Even experienced parents know that breastfeeding can be both simple and complicated. It can be difficult to find the information and support you need. Here are some answers to common questions.
How often should I feed my baby?
This can change in the first few days, weeks and months!
In the first few days, you may find yourself breastfeeding your baby more often, sometimes even every hour or so.
This changes as babies get a bit bigger and you’ll notice them having feeds less often but which last longer.
As a general rule of thumb for the first few weeks (and after those first few days!), your baby will breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period, or maybe even more.1
How can I tell when my baby is hungry?
Your newborn may put their hands to their mouth and pucker or smack their lips. They may also turn towards the breast and open their mouth, something called rooting. Clenched fists might also be a sign of hunger.2
Do I have enough milk?
Milk production usually keeps pace with demand. As long as your baby is producing plenty of wet and poopy diapers and gaining weight as expected, simply continue to nurse your baby when they’re hungry.1
Ouch! Why are my breasts painful?
There are many reasons why you may experience breast pain while you’re breastfeeding. Ask your doctor, midwife or a lactation consultant for help as soon as possible. Most problems are simple to take care of, but an untreated problem could become worse:
· When your breast becomes overly full, or engorged, it may feel hard and painful. This can happen in the early stages of breastfeeding when your milk is coming in but it can also happen at later stages too.
· Milk ducts can become blocked, causing a small, tender lump in your breast.
· A blocked duct can lead to mastitis or inflammation in the breast.
· Mastitis can turn into an infection and if this happens, would need to be treated with antibiotics.3
What if I’m taking medication?
Many medications are safe to take while breastfeeding, but talk with your healthcare provider first. They may recommend an alternative medication or recommend stopping breastfeeding temporarily. If you have advance notice, you may be able to pump milk to use during the time you’re taking the medication.4
Can I breastfeed after consuming alcohol?
Yes but don't forget that anything you do drink can get into breast milk. If you fancy a glass of something, make sure you wait at least 2 to 3 hours for every drink you've had before breastfeeding again.5
How long should I breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.6 Your pediatrician can recommend first foods to introduce at about six months. Recently, the AAP updated their policy recommendation to include breastfeeding to age two and beyond, as long as mutually desired by mother and child. Of course, this is not possible for everyone, and families deserve nonjudgmental support in feeding their infant.
How can my partner support breastfeeding?
Before your baby’s birth, your partner can attend a breastfeeding class with you. They can provide emotional support, especially during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. They can also help with practical needs like cooking, housework and caring for older children. They can bond with the baby through bathing, diaper changes and playtime. Beyond your spouse or partner, a close friend, a relative or doula can also support your breastfeeding journey.
Are there reasons why I shouldn’t breastfeed?
If you or your baby have certain health conditions, breastfeeding may not be recommended. If you’re taking any long-term medications, you’ll need to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. In addition, previous breast surgery may impact your ability to breastfeed. You may have your own reasons such as pain, discomfort, or negative feelings, and work or family responsibilities.
Breastfeeding isn’t for me, can I stop?
Yes, whether your baby is one day old or you’ve been breastfeeding for months, you can stop at any time. Breastfeeding is a personal decision. Ask your pediatrician about safe alternatives for feeding your baby.
How do I stop breastfeeding?
Stopping gradually, one feeding at a time, is ideal to help prevent overfull breasts and mastitis. If your baby is less than a year old, you’ll need to replace the dropped feeding with a formula feed. Fully weaning from breastfeeding may take a few weeks to several months.7
Can I get help from a healthcare provider?
If something doesn’t feel right, book an appointment with a professional. A physician or certified lactation consultant can help you overcome breastfeeding challenges. At Babylon Health, we don’t generally provide care for infants under two years of age, who require in-person assessment and diagnosis. Email us or call 1-800-4675-6168 and our nurses and care team can help you find a provider near you.
1. CDC. “How Much and How Often to Breastfeed.” https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/how-much-and-how-often.html. Last reviewed April 11, 2022. NHS. “Breastfeeding: the first few days.” https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding/the-first-few-days/. Last reviewed November 4, 2019.
2. CDC. “Signs Your Child Is Hungry or Full.” https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/mealtime/signs-your-child-is-hungry-or-full.html. Last reviewed July 22, 2021.
3. NHS. “Breast pain and breastfeeding” https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/...; Last reviewed: December 6, 2018.
4. Mayo Clinic. “Breast-feeding and medications: What’s safe?” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breastfeeding-and-medications/art-20043975. Published February 25, 2022.
5. La Leche League International. “Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding.” https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/alcohol/. Accessed July 10, 2022.
6. Joan Younger Meek, Lawrence Noble, Section on Breastfeeding; Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics July 2022; 150 (1): e2022057988. 10.1542/peds.2022-057988
7. NHS. “How to stop breastfeeding.” https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding/how-to-stop/. Last reviewed March 2, 2020.