Before we start with anything, I want to clarify that the breastfeeding journey is not for everyone due to different reasons and personal choices, and you should never feel bad if that is not your way. Fed is the best, so you do what works best for you.
For new moms, the breastfeeding journey is an incredible bonding experience filled with love and nourishment. Well, love, nourishment, bonding and utter panic. It wasn’t part of my journey with my firstborn, and she thrived on a combination of baby formula and pumped milk, transferring to completely formula feeding after six months. This is why it caught me utterly off guard with my second one. I had so many questions, doubts and concerns I felt I couldn’t share with anyone. I should’ve been natural in this and not struggled. Did anyone else feel like this?
But the truth is that it’s natural to have questions which is why I have collected the most common questions new moms often have during their breastfeeding journey. Hopefully, it will help with your struggles, as it eased mine.
How Do I Know if My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk?
One of the most common concerns for new moms is ensuring their baby is getting enough milk. It was so easy with my first one; I just had to look at her bottle and calculate how much she had during the day. Now, I always wonder if she has enough. If you have the same question as me, I have the answer. You should look for signs of adequate milk intake which are 6 to 8 wet diapers a day, steady weight gain, and if the baby seems content after feedings. If the baby happily stops feeding or falls into a milk coma, they are getting enough. Trust your body and your baby’s cues, and remember that breast milk is perfectly tailored to meet your baby’s needs. The baby impacts your supply by demanding more if needed. If you still feel doubtful or the baby does not look happy after the feeding, contact your medical provider and ask for advice.
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Newborns have tiny tummies and need frequent feedings – it can range from 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. First 2 months, my baby was demanding feedings every 3 hours, but even that would change if she was experiencing a leap or developing something new. As your baby grows, the feeding frequency usually decreases, and hopefully, they will start having longer stretches without feeding throughout the night. Follow your baby’s hunger cues and offer the breast whenever they show signs of hunger, such as rooting or sucking on their fists.
How Can I Increase my Milk Supply?
Breast milk supply is often a concern for new moms. I never feel I have enough milk, even though my baby is living proof I do. To boost your milk supply, nurse your baby frequently, stay well-hydrated, maintain a balanced diet, and get enough rest. Skin-to-skin contact and using breast compression during feedings can also stimulate milk flow. The truth is that there are no special tricks, just look after yourself and give your body a chance to do its thing.
Is It Normal for Breastfeeding to Be Painful?
Breastfeeding should not be painful. While some discomfort during the initial latch is common, you should not feel persistent pain. This may indicate a latch issue or other problems. TMI, but for example, I always feel a little discomfort as I have inverted nipples, but as soon as she starts feeding, the pain is gone. Still, I wanted to be sure that is ok, so I asked for help from a lactation consultant. You can also contact a breastfeeding support group to address any breastfeeding challenges.
How Can I Handle Engorgement and Leaking Milk?
Engorgement, a feeling of fullness and swelling of the breasts, is expected in the early days of breastfeeding. To alleviate discomfort, nurse frequently, apply warm compresses before feeding, and use cold compresses between feedings. Leaking milk can be managed with nursing pads or simply tucking a soft cloth into your bra. Nursing pads are my constant companions even five months after birth, as sometimes it is enough to hear any baby crying to start leaking.
Can I Breastfeed in Public?
Absolutely! Breastfeeding in public is a natural and protected right in many places. If you’re concerned about nursing in public, practice at home with a supportive friend or family member. There are also nursing covers and clothing designed to provide privacy if desired. I don’t prefer breastfeeding in public as my baby needs to see everything happening, pulling my nipple into oblivion every time she turns her head. Sometimes I will express and prepare a bottle for her if I know there will be a lot of stimulation; in other cases, I will try to find a more secluded spot and feed her without as many distractions.
How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding alongside complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. However, the duration of breastfeeding is a personal decision. Breastfeed for as long as it feels right for you and your baby. I always joke that I will stop when her teeth start coming out.
What Can I Do if I’m Returning to Work?
If you’re returning to work, you can continue breastfeeding by pumping and storing breast milk for your baby. Plan ahead, establish a pumping routine, and talk to your employer about a supportive pumping space. Many workplaces are required to provide this accommodation.
How Can I Handle Nighttime Feedings?
Nighttime feedings are a normal part of breastfeeding, especially in the early months. Create a cosy and comfortable sleep environment, and keep your baby’s sleep space close to your bed for convenient nighttime feedings. We chose to have her crib next to my side of the bed so I could easily lift her and put her back without disturbing her much. You can also look into cosleepers, an excellent solution for the first few months. I decided against a cosleeper during the night as I wanted her to get used to sleeping in her crib from the start. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a cosleeper but used it as a separate bed we used in the living room.
Remember, breastfeeding is a learning journey for both you and your baby. Seek support from lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, and other moms who have gone through similar experiences. Trust your instincts and enjoy the special bond you’re building with your little one. The breastfeeding journey is a beautiful and empowering chapter of motherhood – embrace it with love and confidence. Happy breastfeeding!