing to direct breastfeeding, and formula should only be used if absolutely necessary. Always offer the breast first before a bottle.
- Protect your milk supply: Pump every 2 hours or as often as your baby is eating.
- Spend time skin to skin as much as possible.
- Work with a lactation consultant and your pediatrician to be sure your baby is getting enough to eat and your milk supply is adequate. Rule out any possible medical causes of latch issues.
- Get the best positioning possible – support your baby and your breast, keep your baby in close to your body, and try position changes if baby won’t latch on the one you start with.
- Consider a nipple shield as a last resort.
What if it hurts?
- Some moms experience mild nipple pain in the first week of feeding. Severe nipple pain, however, is a sign that some adjustments may need to be made.
- In order to prevent nipple soreness, get the best latch you can. Make sure you are comfortable. Keep your baby’s head at breast level, and make sure the rest of his body is well-supported. His tummy should be against mom’s body. Support the breast with one hand while latching, and throughout the feed if necessary.
- With your nipple opposite baby’s nose, tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple, wait for a wide open mouth, and bring baby in for a tight latch (support his neck with your fingers, and use the heel of your hand to press his shoulder blades toward your body). His nose may be touching your breast, and his chin should be buried in breast tissue. His neck should be extended (no chin-to-chest) so he can transfer milk well.Most of the time small adjustments in positioning and latch can make a big difference in your comfort.
Ideas for Healing Sore Nipples:
- Get help with getting a good latch
- Use a barrier cream, such as lanolin, coconut oil or olive oil after every feeding
- Try a saline rinse: dissolve ¼ tsp. salt in 4 ounces of warm water. Apply to the nipple with a cotton ball, or fill a teacup with the saline solution and soak the nipple.
- Allow your nipples to air dry after feedings
- Try hydrogel dressings made especially for breastfeeding moms
- If nothing is working, consider prescription All Purpose Nipple Ointment