Frequently Asked Questions
*The answers provided are general and may not specifically apply to your situation. This information is not intended to be diagnostic or prescriptive.
If your baby is experiencing any of these conditions, call a physician right away.
- Poor weight gain
- Low urine output
- Sleeping through feedings
- Yellow skin or whites of the eyes
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call a physician right away.
- Persistent breast pain
- Flu like symptoms
- Depression or anxiety
- Harmful thoughts
1. How do I know my baby is getting enough breastmilk?
Many breastfeeding mothers question if their baby is getting enough milk because they cannot see how much is being consumed. Fortunately, there are a few clues that indicate your baby is getting enough breastmilk. It is important that your baby is feeding frequently enough. During the day, your baby should eat every 1 to 3 hours. At night there should be no more than one 4 to 5 hour period of not eating.
Another way to check for adequate intake is your baby’s wet diaper. A baby that is getting enough to eat should have 1 wet diaper in the first 24 hours of life, two on the second day, and 3 on the third day of life. For the first few days, your baby will be passing meconium, a sticky black stool. Once milk is in greater supply, your baby should have 5 to 6 wet diapers per day. Your baby’s stools will also change to a mustard color, runny and seedy in texture. There should be 3 to 4 of these stools per day in the first month. Consider keeping a daily log to track your baby’s feedings and dirty diapers.
There are also other signs that indicate sufficient feeding, such as audible swallowing, breasts feeling less full after feeding, baby falling away from the breast after feeding, contentment between feedings, and weight gain early after birth.
2. I have a hard red area on my breast, is this normal?
Any redness on your breast during your breastfeeding is not normal.
If your redness is accompanied by hardness, pain, or itching you are likely suffering from a plugged duct. Plugged ducts often result from tight bras, infrequent feedings, weaning your baby too fast, introducing solid foods too fast, or stress and tiredness. The best recommended treatment for plugged ducts is to feed frequently and for longer periods of time. Other methods to treat a plugged duct include drinking plenty of fluids, rest, applying warm packs to your breast before and after feeding, and massaging the lump before you nurse and during the feeding.
If your redness is accompanied by hardness, pain, itching, and a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, aches like those you get with the flu, or cracked nipples, you may be suffering from mastitis. Mastitis is the result of the normal germs in your baby’s mouth interacting with your breast, an untreated plugged duct, or persistent and untreated engorgement. Mastitis is treated with the same course of action as treating a plugged duct along with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
With either of these conditions it is important that you do not stop breastfeeding or pumping as this may result in more problems.
3. My baby doesn’t seem satisfied after breastfeeding, what should I do?
First, make sure you know the correct signs of satisfaction to look for from your baby. A satisfied baby is one that falls asleep after a feeding, has a relaxed body and forehead, opens his fists, and falls away from the breast. If your baby is showing these signs, he is satisfied after breastfeeding.
If your baby does not show signs of satisfaction, the best way to keep your baby satisfied is to feed him or her on demand. Be sure to look for hunger cues from your baby such as waking, crying, putting hands in or near their mouth, and lip smacking. These cues indicate that your baby is hungry and if you are able to feed when he or she demands, you will help to satisfy him or her. Additionally, your body creates enough milk for your baby at their developmental stage. If your baby is latching and sucking properly, he/she should be getting enough milk at each feeding to satisfy him/her. Switching feeding positions may allow your baby to feed easier and seem more satisfied. Gentle stimulation while baby feeds will keep baby awake and feeding at the breast. Baby should have a consistent suck swallow pattern while feeding. If your baby still seems unsatisfied consider making an appointment with a lactation consultant.
4. How can I increase my milk supply?
The best way to increase your milk supply is to feed frequently. By feeding your baby on demand when he or she cries or wakes for feedings, you will find that your baby’s demand for feeding will increase your milk supply naturally. Your body’s milk production is perfectly regulated to produce the right amount of milk for your baby as he or she grows. Skipping a feeding is like telling your body that the baby does not need as much milk and it shouldn’t be producing so much.
Your milk supply is also affected by your breastfeeding method. As important as it is to feed as frequently as your baby demands, it is important to alternate breasts so each breast is making enough milk for your baby. It is best to offer your baby both breasts in a feeding, but if he or she is satisfied with one in a single feeding, start with the opposite for the next feeding.
Latch is a very important aspect of milk supply as well. If you are feeding as often as your baby demands but he or she is not getting a proper latch for sucking, your milk supply will be affected. If you feel that your latch is affecting your milk supply stay patient and calm, consider switching positions, or contact a lactation consultant if you are struggling to achieve a proper latch.
5. How do I store breastmilk?
Breastmilk can be stored in plastic or glass bottles, or storage bags, such as those sold with breast pump supplies. When storing breastmilk, be sure to date each container with the time and date of expression. Breastmilk can be kept on the countertop at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. If breastmilk is not used within 4 hours, it should be stored in the refrigerator where it will last between 5 and 7 days. Breastmilk may be frozen in a refrigerator freezer for 3 months or in a deep freezer for 6 months. Frozen milk should be thawed by placing it in warm water for 20 minutes and never refrozen. Breastmilk should not be microwaved because it will destroy the composition and make the milk so hot it can burn the baby’s mouth. To bring refrigerated breastmilk to room temperature, simply run the container under warm tap water.
6. It hurts when my baby nurses, is that normal?
Some tenderness in the first few days of breastfeeding is expected. Normally, breast pain or tenderness during breastfeeding subsides within 3 to 4 days. If soreness continues it is likely due to problems with positioning or latching. Try switching positions and watch for an effective latch from your baby to fix these problems. If you have cracks, bruising or blisters to your nipples, this is not normal for breastfeeding. If you cannot identify the problem or solve it, contact a lactation consultant or your physician for assistance. Do not let the problem persist.