Breastfeeding - FAQs
Babies Have Little Bellies!
New parents sometimes worry that their babies aren't getting enough to eat. Infants have small stomachs, so they don't need too much! The fruit represents how big the stomach is and the measurement is how much milk a baby needs.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?Toggle accordion item
- It is normal for newborns to lose 7% of their birthweight in the first few days of life. The average breastfed baby gains 5-7 oz/week for the first 4 months.
- You should be keeping track of baby’s wet and dirty diapers.
- Wet diapers: before mom’s milk comes in and baby is getting colostrum, they should have 1 wet diaper for each day of life. When milk comes in, on day 3,4 or 5, they should have 5-6 wet diapers every 24 hours.
- Dirty diapers: First 3 days of life, baby should have 1 poopy diaper for each day of life. After day 4, they should have at least 3-4 poopy diapers every 24 hours.
What does it mean when my milk “comes in”?Toggle accordion item
The milk changes from colostrum (yellow and thick milk) to mature milk (thinner and whiter). There is also more milk and your breasts may feel full or engorged (uncomfortably full). This happens anytime between days 2 and 5 after your baby is born.
What helps the engorgement go away?Toggle accordion item
Don’t skip feedings!
Breastfeed baby every 2-3 hours or more. Make sure baby is latched on deeply. Let baby finish eating on one side before switching to the next side. Baby will come off the breast when she has emptied it. To decrease the discomfort, use cold compresses or green cabbage leaves. Hand express to release some milk for your comfort or to help baby latch on if they are having trouble due to the firmness of the breast.
When should I call my doctor/midwife/lactation consultant?Toggle accordion item
- If baby is having no wet or dirty diapers.
- Baby has dark colored urine after Day 3.
- Baby has dark colored stools after Day 4. (they should be a mustard yellow in color)
- Infant has fewer wet or dirty diapers than listed above or is nursing less frequently than 8 or more times in 24 hours.
- Mom has symptoms of mastitis: sore breast with fever, chills, or flu-like aching
What are hunger cues?Toggle accordion item
Signals your baby gives you that tell you that he or she is hungry and ready to eat, such as:
- Licking lips/sticking tongue out
- Sucking on anything nearby
- Rooting (turning head and opening mouth)
- Fidgeting, squirming
- Frantic, agitated movement
- And the last signal is…Crying.
Pay attention to your baby’s early hunger cues. Catching them early will help with a successful breastfeeding session!
Is it safe to breastfeed on certain medications?Toggle accordion item
Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. You can contact a lactation consultant, your baby’s pediatrician, or LactMed.
How often should my newborn be breastfeedingToggle accordion item
8 or more times in 24 hours. Pay attention to baby’s hunger cues and feed your baby “on demand.”
What is colostrum?Toggle accordion item
This special milk is low in fat and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measured in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn.
Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him or her pass early stools, which helps prevent jaundice.
What is skin to skin?Toggle accordion item
Putting your baby belly down on your bare chest right after birth or as soon after as possible. Skin-to-skin babies stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have healthier blood sugar levels than babies who are swaddled. Studies show that babies who have been skin-to-skin breastfeed better and for a longer time. Keeping baby skin-to-skin in the first few weeks makes it easy to know when to feed baby, especially if he or she is sleepy.
Is this normal?Toggle accordion item
- Very frequent and/or long feedings? Yes!
- Cluster nursing (Frequent to constant nursing for hours)? Yes!
- Growth spurts (frequent nursing and fussiness for a few days)? Yes!
What if my baby is in the NICU?Toggle accordion item
Breastfeeding is especially good for premature babies or babies with medical conditions. Breast milk protects them against bacteria that can lead to serious and sometimes life threatening infections. Your milk is made specifically for Your baby.
What can I do about sore nipples?Toggle accordion item
First, ensure that baby is latching on deeply each time. A minimal amount of discomfort with breastfeeding is normal, especially in the first couple of weeks. If the pain lasts longer than this or lasts throughout the entire feeding, make sure baby is latching on well. A shallow latch can be a major cause of nipple trauma. Contact a lactation consultant for help if you’re unsure.
There are products that you can buy that help soothe sore nipples, including Lanolin cream and hydrogel pads. Breast milk also has healing properties. Paint some breast milk on your sore nipples and allow them to air dry. Remember to wear clean clothing and use new/clean breast pads to decrease the risk of infection.