Frequently Asked Questions
What if I can’t make enough milk?
Your baby was born to breastfeed but so were moms. Your milk is established in the beginning when your baby is feeding frequently. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body will make. Your newborn can breastfeed as often as every 1-2 hours and should be feed 8-12 times a day. Newborns should be fed at least every 4 hours at night initially, until gaining weight appropriately.
The amount of milk your body makes is not affected by:
- The size of your breasts
- Whether your mom or grandmother was able to breastfeed
- The kinds of food you eat
The amount of milk your body makes is affected by:
- Breastfeeding early (right after delivery) and often
- Letting your baby tell you when he is full, rather than using a clock
- Making sure your baby is latched on well
If you are having difficulty with your milk supply, the Clark County Combined Health District and WIC have Lactation Counselors available to assist you or you can contact your health provider.
How can I tell if my baby is getting enough breastmilk?
Breastfeed your baby when he/she has “hunger cues” every 1-3 hours or as often as the baby wants to eat but at least 8-12 times a day. Newborns should be fed around the clock. It is important not to introduce a bottle or pacifier until the baby is 3 weeks old as this can make breastfeeding more difficult. Look for the following signs that your baby is getting enough, by the time the baby is 3-4 days old the baby should have:
- 6-8 very wet diapers in a 24 hour period
- 3-5 messy bowel movements in a 24 hour period
- Your baby is latching on well and you can hear or feel the baby suck and swallow.
- Your baby seems content and happy after breastfeeding.
- Your baby is gaining weight.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. If breastfeeding hurts, it might be due to a poor latch. You should try repositioning, or if that doesn’t help then contact a Lactation Counselor. Make sure that you are not waiting too long to breastfeed and becoming engorged which makes your breasts feel uncomfortably full, hard and warm.
Pain might also be due to uterine contractions that are stimulated by breastfeeding. This is nature’s way of helping the uterus shrink and reduces uterine bleeding. It will only last a day or so. You may ask for medication to reduce the discomfort.
The following link has wonderful videos explaining how to get a good latch along with other breastfeeding topics from the Global Health Media Project supported by the World Health Organization and UNICEF http://globalhealthmedia.org/videos/. We encourage you to check them out. Also the Dept. of Health and Human Services/ WomensHealth.gov http://www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural/ has great resources such as positions for a good latch and much more.
Do you have to change the way you eat?
You do not have to eat a special diet to breastfeed. If you think something you ate made your baby fussy then you might wait a few days before trying it again. Eating a wide variety of foods makes your breastmilk taste different and helps prepare your baby for different foods. Even if you have a day when you feel you didn’t eat very well, your breastmilk will be full of the nutrients your baby needs. You don’t have to do anything special, just eat when hungry and drink when you are thirsty. You must be careful about medications and check to see if they are safe for your baby before you take them. Drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and soft drinks in moderation should be alright. You need to discuss drinking alcohol with your health care provider.
I think breastfeeding might be embarrassing
A lot of places provide a private room or breastfeeding area. You can look for a semi private area like a dressing room, lounge, or restaurant booth. Try practicing these suggestions in front of a mirror to help create privacy in public.
- Place a blanket or shawl over your shoulder and slip your baby under it.
- Wear loose-fitting or button-down shirts to allow your baby easy access
- Try a special nursing bra.
- Wear a shirt, sweater or jacket to help conceal.
My baby’s father and family would like to feed the baby.
There are many things that dad and other family members can do to play an important role in caring for the baby. The baby will benefit from being played with and talked to. Dad can sing to the baby, soothe, bathe, change the diaper, or rock the baby to sleep. Explain to your partner and family how important it is to you and the baby, for them to support you in breastfeeding.
What about going back to work or school?
Many women continue to breastfeed, even after going back to work or school. The following are some helpful ideas:
- Get a good start. Breastfeed 8-12 times a day in the first weeks to build your milk supply.
- Don’t offer a bottle or pacifier for 4-6 weeks so the baby doesn’t get confused by different nipples.
- Find a child-care provider who is supportive of breastfeeding.
- Talk to your health insurance company, WIC or Clark County Combined Health District about breast pumps and expressing milk at work or school.
- About 1-2 weeks before returning to work or school, introduce a bottle of expressed breastmilk. Tip: If possible let someone else in the family offer the bottle of expressed milk so that the baby only looks to you for breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed your baby shortly before you leave, and as soon as possible once you get home.
- Continue to breastfeed often at home.
- Be sure to talk to your supervisor or employer about your intentions to breastfeed and let them know that you will need a place to pump and the flexibility time wise to do so.
What about prescription drugs or using other drugs?
Some medications are alright to take when breastfeeding and some are not, so it is important that you check with your health care provider before taking medication. Some things to talk about are:
- Is the medication necessary?
- Is there a different medication that works in the same way but may be better for breastfeeding mothers?
- Will the medication affect the breastfed baby?
- Does the medication have an effect on your ability to breastfeed or your milk supply?
- Is there a schedule you could follow to minimize the effects of a medication that you must take?
- Breastfeeding mothers should not use illicit drugs like marijuana,
Cocaine, heroin, etc., because they can pass through the breastmilk and be hazardous to the baby.
What if I can’t quit smoking?
Studies have shown that nicotine does enter the breastmilk but studies also indicate that the benefits of breastfeeding usually outweigh the risk to the baby. Try to smoke after breastfeeding and not before breastfeeding. Cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. NEVER smoke in the same room as your baby.
Will I be able to use birth control?Breastfeeding mothers can use progesterone only birth control such as the “mini-pill or Depo Provera.” It is important to let your OB/GYN know that you are breastfeeding and you want to use a birth control method that will not affect your milk supply. You can get pregnant while breastfeeding as breastfeeding is not a form of birth control.
Last Review: 08052016RH