When it comes to breastfeeding, many questions will arise. As a new mom, or new mom to breastfeeding, you likely have many breastfeeding questions because you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to have a successful journey.
That’s why I’ve comprised a list of answers to all the most commonly asked breastfeeding questions. No extra fluff here. Just all the information you want and need!
Commonly Asked Breastfeeding Questions
Is breastfeeding easy?
Many people will say that breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do. But lets be honest. It’s the most unnatural, natural thing you will do. It’s a learning process. For both you and your baby. So it may not be easy at first, but once you two get the hang of it, it’ll be smooth sailing.
When will my milk come in?
Ok, so lets clear up some confusion. Milk production begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. Your body begins to make colostrum, which is the thick, yellowish liquid, that you see right after birth. It’s full of awesome antibodies and nutrients for your newborn and is easy for their little tummies. Some women may see their breasts leaking during pregnancy. It’s completely normal.
Your milk changes 2-5 days after birth. Your body says, it is now time to FEED the baby and it goes from the yellow think fluid to that white milk you’re used to seeing. This change is signaled by your placenta detaching from your uterus and being delivered.
After delivery, I don’t get anything when I pump. Should I just give my baby formula?
The short answer is no. Your baby is more efficient at pulling out your breast milk than a pump, and when you do pump you may only get drops of colostrum out right after birth. This is ok and completely normal! Colostrum is thick and concentrated so your baby doesn’t need much to fill their tiny bellies.
In some cases, a baby may need their blood sugar checked if mom has Gestational diabetes or if baby was “big”(See I Failed My Glucose Test-Understanding Gestational Diabetes). If their blood sugar is too low, the staff may recommend supplementing with formula. Ask if you can use donor breastmilk first if you want to steer clear of formula.
When can I start putting cereal in my baby’s breastmilk bottle?
Never sis…Never. Listen, I’m sure your auntie, grandmama, sister, cousin, probably told you that you should start putting cereal in your baby’s bottle around 2 or 3 months. They likely said your baby would sleep better. I bet they even told you to cut a bigger hole in the nipple so it would get through the hole. NO. Putting cereal in your baby’s bottle is a choking hazard.
Not only is putting cereal in a bottle a choking hazard, but according the the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby shouldn’t be given solids until all signs of readiness are met AND your baby is 6 months of age (or for medical reasons approved by your doctor). When that is met, feed the cereal using a spoon.
Can I breastfeed if I’m sick?
Illnesses like the common cold, flu, and even stomach virus/diarrhea, cannot be passed through breastmilk. As long as you’re practicing good hygiene by washing your hands, you shouldn’t pass anything to your baby.
The great thing about breastfeeding, is that when you are sick, you pass on antibodies to your baby through your breastmilk, protecting them from getting sick.
What is a let down?
The let down is the release of your milk from the alveoli to the ducts. If you’ve read any of my recent blog posts, then you know all about oxytocin and how it triggers the let down reflex. Some moms report it feeling like a tingling feeling or pins and needles
You can read more about your let down at Healthline.
How often do I need to breastfeed?
In the first couple of months, your baby will typically nurse 8-12 times in a 24 hr period. That’s about every 2-3 hours. If you find that your baby is going on 3 hours without eating, you may need to wake them up to nurse them.
What is pace feeding?
Also known as paced bottle feeding, this is a form of feeding that allows the baby to be more in control of the pace and flow of the milk coming from the bottle. This method of feeding has the baby sitting semi upright and slows the flow of the milk, which helps the baby to drink slower. Paced feeding helps to reduce gas and overeating.
How do I get a breast pump through my insurance?
This will vary by insurance company, so it’s best to call your provider and check on their procedures. Typically, you will need a prescription from your OBGYN. Some OB offices have certain companies they use for breast pumps, or you can choose one you would like to go with. Here are a few companies that provide breast pumps through insurance:
How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
The best way to track nutrition input is through the amount of wet diapers your baby is having. This includes bowels (poopy) as well. In the beginning, the aim is to have at least 6-8 wet diapers per day. The amount of wet and bowel diapers needed, will change over time.
You should also hear your baby swallowing, which will sound like a “kah” sound. Remember, if at any point you have concerns about your infant getting enough milk, speak with your child’s pediatrician and an IBCLC.
My baby constantly wants to nurse, does that mean he’s not getting enough milk?
There are so many reasons your baby wants to nurse. They nurse because they’re hungry, sleepy, hurt, need comfort, etc. Oftentimes, when your baby wants to nurse constantly, they’re entering a growth spurt or going through a developmental leap. During these growths and leaps, babies tend to clusterfeed.
Cluster feeding is when a baby feeds several times within the normal window of 2-3 hours. You may nurse your baby and within minutes of finishing and putting them down, they’re showing signs of wanting to nurse again.
This is a completely normal and needed. Cluster feeding lets your body know that it needs to up its milk supply for your baby.
Does my baby need water during the hot months when breastfeeding?
The short answer is No. Our breastmilk is made up of 88% water. Breastmilk supplies all the hydration your baby needs. So if your baby is exclusively breastfed, even in those hot months, there is no need for additional water.
Once your baby turns 6 months and starts solids, you CAN introduce water to your baby, but no more than an once. But again, it’s not even needed.
You can read more about giving your infant water from Kelly Mom.
How can I increase my milk supply?
The bigger question here is, why do you think your milk supply is low? Is baby gaining weight? Are they having enough wet diapers? If so, your supply is likely fine.
