1. Where can I get reliable breastfeeding information while awaiting a call back from one of your Lactation Consultants?
While we do not usually recommend googling things because there is a lot of unreliable and frankly erroneous information available on the internet, if you can not wait for a call back for answers to your questions we recommend one of these evidence-based websites:
- workandpump.com (advice for breastfeeding when you return to work)
- llli.org (La Leche League International)
- healthychildren.org (the AAP’s website for parents, general childcare info including breastfeeding)
2. My doctor prescribed medicine or I would like to take an over the counter medication. How do I know if it is safe for my breastfeeding baby?
NIH provides a website with information about the safety of medications for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Visit www.toxnet.nlm.nih.gov and type in the name of the medicine and it will give you recommendations for its use with breastfeeding babies.
3. How often do I need to feed my baby?
In the beginning, newborns need to feed eight to twelve times every 24 hours in order to gain weight well and establish a good milk supply. This may mean not waiting until your baby is crying to put them to the breast. It may be necessary in the early days to wake your sleeping newborn and encourage feeding. During the day, you may find it helpful to put your baby to the breast more frequently (every 2 to 2 ½ hours) in the hopes of longer stretches at night. At certain periods during the day your baby will probably want to cluster feed meaning feed every hour for several hours in a row. This is normal. Over time, once your infant is growing well, you will be able to move to a feeding on demand schedule.
4. How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
Here are some things to look for that indicate your baby is taking in enough breastmilk at each feeding:
- Weight gain of ¾ oz – 1 oz/day
- Back to birth weight by 2 week well visit
- 3-5 (or more) loose, yellow bowel movements/day by days 5-7
- 6-8 wet diapers every 24 hours
- Sustained suckling and listening for swallowing during feedings
- Baby is content after nursing
- Breasts feel softer after feeds
5. For how long should I plan to breastfeed my baby?
In general, the longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits will be to you and your baby and the longer the benefits will last. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life with no additional foods or nutrients other than vitamin D drops. They recommend continuing to breastfeed with other foods for at least 12 months. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for up to 2 years or beyond.
6. My husband would like to help with feeding. Can I breastfeed during the day and have my husband feed the baby with a bottle at night?
Unfortunately, if the breasts go all night without stimulation before your baby is ready to sleep through the night, most women find a significant decrease in their milk supply. Your husband can help at night by answering your baby’s cries, changing diapers, and bringing your newborn to you in order to minimize your awake time.
7. Can I drink alcohol while I am breastfeeding?
Alcohol does pass through your breastmilk to your baby so you should avoid large amounts while breastfeeding. Alcohol changes the taste of your milk so your baby may not feed as well which can lead to a decrease in milk supply. Contrary to rumors, alcohol does not increase your supply so beer should not be used as a galactogogue. That being said, an occasional drink will probably not harm your baby but avoiding breastfeeding for 2 hours afterwards is recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is time that clears alcohol from your system, not pumping. Alcohol does not accumulate in your milk so when alcohol leaves your blood it is also cleared from your milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates moderation in alcohol consumption as there are concerns about long-term repeated exposures of infants to alcohol in breastmilk.
8. Are there any foods I should avoid while breastfeeding?
For years, breastfeeding mothers were advised to restrict certain things from their diet such as spicy foods, beans, cabbage, onions, chocolate, etc. Research has shown, in most cases, this is unnecessary. Infants from cultures where spicy foods are the norm are no fussier. The foods you eat will actually help your infant develop a taste for the foods that are traditional to your culture or your family. Moderate consumption of caffeine (sodas, tea, coffee) should not affect your baby. Continue to avoid fish that are high in mercury (tuna, swordfish, king mackerel). Mercury can cause damage to the nervous system in infants. Finally if there is a food that repeatedly seems to make your infant uncomfortable and it is not crucial to your diet you can consider eliminating it.