Common New Mum Questions About Breastfeeding Answered by Lactation Consultants
Becoming a new mum is a wonderful thing but can also be a challenging time. Starting to breastfeed can be difficult if you have a lack of lactation support, so we wanted to answer some of the questions that new mums had about starting their breastfeeding journey. Read more below on a variety of topics on all things breastfeeding!
One of the best ways to get breastfeeding support for new mums is to work with your midwife team and doctors before you leave hospital. However, if, once you get home you still have questions, you might find that you’re unsure where to get advice from. We’ve asked our in-house lactation consultants to answer some of the most common questions new mums have about starting their breastfeeding journey.
How often should I breastfeed?
Most mums worry about this! Since there are so many benefits of breastfeeding, it is very important to get off to a good start. Many women worry if their breastfeeding activity is “normal.” The truth is women have been breastfeeding for millions of years but there is no average or normal; every baby and mother is unique.
For example, according to Medela research, infants can breastfeed between 4 and 13 times per day, with a duration ranging from 12 to 67 minutes per feeding session. The range of normal for milk consumed during a breastfeeding session ranges from 54-234 ml. The number of daily feedings typically reduces to 5, 6, or 8 times per day as the baby gets older and the baby stomach grows to accommodate more milk.
Babies also have unique feeding patterns – 30% only take one breast, 13% always take both breasts, and 57% mix it up! 64% of babies feed both day and night. For most mothers and babies who are both in good health, breastfeeding can present a wide range of experiences, challenges and wonderful moments of connection - embrace them all! This wide range of ‘average’ is perfectly normal.
How will I know whether my baby is getting enough milk?
We don’t see how much milk a baby is drinking from the outside, but we do know that breastfed babies feed more often than formula fed babies, because breastmilk is easier to digest. The best way to make sure that your baby is getting “enough” milk is to pay attention to the baby’s pattern of wetting and soiling nappies. At the beginning, the baby will wet six to eight cloth nappies a day, or five or six disposables. During the first month, your baby will produce at least three stools a day. If your baby looks satisfied, is gaining weight (150g and more a week in average) and produces enough dirty nappies, you can be assured that all is going well.
How do I prevent sore nipples?
During the first few days of breastfeeding, most mums feel nipple soreness as they start to get accustomed to this new sensation of the strong suckling force from the baby. Some mothers will experience painful nipples or cracked nipples – some babies suck more powerfully than others, or might have a bad latch that creates rubbing, pulling and discomfort. One way to prevent sore nipples is to express a little extra milk after breastfeeding, spread the milk on the nipple and areola, and then air dry. Breastmilk has curative powers!
It’s also important to have a good latch – this is where the baby is belly to belly to the mother and his mouth is at the height of the breast. If the baby is latching on properly, he will have not only the nipple but the areola as well in his mouth. Suction is instinctive – but latching is not – so the baby has to learn along with you. Learning how to latch on properly is really important and it often requires some practice. Experiment with different positions of holding the baby or reclining with the baby to find the right arrangement that works for both of you. Learning how to latch-on is very important, because if the baby is not getting the milk out, you will not make new milk – breastfeeding is a demand and supply system – so if the baby is not latching properly, your milk might dry up.
If latching problems are causing you to have sore nipples, you may want to consider nipple shields or Purelan cream for sore nipples or to relieve breastfeeding challenges.