Breastfeeding Mothers’ Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of Nursing Mothers’ Counselors most frequently asked breastfeeding questions.
You may click on any of the below questions to be taken to that particular segment.
Please remember to call or email us, if you cannot find the answers you are looking for below.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
This can be a real concern for new parents. The first day or two after birth, the baby may not nurse vigorously at each feeding and may only wet and dirty a few diapers. During the first week you will use more diapers each day. You may print out and use this Breastfeeding Record for the first week to get a better idea of how often your baby should be feeding as well as the number of wet and soiled diapers to expect each day. Contact your Nursing Mothers’ counselor or Lactation Consultant (see contacts) with any questions or concerns.
What can I do for breast fullness and engorgement?
Around the second to fourth day after birth, your breasts may feel swollen, heavy and uncomfortable for a day or two as the amount of milk increases, Until your body knows your baby’s needs, you may be extra full. This is normal fullness. Simply nurse your baby to relieve it. However, if nursing alone is not enough, you can try any of the following:
- Take a warm shower before feedings.
- Hand express in the shower to soften your breast for better latch on.
- Gently massage the breast while baby is nursing.
- Use ice packs after feedings for comfort – frozen peas and corn work well.
- If your breast is too full for baby to latch on or if baby is too sleepy to latch onto the breast, you need to pump some milk out, this can be done by hand in the shower or with a pump. This will not cause you to make too much milk. Contact your Nursing Mother’s Counselor or Lactation Consultant (see Contacts) for further assistance.
When should I introduce a bottle?
If baby is nursing well, you may introduce a bottle around 3 weeks. Choosing a nipple that closely resembles the breast should help reduce the risk of nipple confusion. If your baby needs to be supplemented for medical reasons prior to this point, please ask your Nursing mothers’ Counselor or Lactation Consultant (see Contacts) to teach you how to cup feed, finger feed or use a tube feeding device.
How will I know if I have a plugged duct or Mastitis (breast infection)?
If you have a plugged duct the area will feel warm and tender with a small lump. Use any or all of the following to treat a plugged duct:
- Massage gently from behind the plug working over it toward the nipple, especially while baby is nursing.
- Put warm soaks on the plug.
- Nurse baby with his/her chin pointing toward the plug.
A breast infection, mastitis, may develop if a plug is not relieved or if nipples are cracked and bacteria enter. The breast will feel hot, painful, and may be swollen. you will feel achy, like you have the flu. you may also develop a fever. As soon as you recognize mastitis, you should:
- Go to bed with baby. Allow him/her to nurse frequently.
- Get lots of rest and drink healthy fluids.
- You may put warm soaks on the infected breast.
- For pain and fever, contact your physician regarding the possible need for antibiotics and/or pain medication.
How long can I store breast milk?
Your milk should be refrigerated as soon as possible after pumping. Your milk may also be frozen. Freshly pumped milk should be chilled prior to adding to milk that has already been frozen so as not to thaw the frozen milk. If your baby was born premature, you should freeze any milk that will not be used within 24 hours. For full term babies, you may refer to the following guidelines:
- You may refrigerate your milk up to three (3-4) days; but if you plan to freeze it, do so within 48 hours.
- Label and date each container of stored milk with the expiration date.
- Store your milk in the freezer section of a refrigerator for up to three (3-4) months. Do not put the milk on the freezer door or by the defrost unit.
- In a deep freezer that stays at 0 degrees or below, milk can be stored up to six (6) months.
your milk can be thawed in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Your milk may also be thawed in a pan or mug of warm water.
- Do not heat your milk on the stove or in a microwave.
- Thawed milk that is warmed and unused needs to be thrown out.
What do I need to know about pumping?
Providing human milk is very important to your baby’s health. You are the only one able to provide your baby with this special milk. your baby will benefit from any amounts you can collect. Providing your own milk allows you to care for your baby in a special and unique way. You may refer to our Pumping Your Milk (WHAT WAS THIS LINK?) guidelines for more in depth information regarding pumping.
When I should start weaning?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding is baby’s only food for about six months. After six months they recommend introducing table foods with mother’s milk continuing to be baby’s main source of nutrition for at least the first year. Babies often continue to nurse for the first several years. This offers many health benefits to mother and child. Weaning is best done gradually. If sudden weaning is necessary or if your baby seems to be weaning too early, contact your Nursing Mothers’ Counselor or Lactation Consultant (see Contacts) for assistance. Weaning is best delayed if your baby is teething, ill or if you have had a major life change recently. When your child weans, you may experience feelings of sadness and loss. This is normal. Your baby will still need and want your closeness. Please refer to Weaning Your Baby (LINK?) for more specific information regarding weaning.