Your Common Breastfeeding Questions Answered!
As you start your breastfeeding journey, there may be many questions floating around, and they might make you nervous about your new adventure. As an IBCLC, I would like to provide you with some answers, clarity, and peace of mind by answering some of the most common breastfeeding questions. This is part 1 of the series! Check back for more updates!!
1. When will my milk come in?
This is the number one question that a lactation consultant is asked when talking with new parents. There are a couple of parts to this answer. First, your colostrum (the first milk you produce) starts developing during your second trimester. Some moms may even experience their breasts leaking during the second half of their pregnancy. Once you give birth, a hormonal shift takes place, and your body starts to prepare for mature milk. Second, in the first 3 days of life, an infant’s stomach is tiny (about the size of a cherry), so the small amount of colostrum is exactly what they need. Third, depending on your birth and any interventions that were used, you will notice a switch from a golden yellow color to a more milky white color somewhere between day 3 and 5. **it can take up to 7 days in some cases**
2. I’ve read that it hurts to breastfeed and now I’m nervous. Does it really hurt?
While every mother has a different pain tolerance, the first few days to a week may be slightly uncomfortable. Coming from an IBCLC and a mom of two that breastfed, I can personally say that it is uncomfortable at first. It will be important to put some cream on your nipples after each feed in the first few days. The most common is Lanolin, and you can ask your labor and delivery nurse or lactation consultant for some when you are in the hospital. When using Lanolin, you do not need to wipe it off or clean the nipple before each feed, which is very helpful when you have about 500 other thoughts circling your brain. After the first several days, there should not be any discomfort when the baby is latching or during the nursing session. If there is, this is a red flag to get in contact with a local IBCLC to assess the situation. Sometimes this prolonged pain or discomfort can be from a shallow latch, tongue-tie, thrush, or several other reasons. One session with an IBCLC can help to rectify this issue.
3. How do I know how much milk my infant is getting?
This was always something I needed to wrap my head around as a first and second-time mom. Unlike formula or bottle-fed babies, the amount of milk a breastfed baby takes in is different at every feed. It is important to pay attention to the infant’s diapers throughout a 24 hour period. Based on the age of the infant, the number of wet and soiled diapers will change. Your lactation consultant can give you more information on the specifics. It is also going to be important to learn your infants hunger cues and nurse them when they show these cues. A typical infant will nurse anywhere from 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. There are times when they may be cluster feeding. Cluster feeding: when a baby eats more frequently during a specific part of the day. Some mothers may notice that their infant is feeding every 30 minutes for 2-3 hours every evening. This is because the infant is gearing up for a long night’s sleep, or they are comfort feeding to increase your milk supply because they are growing.