Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know Most

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and baby, and it is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that infants are breastfed, even if only for a short time.

Breastfeeding can be difficult at times and a lot of questions could arise, which is why myself and other lactation consultants at UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics are here for you and your baby, right from the start. Keep in mind the below takeaways that we’d like you to know most about breastfeeding.

Latching and positioning are important for maternal comfort and good milk transfer.

To position your baby comfortably, be sure the baby’s ear, shoulder and hip are aligned and their tummy is facing your body. There shouldn’t be any space between mom and baby. When latching, support the breast, aim the nipple at baby’s nose, tickle baby’s lips, and when baby opens wide, bring your baby to the breast chin-first.

While feeding may be a bit uncomfortable in the first week, it shouldn’t be painful and you shouldn’t have broken skin on your nipples.

A wide latch is essential to comfortable nursing. If you have sore nipples, an in-person visit with a lactation consultant should be part of your plan. Nipple shields are not recommended for sore nipples. Self-treatment might include lanolin or another healing barrier cream, hydrogel pads or saline rinses.

Milk supply is dependent on milk removal.

Babies need to nurse early and often for a good supply to be established, as feedings in the early days set the hormone receptors for long-term milk supply. Any time a baby misses a feeding at the breast, milk supply can decrease. If your baby won’t nurse, pump to maintain breast milk production.

Babies need to eat frequently.

Eating 8 to 12 times in 24 hours is normal for a newborn, and sometimes babies will cluster feed – wanting to nurse every hour for a few hours. This may happen before or after a long stretch of sleep or during a growth spurt.

Your baby does not need formula supplements in the early days just because your milk is not in.

Your colostrum, fed frequently, is enough. The more stimulation your breasts get, the sooner your milk will “come in.” While there are some medical situations where your baby may need to be supplemented, your own milk or donor milk is preferred to formula.

Pumping isn’t a good indicator of how much milk your baby is getting.

Your baby is more efficient than any pump. Some women have trouble letting down to a pump, making it look like their supplies are low. For more productive pumping, make sure you are relaxed, warm and try to not multitask. Massage your breast before and during pumping.

Sleeping through the night is not an indicator of a “good baby.”

Every baby is unique, and infant sleep changes as your baby develops. Nighttime feedings can be essential for a good milk supply, as your prolactin levels are higher in the evening. If your baby has slow weight gain, feeding at night can help.

If you are having trouble breastfeeding, UPMC CCP has board certified lactation consultants in several of its offices. Learn more about lactation consulting at UPMC CCP.