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Everyone is aware that breastfeeding a child is important and beneficial for the child’s health. For some, particularly first time moms, it can pose certain challenges. The initial days of nursing can be a baffling time with lots of queries abound. You may gain more confidence by getting to know the concept and process of breastfeeding, which can help you in tackling the many challenges of breastfeeding.
20 Common Breastfeeding Questions and Answers
Decoding breastfeeding through some commonly asked questions on breastfeeding may help you gain some useful insight into the matter:
1. When will the breastmilk come in?
It’s common to hear the phrase – “the breastmilk hasn’t come in”. But the use of the phrase is incorrect. In most cases, women produce colostrum, or first milk, during the initial days following childbirth. Colostrum is a thick, milky substance rich in antibodies, which precedes the production of actual breast milk. The body usually starts to produce breastmilk in a couple of day’s time after giving birth.
2. Does the size of the breast affect milk production?
No, the size of the breast does not affect milk supply. Most women produce enough milk as per their baby’s needs irrespective of their breast size. Small-breasted women can produce an oversupply of milk while some large-breasted women may have a tough time producing plentiful.
3. Why do some lactating moms yield more breastmilk than others?
According to doctors, different breasts can have diverse storage capacity. Moreover, the quantity of milk supply is subject to mammary tissue. But moms need not worry unnecessarily. Normally lactating mothers are capable of producing what their baby requires. However, if you suspect your milk supply is low, seek expert guidance to prevent the reduction of milk production.
4. Shouldn’t breastfeeding be easy?
Breastfeeding is considered the most natural thing. But it may not be easy for everyone, mainly in the first few weeks after delivery. It is an acquired skill which nursing moms are required to learn with patience and practice. For some, the initial stages can be uncomfortable and painful, especially when they may coping with postpartum issues. Breastfeeding usually does become easier with time and experience.
5. Is my baby truly drinking?
A baby may remain at the breast sometimes but not just for nutritional reasons. Some babies seek comfort from suckling the breast. They may nurse for long periods and use the breast as a pacifier. In case you are unsure whether your baby is truly nursing, check for certain things such as his jaw moving up and down when he sucks, whether he’s swallowing, if the breast is feeling lighter after feeding, and so on.
6. Am I producing sufficient milk for my baby?
Most women commonly worry if they are producing enough milk. You can take note of a few signs such as:
- If your newborn has 7 to 8 wet nappies per day
- If your breasts feel full between feeds and drain after nursing
- If your baby is steadily gaining weight each week
- If your baby appears to require his next feed after a realistic gap (about 2 to 3 hours)
Please note – Breasts feeling full between feeds and draining after nursing will be dependant from mother to mother. Similarly, baby requiring his next feed after a realistic gap will depend from baby to baby. Some babies also cluster feed during growth spurts.
7. How can I enhance my low supply?
Milk supply can be short for several reasons. In case you are worried you are not producing adequate milk, try some things like:
- Feeding your baby frequently- the more you nurse, the more you may produce.
- Attempt pumping for a few minutes right after your baby finishes feeding.
- Make sure you consume a balanced diet. Drink lots of healthy fluids.
- Remember to take a suitable rest and quality sleep.
8. How to avoid and soothe engorged breasts
Some women may experience painful breasts because they are too full. Breast engorgement usually happens when a mom produces more milk than what a baby can use or if a baby abruptly starts feeding less than normal. Breasts may also swell up due to blocked ducts. In such instances, you can try cold compresses or cabbage leaves to reduce the swelling. Use a breast pump or a hand express technique to release a bit of milk.
9. How to prevent colic while breastfeeding
In case your baby gets colicky while nursing, consider looking into what you are eating. Your baby can be intolerant to certain foods like cow’s milk, cauliflower, chocolate, broccoli, onions, and spicy foods which may be making him colicky. Consult your paediatrician about eliminating foods from your diet. You can try doing so one by one and then wait to notice whether your baby’s colicky signs improve or not.
