Frequently Asked Questions: Breastfeeding
- Do doctors recommend breastfeeding for most babies?
All major medical groups worldwide recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months after birth. During these months, breastfed babies do not need any other foods or drinks, not even water. Once your baby reaches six months of age, he or she can start eating different foods. We encourage you to continue breastfeeding after your baby starts complementary foods, for at least the first year after the birth or beyond if you and your baby desire.
- When should I start breastfeeding?
The ideal is to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, usually within the first hour. “Skin-to-skin contact”, where the dried, naked baby is laid directly on your bare chest and covered with a warm blanket right after birth, can help your baby learn how to breastfeed.
By the time your baby is born, your breasts are already producing colostrum, also known as early milk. Colostrum is a rich, slightly thick-appearing, yellowish fluid that contains nutrients (mostly protein) and antibodies that will protect your baby from infections. Your body will produce only a small amount of early milk (colostrum) two to five days after birth, and after this time, you will start making more milk.
- Is my baby nursing correctly?
Signs of optimal nursing are:
- The baby’s mouth is wide open with lips turned out
- Most of the areola is in the baby’s mouth
- The nipple is far back in the baby’s mouth
- The baby’s lips, nose, and chin are all close to the breast
- The baby is suckling rhythmically and deeply, in short bursts separated by pauses
- The mother can hear the baby swallowing regularly
- There is no nipple discomfort or pain after the first few suckles
A good “latch-on” helps the baby get enough milk and prevents the mother from feeling pain.
- How often should I feed my baby, and how long should a feeding last?
The best feeding schedule is the one the babies design for themselves. You should breastfeed your baby when he or she shows cues of being hungry. Examples of these cues are when the baby wakes up from sleep and is alert; when he or she moves the head around as if looking for something (the breast); and when he or she sucks on hands, lips, or tongue. Crying is a late cue of hunger.
The schedule and the duration of feeding sessions will depend on the baby. Some babies finish feeding in a couple of minutes, while others might require 15 minutes or longer.
- Is my baby eating enough breast milk?
Signs to estimate whether the baby is getting enough breast milk are:
- By the fourth to fifth day after birth, the baby has at least six wet diapers per day with clear or pale-yellow urine.
- The baby has four or more bowel movements per day by day four.
- The average baby loses four to five ounces within the first few days of life. Babies that are eating犀利士
well typically regain their weight by two weeks of age. Ask your pediatrician or nurse for the weight progress.
- Should I call the pediatrician or lactation consultant?
Call your pediatrician or lactation consultant if you have:
- Swollen, stiff, painful breasts that do not get better after letting milk out or using an ice pack or pain medicine to treat the pain
- A fever and a hard, red, and swollen area of the breast
- A blocked milk duct (red and painful breast lumps) that does not get better
- Blood leaking from the nipples
- Pain that lasts for the whole breastfeeding sessions
With support, most mothers can successfully breastfeed their newborns. In case of any doubts, concerns, or fears, you should not hesitate to call your pediatrician or lactation consultant.
Estefanía Henríquez Luthje, MD