While I was still pregnant, I read a few pregnancy books that touched upon breastfeeding but taking a breastfeeding course and then working directly with a lactation consultant once Thomas arrived was so incredibly helpful.
Today, the lactation consultant I’ve worked with the most — Katie Pipinich of Best Life, Simplified — is here to answer some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about breastfeeding! She is also offering a discount code to my followers for her breastfeeding course so use code FOODIE10 for 10% off! I took her course and referenced it multiple times – it’s great!
If breastfeeding is a good option for you, it has lots of benefits for baby and mom. It provides excellent nutrition to the baby, may decrease your baby’s risk of allergies and lactose intolerance, increases baby’s resistance to infections, decreases the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size, and more.
I hope these breastfeeding FAQs with answers right from a lactation consultant are helpful if you’re you’re expecting or are a new mom. And if you are starting your pregnancy journey, I have a lot more resources for you here!
Take it away Katie!
Hi there! I am Katie Pipinich, a registered dietitian/certified lactation consultant and owner of Best Life, Simplified. I am so excited to be featured as a guest on Teri’s blog today! In fact, I have been an avid reader of A Foodie Stays Fit since 2010! I am also on Teri’s Beautycounter team and was so thrilled when she reached out to me for support in her breastfeeding journey!
In today’s post, I am going to talk about all things breastfeeding. I will answer some of the most common questions that I get asked while working with clients (and friends and family).
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life with continued breastfeeding with complementary foods for 12 months or longer. There is amazing research to support this recommendation due to the many benefits that breastfeeding provides for mom and baby. The cells, hormones and antibodies in breastmilk protect babies from certain illnesses. Research shows that breastfed babies have much lower risks of developing asthma, obesity, eczema, lower respiratory infections, SIDS and type 2 diabetes.
The benefits of breastfeeding for moms include decreased postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine shrinking, decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With all of these benefits in mind, it is best to talk to your doctor or lactation counselor about your infant feeding goals/plan. Breastfeeding is not indicated in all situations and it is important to remember that FED IS BEST! While I am a huge advocate for women to succeed in their breastfeeding journeys, I am also a huge advocate for women to feel confident in their ability to choose what works best for them. As a lactation consultant and dietitian, I truly believe that babies can be fed formula, breastmilk or a combination of the two and be healthy and happy.
Alright, let’s dive into the questions!
If mom and baby are both stable and doing well, it is best for baby to go directly on mom’s chest after birth for skin to skin! Skin to skin has AMAZING benefits for mom and baby. Talk to your doctor about this before delivery so you are able to experience skin to skin time with your baby. It is recommended that baby remain skin to skin for up to two hours if possible. During this initial skin to skin time, you will want to start trying to latch your baby (ideally within one hour of birth).
The first milk that your baby will receive is called colostrum. Many medical professionals refer to this as liquid gold because of its many nutrients and antibodies. Colostrum helps your baby’s digestive system to grow and work properly. Colostrum will generally change to “regular” breastmilk by 3-5 days post delivery (some women experience this sooner and some later). You will notice that the milk coming out of your breast changes from golden and thick to white and thinner. Some women will experience engorgement when their milk comes in and some will only notice a subtle change. Remember that your baby is nourished by the colostrum during the first few days of life!!
The length of each feeding session varies. For most newborn babies, a feeding can last from 10-45 minutes. Feeding sessions will usually get shorter as baby gets older and more efficient at pulling milk from the breast.
Babies show a variety of feeding cues when they are hungry and ready to nurse! You will start to learn your baby’s cues. Some common feeding cues are putting their hands to their mouth, rooting, smacking their lips and stirring in their sleep. It is best to catch them as early as possible to allow time to latch them appropriately before they are overly hungry and crying!
In my opinion, this is the most difficult part of the first few days to weeks after delivery!
It is so important to request a lactation consultant when you are still in the hospital to help assess your latch. The first days after baby is born, you are both so exhausted and you just want baby to latch so you can comfort them. This makes it really easy to lose sight of what a good latch looks like!
