How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?
Output is very predictive of input. If a baby by a week of age is having 6-8 wet diapers and several yellow seedy stools it is a sign of getting enough. Different babies act differently as they eat and that can be rather confusing to parents. One of the best articles I have seen that explains this is located here.
Is exclusive breastfeeding that important?
All the benefits of breastfeeding you read about are dose dependent. So if you can meet your baby’s nutritional needs by exclusively breastfeeding that is the best thing for your baby. If you think your baby is not getting enough to eat then you may want to meet with a lactation consultant to improve baby’s latch, or ability to remove milk from your breast so you can continue to only give your milk. If you do need to give something else to meet baby’s nutritional needs then having a plan on how to increase your supply would be important so you can move back to exclusive breastfeeding as soon as possible.
More information on exclusive breastfeeding:
Are there foods I can eat to increase my milk supply?
I often tell mom to start with Oatmeal (not the instant as there are less nutrients in it). A oatmeal cookie in the afternoon is a good help also. There are recipes on Pinterest for “Lactation Cookies”. Here is a great list of additional foods to try. But remember if your supply is struggling you may want to meet with me so we can determine why you are worried about your milk supply.
My milk is in and I am very swollen. Now what should I do?
This is called engorgement. It is very common especially with your first child. It is critical that you get milk to moving out. Some mom try a warm shower and massage their breasts as the water runs over them. This may help to release the milk. You will need to have baby ready to feed as soon as you step out and let baby empty the milk. If baby is having trouble latching onto the full breast trying hand expressing or pump your milk out a bit.
Sometimes the opposite approach can work. Instead of warmth try cool compresses. This sometimes reduces the swelling and allow the milk room to move. Gently stroking the breast from the nipple to your armpits, then to your collar bone and then down to under the breast may also remove the swelling.
More ideas are here.
How do I hand express my milk?
Hand expression can help increase to volume of milk and is often more effect than an electric breast pump during the first few days.
I have had breast surgery in my past. Will this impact my milk production?
Yes, it may have an effect even if you were assured by the physician that it would not. Careful follow up is helpful to ensure baby is able to remove milk from your breasts. The best website out there that can give you answers and guidance is bfar.org (breastfeeding after reduction)- although they discuss any kind of breast surgery and how to maximize your success.
My 3 week old baby has not stooled (pooped) for a week. Is that ok?
A baby that is less than 6 weeks should be able to stool daily. Some babies require all calories coming in to meet their caloric needs and will not have much residual to poop out. When babies go through a growth spurt they will nurse like crazy and sometimes quit pooping as regularly. I sometimes worry about the 3 week old but have found it very common in the baby who is two or three months old. By the way look out the day they do poop. There is usually a lot! Some babies will even go a week and not poop. When they do you will notice that the stool is still soft and not hard balls that we would call constipation.
When do I start pumping when I am planning to return to work?
There can be lots to consider when going back to work but lots of families see moms returning to work within a few months. If you are needing to return to work within 6 weeks then it may be necessary to start pumping at least once a day as soon as your milk comes in. Then as you get within a couple of weeks of returning to work you may add one additional pumping each day. Easiest way to pump is put baby on one side and the pump on the other. Do this pumping first thing in the morning when you may have gotten a bit of sleep. This early morning pumping uses your naturally higher levels of prolactin (the milk making hormone). The late afternoon is the lowest level of prolactin so baby will need access to both sides instead you trying to pump. But with the early morning pumping your breasts think baby is really hungry and can make some extra. When baby is finished put baby on the side you just pumped and the pump on the side baby finished. Your body will make some extra.
Here’s some great info for when your back at work and pumping:
How long can I store my breastmilk.
You may see many different recommendations on how long to store your milk. If you need an easy to remember tool this may help and you won’t need to worry about keeping it too long. 6 hour-6 days- 6 months. 6 hours at room temperature, 6 days in the refrigerator, and 6 months in the freezer. You do need to have a freezer that keeps ice cream very hard to scoop out! Some moms may pump so much milk they go out and buy an additional deep freezer to store their milk in.
You can read more about getting your milk safe on your blog. http://www.barbsbabies.com/keep-calm-and-pump-on/
How big should my stash be before I go back to work?
That would depend on how much time you have before you go back to work. The more milk you pump the more secure you may feel that baby will only get breast milk. But you mostly need to stay a couple of days ahead of baby’s needs. Just do the best you can.
When do I start giving water to my baby?
Newborns get all they need liquid wise from breastmilk or formula. When babies are old enough to begin complementary food (usually around 6 mo) you can put a bit of water into a sippy cup for baby to explore. They still don’t NEED the water as they will continue to get enough liquid from their breastmilk or formula.
When can I use a bottle?
Babies take a while to learn how to breastfeed. They may take 3-4 weeks to perfect their latch. If you are planning to go back to work or want the options of using an occasional bottle then you should consider having baby have some bottle experience by the fourth week. It doesn’t have to be every day or a full feeding. But an ounce in a bottle every 2 or 3 days allow experience and success. You can certainly wait longer but many babies balk at taking their milk from a source other than their mom. Here’s an article that may help you.
What is the best breast pump?
It matters a lot as to why you are pumping. If you are pumping to capture milk for when you go get your haircut then a hand pump or just using your hands may be the perfect pump for you. If you are going back to work and plan on pump 3 times or more several times a week you will want a good quality double electric pump. If you are struggling to build a milk supply or have a baby in the NICU then you need a hospital grade pump. Read many reviews from moms to see what they like or don’t like about the pumps. As I have several daughters I gets lots of input on what pumps they like. One of the favorites right now if the Spectra pump. It is reasonably priced and is considered a hospital grade pump. Please check with your insurance company to see what pump they will send to you.
How do I wean from the breast?
There are several ways to wean and stop breastfeeding. The first thing to know is why you are trying to wean. Sometimes it may need to be done fast. This is the hard way and does cause mom more discomfort. But perhaps you require immediate surgery and do not feel that you can continue to pump. This may require using ice packs and only pumping enough to ease discomfort but not enough to empty the breasts.
If you have the luxury of weaning over time here is a great way to do it.
If you have any other questions please contact us.