10. How to cure sore nipples
While curing is a reactive measure to avoid sore or cracked nipples, one must practise deep latch technique.
Sore or cracked nipples can make nursing painful. You can contemplate changing your regular breastfeeding positions. Allow your nipples to air dry after feeding. Avoid tight-fitting bras and shirts. Go for soft cotton fabric which doesn’t irritate the skin. Regularly change your nursing pads. You can also rub some manually expressed breast milk on your sore nipples to help them heal.
11. Can I breastfeed if my nipples are bleeding?
Sometimes, cracked nipples can give way to bleeding. But you can still breastfeed although it may be quite uncomfortable. A slight measure of blood in breast milk may not harm the baby. Nevertheless, cracked nipples can be the result of improper latching. You may like to take a few sessions to educate yourself about appropriate latching techniques.
12. How to obtain a good breastfeeding latch
Breastfeeding shouldn’t involve any pain. You can experience a stinging or tingling sensation while nursing. But any pain may indicate that the baby is not latching correctly. Open his mouth wide (pull down gently on his chin) so that he may take in as much of the areola and breast as possible. In case his mouth doesn’t open up enough, the latch may not be proper, causing him to nurse off the nipple which can lead to a cracked nipple.
13. Are painful lumps in the breast normal?
Plugged or blocked ducts can trigger the development of painful lumps as they prevent the milk from properly draining out of the breast. The condition can improve if your feed more often. Other treatments can include applying a warm compress or massaging the affected breast to encourage the milk flow. Always ensure your breasts are drained suitably after a nursing session.
14. What to eat or drink when breastfeeding
Moderation should be the guiding principle when it comes to eating foods while breastfeeding. Opt for a well-balanced diet. Refrain from food items that are likely to prompt bloating as they can make your baby colicky. Drink ample amounts of water, fresh juices, and soups.
15. When to go for a nipple shield
Your doctor may recommend the use of nipple shields to help you deal with certain underlying breastfeeding issues like flat nipples, engorgement, or sore nipples. However, they should not be used on a long-term basis and only under the supervision of an expert.
16. When should I start pumping?
There are no set rules to it. Many moms may prefer pumping as it gives them the convenience of someone else feeding their baby if they’re unable to at the time. Some may choose to pump to increase their milk supply. In case you adopt pumping, trying doing it right after a feed, about two times a day, to accumulate sufficient stored milk for a nursing session.
17. What is breastfeeding jaundice?
Newborn babies at times become jaundiced due to high bilirubin levels causing a yellow tinge to appear in their eyes and skin. In some cases, jaundice can get worse owing to poor breastmilk supply or insufficient nursing during the baby’s early weeks after birth. This leads to extreme weight loss and dehydration. In the case of such instances, nursing moms should seek a doctor’s help to make their breastfeeding more effective.
18. For how long should I breastfeed?
The WHO proposes about six months of absolute dedicated breastfeeding before introducing other foods. Subsequently, the baby may receive other complementary solids with continual breastfeeding until about 2 or more years of age. However, it is more of a personal choice.
19. Should I stop breastfeeding if I am sick?
Breastfeeding moms need not stop nursing even when they fall sick. Certain situations may warrant discontinuation like active tuberculosis, HIV, untreated brucellosis, chemotherapy for cancer, taking illicit drugs, herpes lesions on the breast, etc. But simply having a fever or cold should not be a cause to stop nursing unless you’re advised by a doctor to do otherwise.
20. How much should a newborn be feeding every day?
Ideally, a newborn should be feeding about 8 to 12 times every day for the initial months. Your baby will possibly feel hungry after 3 to 4 hours, consuming around 50 ml every feed. Gradually he may progress to about 120 ml towards the end of the early months. Expect to increase approximately 30 ml every month until the baby is 6 months of age.
Breastfeeding helps both the mother and the baby as it can safeguard the mother and infant from many diseases. Therefore, nursing moms should continue to breastfeed their babies for as long as possible.
Also Read: How to Breastfeed a Baby at Night