I get it. You’ve been in those support groups, and you’ve seen other moms post their “stash”. You’ve seen the pics of how much they pump in one session. You’re comparing their baby’s rolls to your baby’s lack thereof. Stop. Say it with me: Every baby is different. Every breastfeeding journey is different.
There are some instances where your supply might take a dip, like when your period starts, you start birth control, or you get pregnant. All of these are due to hormones. (If you need help deciding on a non-hormonal birth control check this out–> Choosing The Right Birth Control: 11 Best Methods You Need To Know).
Know that if you are pumping and nursing, your pump will not always be as effective at emptying your breast as your baby. So while you may not get a ton of milk with the breast pump, your baby is likely full when nursing from the breast.
A normal output to pump after nursing your baby is 0.5-2 oz combined. If you are pumping to replace a missed feed, a normal output is 2-4 oz combined.
What is a Haakaa?
A Haakaa is sometimes called a breast pump. I would call is a milk collector. A haakaa is placed on the breast, typically when the mom is nursing on one side and wants to collect the let down from the other as to not waste milk. You can also use it while pumping if you have a single pump. Let’s get this out there. A haakaa is NOT to replace an actual pump. This will in no way effectively or efficiently empty your breasts to keep up with the supply and demand of your baby. It is, however, a nice accessory to add to your collection to help you build up your stash
Breastfeeding Questions on Storage
What kind of container should I use to store my breastmilk?
You have lots of options. Many breast pumps come with their own bottles to pump directly into. You can either choose to store your milk in those bottles and place into your refrigerator, or you can pump into those bottles and transfer into a milk storage bag. Using a breastmilk storage bag can also save you room in your fridge/freezer?
Looking for the best storage bags? Check out –>The Ultimate Breastfeeding Essentials Checklist
How long can breastmilk stay in the refrigerator?
According the the CDC, breastmilk that was just expressed, can be placed in the refrigerator up to 4 day. If placing it in the freezer, it’s best to keep it no longer than 6 months, although 12 months is acceptable. Freshly expressed breastmilk can also stay at room temperature (77 degrees F or cooler) for up to 4 hours.
You can read more about breastmilk storage from the CDC.
I heated up a bottle to feed my baby, but then never gave it to him. Can I put it back in the fridge?
Yes you can. You can reheat the milk one more time if you placed it back into the fridge, or you can leave the milk out at room temp up to 2 hours. After those two hours have passed, the milk needs to be thrown away.
If your baby happened to drink from that heated bottle, you should discard the bottle after one hour. This is because our mouths are full of bacteria, so once a baby places their mouth on a bottle and it sits out, more bacteria can grow.
If you’re sad about throwing away access milk, think about saving it for a milk bath or make some lotion!
Breastfeeding Questions on Pregnancy
I just found out I’m pregnant. Can I continue breastfeeding?
Typically, you can continue breastfeeding while you’re pregnant. Because of hormones, you may experience a decrease in your milk supply *insert sad face*. But once baby has been delivered, your supply will come back and you can tandem nurse.
Remember to speak with your OB or Midwife. In some cases, it is NOT safe for a mama to breastfeed while she’s pregnant. This is usually due to some underlying medical condition that can put mom in a high risk pregnancy.
So, once you find out you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to continue for you and for baby.
Breastfeeding Question on drugs and alcohol
I take medications. Can I still breastfeed?
There are very few medications that you can’t take while breastfeeding because so little of the drug passes through the breastmilk that it has any affect on your baby. If you are ever concerned about a medication you are taking, contact Infant Risk Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm CT at 1(806) 352-2519.
Can I drink coffee if I’m breastfeeding?
Typically yes. Only a small amount of caffeine passes through your bloodstream, so most babies are not affected by it. If your baby shows sensitivities to caffeine, like fussiness, and irritability, then maybe cut back or discontinue. It’s recommended to not consume more than 300-750 mg. That’s about 2-3 cups of coffee. And don’t forgot, lots of your fav drinks contain caffeine, so check out the amounts to make sure you’re not O-D-ing over there.
Can I drink Alcohol if I’m breastfeeding? Do I have to pump and dump?
Ah yes, the million dollar question. Mamas been waitin’ for that drank for 9+ months! So here’s the thing. Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for baby. Lets just get that out there. But if you need to unwind a little, here’s a few things to know.
Very little alcohol enters your breastmilk. It also leaves your breastmilk at the same rate it leaves your blood stream. According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption is not known to be harmful for your infant. There really is no reason to pump and dump. And don’t even both with those test strips. They suck and can often give you a false positive. Save your money.
A good rule of thumb is, if you’re sober enough to safely care for and hold your baby, you’re fine to breastfeed. If you don’t feel comfortable nursing after you’ve had a drink, you can always combine that milk with milk you’ve previously pumped when you weren’t drinking.
This is not a free pass to turn up mama! Have fun, and be smart.
Where can I find help for breastfeeding?
There so many resources around you to get help with breastfeeding. You can contact your local hospital, since many of them have lactation classes. You local La Lech League tends to have meetings and support groups.
If you don’t have somewhere you can go locally, you can get help virtually as well. There are tons of Facebook groups that offer amazing breastfeeding support. There are also many IBCLCs that offer support through online video chats as well!
What is infant mortality?
Infant mortality refers to the death of children under the age of one years old. Infant mortality rate is found by taking the number of newborns in a specific geographic location, dying under the age of one, divided by the total number of live births in that area, and multiplied by 1,000.
Did this post help you?
I really hope some of the answers helped you. I’ll be updating this post often. You’ve probably seen a question you’ve had before. So you see, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one that had these questions. Don’t be afraid to ask! There’s so many resources and professionals willings to help you along your journey.