For those times when breastfeeding your new baby “doesn’t just happen,” many of our General Pediatric offices are proud to have providers who are board-certified lactation consultants. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. The lactation consultants in our pediatric offices are able to meet one on one with new mothers and their infants, providing hands-on care to address all breastfeeding concerns. Our lactation consultants are also happy to continue to help families with their breastfeeding questions through telephone follow-ups, as well as additional in-person visits. IBCLC professionals can make a great difference, resulting in a successful breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.
Common breastfeeding topics that our IBCLCs assist with include:
- Maintaining milk supply
- Increasing milk supply
- Breastfeeding and returning to work
- Breastfeeding special needs infants such as premature or multiples
- Engorgement and mastitis
Frequently asked questions
Breast milk has all the nutrients our babies need when they’re born and helps provide immunologic protection. It promotes brain development, enhances visual development and keeps babies healthier. In fact, breastfeeding has even shown to reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), allergies, obesity, some childhood cancers, insulin dependent diabetes, asthma and Crohn’s disease.
Not only is it great for baby, it’s healthy for mom, too: breastfeeding helps reduce the incidence of diabetes in mothers and can even help with weight loss after birth.
Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby, and supplementing with formula can fill your baby up, making him or her less interested in breast milk. Supplementing can also result in a lower milk supply, since milk production is based on milk removal. Formula supplementation can also result in an increase in allergies for baby and breast problems like engorgement and/or mastitis for mom.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend supplementing unless a medical reason exists.
You are feeding effectively if:
- Your baby latches on and stays on, creating strong suction
- You notice your baby changes to long, slow sucks with a swallow after every one to two sucks
- You can see and/or hear your baby swallowing
- Your baby lets go of the breast when he or she is finished, is calm and seems satisfied
- After feeding, baby isn’t crying, moving the mouth or chewing on his or her fist
- Your baby sleeps and stays asleep at least one hour after feeding
You may also notice:
- Uterine cramps while breastfeeding in the first few days after birth
- Leaking from the opposite breast while breastfeeding
- Feelings of relaxation and thirst from the hormones released during effective breastfeeding
- Milk in the corner of your baby’s mouth during and/or after breastfeeding
Your baby is getting enough milk if:
- Your baby nurses at least 8-12 times in 24 hours
- Your baby feeds well from at least one breast each feeding (offer both breasts)
- The baby nurses until coming off himself or herself (watch the baby, not the clock)
- Your baby is having bowel movements and has an increase of one wet diaper for each day of life for the first week, and six to eight wet diapers and four or more soft yellow stools every day for the first month
- Stools change from black to green to yellow as the baby gets more breast milk
- Birth weight is regained within 10 to 14 days of birth (some weight loss in the early days is normal)
Your baby may “cluster feed,” or feed many times within a short period of time without deep sleep in between.
Most flat or inverted nipples will not cause breastfeeding issues. If you don’t usually have flat nipples, but have noticed them lately, it could be due to temporary swelling. Breastfeeding early and often can help.
Patience and persistence are key. If you’re having trouble getting your baby to latch and feed, try these tips:
- If your nipple can be grasped, roll it to help it stand out.
- Using an electric pump just prior to feeding may help a non-engorged breast.
- Express some milk onto the nipple or into the baby’s mouth to keep him or her interested.
- Shape your breast into an oval so that your thumb lines up with the baby’s upper lip.
- Different positions and breast holds may help the way the nipple stands out; football or cross-cradle, for example.
- Until feeding at the breast is well established, pump and feed your baby your expressed breast milk.
Milk supply depends on how much you feed. To make sure you’re producing enough milk, feed your baby eight to 12 times per 24 hours, and increase the frequency and length of feedings. Also make sure you alternate from breast to breast and massage the one your baby is currently feeding from.
Just like with feeding, pumping your breasts regularly helps stimulate them to produce more milk. Double pump with a hospital-grade electric breast pump eight to 12 times every 24 hours with one four- to five-hour sleep cycle for yourself. Pump for about 20 minutes and one to two minutes after the flow has stopped.
Keep pumping even if you have a stressful day or when you first return to work (otherwise milk supply may decrease). Your supply will usually increase when things settle down.
Breast engorgement occurs when your breasts are overfull. To prevent this uncomfortable condition, breastfeed or pump regularly. Applying warm, moist packs to your breasts (or taking a steamy shower) for 20 minutes before feeding or pumping can help with milk flow, and applying cold packs for 20 minutes after can help with soreness.
If your nipples are painfully sore from feeding and pumping, it’s important to have them evaluated by a lactation consultant or healthcare professional. Warm, wet compresses and pain relief medications can help.
To prevent sore nipples before the problem arises, ensure proper latch and positioning and correct pumping technique. Be gentle when washing your breasts and always alternate them when feeding or pumping. Avoid missing feedings or pumping sessions, as this may lead to engorgement.