Breastfeeding Guidance

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For information about maternity services at Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital, submit a question for our experts. 

We know breastfeeding provides important nutrients and bonding time for your newborn, and we are committed to helping you succeed. We support practices that encourage breastfeeding. We also have lactation consultants and nursing staff dedicated to answering your questions and helping you overcome any issues you may have, while you are in the hospital and after you go home.

Please contact us for breastfeeding guidance at any point in your pregnancy or after you have delivered your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

What Are Best Practices for Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding comes naturally to some women and presents challenges for others.

Our lactation consultants are here to help – during your hospital stay and after you go home.

  • We encourage you to breastfeed your baby soon after delivery, usually within the first hour. We encourage rooming-in for you and your newborn. It’s best to keep your baby in the room with you at the hospital so you can feed on demand. The first few days of breastfeeding provide your baby with colostrum – concentrated breast milk rich in nutrients and antibodies.
  • Place your baby on your bare chest whenever possible for skin-to-skin contact while feeding.
  • Nurse your baby on one side until the breast is softened, then switch to the other breast. Depleting a breast’s supply allows your baby to get the nutrient-rich hindmilk. It is OK if your baby does not take both breasts in one feeding.
  • Nurse your baby eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period in the early days of breastfeeding. Wake your baby up to feed in the first days to avoid breast swelling and promote your milk supply. You will notice an increase in milk volume between three and five days after delivery.
  • Watch for your baby’s early hunger cues – sucking the fist, licking the lips, opening the mouth – and offer your breast. Later, crying is a sign of hunger.
  • Avoid pacifiers, artificial nipples and feeding supplements until your baby is breastfeeding well. Of course, use them if your healthcare provider recommends it.
  • Your baby may want to breastfeed often in the first few months during growth spurts. This “cluster feeding” is normal.

How Can I Tell If I Am Succeeding?

Many new mothers wonder if their babies are getting enough sustenance from breastfeeding. Following are signs that indicate breastfeeding is successful:

  • Your baby seems satisfied after breastfeeding.
  • Your baby’s stool has changed to seedy-yellow by day 5 of life.
  • Your infant is stooling and voiding frequently by day 3 (six wet diapers, three stools in 24 hours).
  • Your breasts feel full before your baby breastfeeds, and they feel softer afterward.
  • You do not have nipple or breast pain.

What Is the ‘Right’ Breastfeeding Diet?

You really can eat whatever you want when you are breastfeeding. Follow these general guidelines:

  • Eat well-balanced nutritious meals.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit caffeine to no more than two 8-ounce servings per day.
  • If your baby seems fussy, try to determine if there is a link to a food you ate. Remove the food from your diet for 48 hours, and check for improvement. Usually, babies are not bothered by anything the mother eats.

How Should Breast Milk Be Stored & Prepared?

You cannot always be present to breastfeed your baby, and you may pump and store milk for later use. Follow these steps to make sure your milk is safe and ready for your baby:

  • After you pump, label and date milk. Use the oldest milk first.
  • Breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator for five to eight days.
  • Breast milk can be stored for as long as three months in a freezer and six months in a deep freezer.
  • Thaw frozen or refrigerated milk to room temperature by placing it in a container of hot water. Never heat breast milk in a microwave oven. The heating is not uniform, and your baby could get burned. Heating milk in this way also can destroy important nutrients.
  • Test milk on the inside of your wrist before giving to your baby.

How Should I Care for My Breasts?

Your comfort while you are breastfeeding is important. These tips may help you care for yourself while you’re caring for your baby:

  • Try wearing a support bra if you need extra support.
  • Practice correct positioning and latching on to prevent sore nipples. Contact a lactation consultant if you need a refresher in these best practices. Alternate positioning during feeding to prevent repeated pressure on any particular point. Express a little bit of milk to help your baby latch on.
  • To remove your baby from your breast, place your little finger in the baby’s mouth and break the suction.
  • After your baby feeds, express some colostrum or breast milk and rub it on your nipples. Then air dry your nipples for 10 minutes. Apply a gentle lanolin preparation made for use on nipples, or hydro gel pads. This can help with soreness, chapping, and cracking. Avoid using soap to wash your nipples and avoid vitamin E ointments. These can be toxic to babies.
  • Do not wear nursing pads once they have become moist. Avoid pads with plastic liners and tight bras.
  • You may experience engorgement in the three to five days after you deliver your baby. This is normal. Symptoms include tenderness, swelling, warmth, and hardness of your breasts, fever, and headache. The best remedy is to feed your baby often.
  • Try treating your swollen breasts with ice packs and cabbage leaves. Place the leaves on your bare breasts with ice packs on top for 15 minutes. Leave off for 45 minutes, and repeat if needed until you can comfortably feed your baby. Pump after you nurse if needed to further relieve swelling. Showering in warm water also can help soften swollen breasts for feeding.
  • Follow the instructions for your breast pump. Improper use can cause sore nipples.

When Should I Call a Lactation Consultant?

You may want to contact one of our lactation consultants if you have any of these symptoms:

  • You feel breastfeeding is not going well.
  • Your nipples are cracked, bleeding, or painful nipples.
  • Your baby is having difficulty latching on for feeding.
  • Your baby is not breastfeeding eight to 12 times initially.
  • You are supplementing with bottles.
  • Your baby is not stooling and voiding adequately.

When Should I Call the Pediatrician?

Breastfeeding, especially your first baby, can be stressful. You want to make sure you are giving your baby what he or she needs. Your healthcare providers want to support you in this important endeavor. Do not hesitate to call or see your baby’s healthcare provider in these situations or any time you feel your baby needs medical attention:

  • Your baby seems hungry after breastfeeding.
  • Your baby is sleepy and does not eat at least eight times in 24 hours.
  • Your baby is fussy and cries a lot.
  • Your baby does not void six times after your milk has come in (days 3 to 5 of life).
  • Your baby’s stools are not yellow by day 5 of life.
  • You feel the need to supplement with formula.
  • Your baby appears jaundiced (yellow skin tone, yellow in the whites of the eyes).