Answers to common questions about breastfeeding

Answering your questions about breastfeeding.
Answering your questions about breastfeeding.

We really enjoyed answering some of the most common breastfeeding questions during our live chat on Aug. 5, 2015. Three doctors and two lactation consultants – including Dawn Schindler, R.N., B.S.N., IBCLC, RLC from Children’s Health – offered tips and helpful information about breastfeeding on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

In case you missed the chat or weren’t able to join us, here’s a summary:

Q:
How does breast milk benefit the baby?
A:

Breastfed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children. They are less likely to develop juvenile diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer before age 15.

Q:
How does breastfeeding benefit the mother?
A:

Moms who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life. They have a lower risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. In addition, breastfeeding moms are able to lose pregnancy weight more easily.

Q:
Does every new mother need a breast pump?
A:

If your baby is breastfeeding well and you don’t anticipate separation, you may never use a pump. Many women get a breast pump or make arrangements to get one prior to delivery. Breast pumps are readily available through insurance coverage.

Sometimes pumping breast milk is helpful in the early weeks. Two alternatives are expressing breast milk by hand or using a handheld breast pump.

Q:
What breastfeeding tips do you have for moms who work outside the home?
A:

There are many return-to-work strategies for successful breastfeeding and ample milk supply. We recommend feeding your baby on cue before returning to work to get your milk supply in line with baby’s needs. It’s also a good idea to let your baby practice taking a bottle before you go back to work.

You may want to consider working from home if that’s possible. If you need to be back in the office, here are some tips that can help:

  • Arrange a private place to pump with your employer before you return to work.
  • Practice using your breast pump to ease frustration when you return to work.
  • Visit your baby to breastfeed during your break time.
  • It’s OK to supplement breastfeeding with formula feeding.
  • Don’t let breastfeeding challenges define you as a mother.
  • Be flexible. Working and breastfeeding can be challenging, but it’s worth it.

For more helpful hints, check out Dr. Lo’s post on 5 tips for successful breastfeeding.

Q:
How soon after childbirth can I start breastfeeding?
A:

Many newborns are responsive to breastfeeding within the first hour of birth. We encourage skin-to-skin contact as early as possible to promote breastfeeding.

In those first few hours after birth, it’s more important for babies to feed frequently than for them to feed for long periods. Colostrum, the first milk you will produce, has a yellow color and has a thicker consistency than mature breast milk. It is loaded with protein, carbs, and antibodies. Your mature breast milk will come in 3 to 5 days after childbirth.

Remember, some babies don’t take to breastfeeding right away. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Breastfeeding difficulties are very common for new mothers, so don’t give up quickly.

Q:
How does a mother stop breastfeeding?
A:

The most important thing to remember when you want to stop breastfeeding is to do it gradually. This process is called weaning. If you stop breastfeeding suddenly, it could be painful for you.

Weaning and the decision to wean may occur in several phases. Gradual weaning can make it a positive experience for both mother and baby.

Q:
What are some tips about breastfeeding in public?
A:

It is the law that mothers can breastfeed in public. If you’re planning to try it for the first time, do what is comfortable for you and your baby. It helps to feel comfortable with the process of breastfeeding before you do it in a public place.

When you’re preparing to breastfeed in public, we recommend wearing clothing that is easy to lift up rather than unbutton. Some mothers use a sling to breastfeed in public, and some choose to cover the baby while breastfeeding. A lot of it comes down to personal preference.

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