The Most Frequently Asked Breastfeeding Questions
When you are newly breastfeeding or preparing to do so, it may come as a shock that there will be a lot of information thrown your way. From books to moms groups to over-interested relatives, we can end up feeling overwhelmed by conflicting advice. Over the years I’ve seen moms stop nursing due to the stress of information overload and feeling like they couldn’t get a straight answer on what was best. So I’ve outlined some of the most frequently asked breastfeeding questions from new moms, with the hope that it can provide a bit of clarity on the most important building blocks of a successful breastfeeding journey.
The Most Frequently Asked Breastfeeding Questions
How will I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?
Of course, this is the number one question I get as a lactation consultant. The wellbeing of your new baby is the number one focus of your life right now!
Here’s what you should look out for to know if your baby is getting enough breastmilk:
Appropriate Weight Gain
This isn’t something you need to regularly worry about. Your baby’s pediatrician will be closely monitoring your baby’s weight gain. This means that you don’t need to order special baby scales, unless specifically instructed by your doctor. Normal daily weight fluctuations can drive parents nuts!
If there is a concern, your provider will absolutely be communicating that with you. They should refer you to a lactation consultant and provide frequent weight checks until your little one is back on track.
Wet & Dirty Diapers
Diapers are (or are about to be) a big part of your daily life! That’s a great place to assess progress.
By day 6, your infant should have at least 6 wets and 4 dirties. Keeping track of that is extremely helpful and it can be a great job for your partner so they can feel involved! (hint, hint)
Breast softening after nursing is another good indicator. During the first few weeks, your breasts will always feel rather full. Soon you will learn the difference between the mega-full sensation and the moderately softened sensation that should follow a good feeding.
Hearing Suck & Swallowing
Over your baby’s first days and weeks of life, you want to start hearing more rhythmic suck-suck-swallow, suck-swallow patterns. The sounds you want to hear are nice intermittent ‘cah’ sounds coming from the back of your baby’s throat. Listen for any “rubber ducky sucky” sounds coming from their lips. This is a sign of an improper latch.
Baby’s Body Tension
A less obvious indicator is your baby’s body tension. Before a nursing session, your little one may have the grumpy grandpa scrunched up face and fists look. Afterward the feeding your baby should be more grandpa-after-Thanksgiving-dinner: chilled out, relaxed arms, maybe a milky little grin.
Will breastfeeding hurt?
This is the other top concern of new or expecting mammas. This answer is a resounding no.
In the first few days postpartum, your nipples may be *slightly* sore from all the new activity. This can be soothed by a small application of olive oil or nipple balm between feedings. This one is my fav.
However, if there is pain, there is something wrong with the latch. In this case, mom and baby need some support learning the ropes.
Other causes may stem from your baby’s or mom’s anatomy, or severe engorgement. No matter the cause, you should seek help as quickly as possible. This means within 3-4 days, not 3-4 weeks, so that you and baby can comfortably meet your breastfeeding goals.
Is breastfeeding advice mostly the same for everyone?
No, actually. There are certain key things, like the importance of proper latch, that apply to everyone. Aside from that, breastfeeding is a largely individualized experience. What worked for your sister and her baby may not work for your particular situation. Using inappropriate advice can have a negative impact on your breastfeeding experience.
*All bodies, breasts and babies are different*, and if you are struggling in any way, it is so super important to get individualized care from a trained professional. Friends, moms groups and online threads are fine for general support, but when it comes to something as individual and variable as breastfeeding, personalized care is the way to go.
Are there any breastfeeding risk factors I should talk to a consultant about prenatally?
Yes, there are certain things that can increase the risk of breastfeeding/milk supply issues. It is key to talk to a lactation consultant prenatally if you have a history of:
- Breast reduction or breast augmentation surgery
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid issues
If you have any of these that does *not* mean that you will automatically have difficulties. It just means that consulting with an IBCLC will help you to get educated, understand your risks and options, and to have a support system already in place for when your little one arrives.
What are the warning signs and symptoms for a breastfeeding mom to watch out for?
Both the nursing parent and the support person should be familiar with the following symptoms.
- Very sore spot on the breast, with or without a peanut-sized lump
- An area or redness or splotchiness on the breast
- An area of the breast that is hot to the touch
- Fever over 101
- Flu symptoms or extreme fatigue
If these symptoms begin, you can prevent them from worsening by promptly notifying your provider.
The Most Frequently Asked Breastfeeding Questions Wrap Up
Now, these are some of the most frequently asked breastfeeding questions I receive as an international board certified lactation consultant, and hopefully will give you some key things to think about.
However, with something as important, individualized and variable as nursing, my main advice would be: if in doubt, talk it out.
Need Breastfeeding Help?
Do not wait days for it to just ‘click,’ do not spiral through Google, or order a product that claims it will make it all better. Talk to a real live IBCLC, because your breastfeeding journey is paramount, time-sensitive, and worthy of the best professional support. I’d be happy to meet with you, from the comfort of your home, during a virtual lactation consultation. Sign up here or schedule a discovery call to learn how I can help!
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