A few key things to assess to determine if baby is latched correctly are to make sure baby is belly to belly with mom, hips are stacked and baby’s head is straight without any rotation in the neck. To make sure that the latch is deep enough, you want baby’s lips to be flanged out with their face snuggled in closely to mom (making sure there is a small triangle by baby’s nose for them to breath). It is also important to make sure baby is not making any clicking or popping sounds.
Lastly, your nipples should not be splitting or bleeding. I always explain to moms that it will be uncomfortable for the first few weeks because your nipples are getting used to the new sensation of baby sucking but you should not be in pain when you are feeding. If you have any concerns about latch/positioning, please reach out to a lactation consultant early so that they can help you troubleshoot and improve latch!
This is the point that I love most about my job as a lactation consultant. It is such an amazing feeling to be empower moms to feel like they have all of the tools necessary to successfully breastfeed their baby!
Questions about milk supply is probably the most common question I receive! And this question will likely come up throughout your breastfeeding journey, not just in the beginning. The best ways to know if your baby is getting enough breastmilk is by regularly checking their weight gain with their pediatrician and/or lactation consultant. It is also important to monitor for adequate wet and poopy diapers—your pediatrician will give you the guidelines for what to look for related to this.
You will also be able to read your baby’s body language. Generally, babies will be showing feeding cues such as hands in mouth, crying, or rooting when they are hungry. They typically have their bodies more tense and fists clenched when hungry. After a successful feeding, baby will appear relaxed, fists unclenched and sometimes even be asleep or “milk drunk”. Your breasts will also feel less full after a successful feeding.
If you truly have concerns about your milk production, I’d encourage you to work with an IBLCL or a lactation consultant to evaluate what may be contributing and what can help.
This is a hard question because all babies are different! Newborn babies will generally eat between 8 and 12 times in a 24 hour period. It is important to watch for feeding cues and feed on demand. Your pediatrician will give you advice about how long they suggest you let baby sleep between feedings. I go into a lot more detail about this in my Best Life, Breastfeeding course!
It is best to feed on one breast until baby stops sucking and either appears full and content or still hungry as if they are no longer getting adequate milk from that side. Some babies will only feed on one breast at each feeding session. If this is the case, you will want to make sure to start with the opposite breast for the next feeding. I review strategies for remembering which side you were due to feed on in my course. If you have concerns about if you are alternating sides correctly, reach out to me or a local lactation consultant because it can be confusing at first!
Your pediatrician will go over burping with you at your baby’s well child visits! In my experience, burping after each feeding is best. If your baby feeds on both sides during the feeding session, you should try to burp baby after each breast.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods for at least one year. However, you need to do what’s best for you and baby! If breastfeeding is not the best choice for you and/or baby, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There are amazing baby formulas that will provide great nutrition for your baby.
It is best to reach out to a lactation consultant or your medical provider if you are having issues with your supply. Sometimes the drop in supply is temporary and will increase without any interventions. I always recommend making sure that you are eating adequate calories and drinking plenty of fluids to maintain supply.
I recommend taking a breastfeeding course before baby arrives if possible! I also think it is important to request to see a lactation consultant after delivery in the hospital and again during baby’s first week of life—even if things seem to be going great! There are very subtle latch issues that can cause a lot of pain for mom and feeding issues for baby if they are not corrected early. I also encourage you to continually reach out to a lactation consultant throughout your feeding journey. It is so helpful to have someone rely on for support, encouragement and problem-solving because breastfeeding is very daunting at times. I offer several services through my website including virtual visits, in-person visits (if local) and long-term email or text support. Feel free to reach out to me for any questions or concerns!!
I hope these answers make you feel more confident in your breastfeeding journey! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for more personalized questions or if I can help support your feeding goals in any way! I offer virtual consults and ongoing email/text support.
And I’d love to help you start your breastfeeding journey with my course called Best Life, Breastfeeding. This course is self-guided and will make you feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding. Use code FOODIE10 for 10% off!
Thank you so much Katie!! You’ve been an incredible resource for me and Tommy, Thomas and I are all grateful!!