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Common Breastfeeding Questions

The first weeks of breastfeeding may be the most challenging. It's normal to have fears and questions. Don't worry. The two of you will learn what you need to know together. You'll be surprised how much you and your baby will teach each other. Also, the nurses, doctors, and lactation consultants always are ready and willing to help.  All you have to do is ask!

Here are answers to some questions new mothers often ask:  

Is my baby getting enough milk?
When it comes to feeding your baby, what goes in must come out. You can tell how much milk your baby is getting by keeping track of the baby's diapers:  

24 hours after birth:
Baby should have 1–2 wet diapers and 1–2 soiled diapers.
Days 2 and 3 after birth:
Baby should have 3–4 wet diapers and 2–3 soiled diapers.
Days 4 and 5 after birth:
Baby should have at least 5 to 6 wet diapers and 3 to 4 soiled diapers per day

How can I tell when my baby is hungry?  

Don't wait until your baby cries to feed her. Newborns should be nursed as soon as they show any hunger signs. These include:

  • Increased alertness or activity
  • Rooting reflex (nuzzling against your breast)
  • Smacking her lips or opening and closing her mouth 
  • Sucking on her hand or fingers 
  • Crying 

How often should I feed my baby?

  • Feed your baby as often and as long as she wants — 10–15 minutes on each breast at least every 1.5–3 hours. 
  • You may need to wake your baby for some feedings - don't let your baby sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. 
  • If your baby fusses when feeding, don't worry. Some babies get distracted easily. To calm your baby, choose a quiet place for feeding. It also may help if you breastfeed in the same place in your home each time. 
  • Make sure to burp your baby after each breast. You can do this by holding your baby at your upper chest or sitting your baby on your lap and gently patting or rubbing baby's back.  

Will I spoil my baby?  

Infants can't be spoiled. When your baby needs comfort, food, or holding, she'll try to let you know. When you respond to your baby's needs, you help her trust you. This is a time to shower your baby with love and attend to her needs.

Why is my baby so hungry?  

Babies eat a lot. This is even more true during a growth spurt. Growth spurts usually happen at 2 and 6 weeks of age and again at 3 and 6 months. During these times, your baby will breastfeed more often. Don't be alarmed. Your baby should not need formula or supplements.

Does my baby need extra water or vitamins?   

Mother's milk provides all the fluids and nutrients a baby needs. You should not have to add water, vitamins, or iron during the first six months of breastfeeding. By 6 months of age, start to offer baby foods that contain iron.

Is my baby's weight OK?

It is normal for your baby to lose weight during the first week of life. She then starts to gain again and will be back to her birth weight by the end of the second week.   

Is it normal for my breasts to hurt?

You may feel some discomfort when you start breastfeeding, but it should not hurt. Pain may be caused by:  

Improper latch: 

  • Make sure your baby's tongue is under your nipple and as much of your areola (the dark ring around your nipple) is in the baby's mouth.  
  • Ask your nurse, physician, or lactation consultant to take a look at the latch while you are breastfeeding.     

Engorgement:

  • Engorgement occurs when the breast is too full of milk because you are making more milk than your baby is drinking. This hurts the mother and makes it harder for the infant to nurse. If this happens, try the following:
    • Continue breastfeeding. This is a temporary condition and improves once you learn how to remove excess milk.
    • Express some milk before you breastfeed, either manually or with a breast pump.
    • Use a warm compress (towel soaked in warm water) or take a warm shower before feeding. If this doesn't give relief, try an ice pack.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help with continued pain and is safe to occasionally take during breastfeeding.
    • Seek medical attention if you have fevers, breasts are warm, tender, and red as these could be signs of infection.