Like pregnancy and delivery, breastfeeding is a unique experience for every mom and child, and most moms (first-timers and veterans) have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. Here we’ve provided answers for some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as some incredible resources for more questions you might have.
1. When will my milk come in?
Milk production actually begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. At that time, your body begins making colostrum, a special milk that’s full of essential nutrients and easy for newborns to digest.
Your milk supply will switch into overdrive about 30-40 hours after you’ve delivered your placenta. By that time, the change in your hormones has signaled to your body that it’s time to feed your baby.
If you’re a first-time mom, your milk will change from colostrum and increase in quantity and change about two to five days after you deliver. If you’re a veteran mom, you may experience a quicker increase in supply, simply because your body knows what to expect.
Read more about milk supply at Kelly Mom.
2. How long should my baby nurse at each feeding?
There isn’t a set time limit for nursing, in fact, many lactation pros advise moms not to “watch the clock.” While you may want to note start and stop times, being focused on how long your baby is feeding may mean you’ll miss cues from your baby. The length of feedings can depend on so many factors, and the best rule of thumb is to allow your baby to nurse as long as he’s actively sucking.
Read more about nursing at The Bump.
3. How do I know my baby is eating enough?
As noted above, let your baby’s cues during nursing sessions tell you when she’s eaten enough at that time. Breastfeeding USA lists body language such as “Baby’s hands are open and relaxed” or “Baby’s body feels relaxed” and “Baby may fall asleep.”
The best way to track overall nutrition is through bowel movements and wet diapers. The “magic number” changes over time, but from birth to around six weeks, your baby should have six to eight wet diapers and at least two bowel movements each day.
If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t getting enough nutrition, talk to your pediatrician.
Read more ways to know your baby is well fed at BreastFeeding Inc.
4. My baby seems to eat all day, am I not producing enough?
Babies don’t nurse only for nutrition; breastfeeding can also be a source of comfort and companionship. If your baby seems to be cluster feeding, he may be getting ready for or going through a growth spurt. Typical ages for infant growth spurts are around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 9 weeks. During these times your baby may want to eat more so your body knows to produce more milk.
Read more on frequent nursing from Kelly Mom.
5. When should I start introducing solids?
UNICEF, American Academy of Pediatricians, and many other health organizations recommend exclusively breastfeeding until your baby is at least six months old, at which point you can begin introducing solid foods. This gives your baby’s digestive tract time to mature and ensures she’s getting the specific nutrients and immunities she needs from your breast milk.
Read more about infant nutrition from the World Health Organization.
6. Does my baby wake up at night because I’m breastfeeding?
The short answer? No. Your baby may wake up because he’s hungry, lonely, or uncomfortable (too hot or cold). She may also be teething or getting ready to reach a developmental milestone like rolling over or sitting up. Many breastfed babies can be soothed back to sleep by nursing, so it’s up to you how to address night nursing.
Read more about babies and sleep patterns from Dr. Jenny Thomas, MD, MPH, IBCLC.
7. When is it OK to stop waking my baby to feed?
A good rule of thumb is that if your baby is back up to birth weight and is gaining weight well then you no longer need to wake them up to feed them. For example, you will know if your baby is getting enough to eat by their weight gain and how many wet/dirty diapers they have. If your baby is not waking to nurse and is not gaining weight well, then be sure to reach out to your pediatrician and lactation consultant.
Read more about nursing and sleepy baby at Breastfeeding Basics.
8. Do I really need a nursing bra?
Nursing bras are specially designed to provide you the support and access you need as your breasts change during your breastfeeding journey. Traditional bras are often too constrictive on your breasts, they may not allow your skin to breathe well, or the material may irritate your already sensitive nipples. Most nursing bras also feature cups designed to pull aside or clip down to allow you to get your baby latched on faster.
Read more about bra fitting and Choosing the Right Bra.
9. I am going back to work soon, when should I start pumping?
A good time to start building up your supply is about two weeks before you head back to work. Pump right after your morning feed, for about 10 minutes. Even though you might not get much at first, pumping tells your body to make more milk than it’s used to, so with continued pumping at the same time each day your body will start to increase your milk production allowing you to have extra to pump and save. Keep in mind that you don’t need a huge freezer stash for returning to work. You just need enough to get you through your first day or two back since while you are at work, you will be pumping when your baby is eating to make up for what they ate that day.
Read more about expressing milk from Work and Pump.
10. How should I store my breast milk?
There are plenty of storage containers for moms who pump: bags, glass jars, plastic bottles, etc. Choose whatever works best for your style pump and the space you have in your fridge or freezer. When storing your milk remember that milk can be left at room temperature for 4-8 hours, in the refrigerator for 4-6 days, and in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Read more about temperatures and storage times from the CDC.
11. Can I continue breastfeeding if I am pregnant?
For the most part, yes. Make sure to touch base with your OB or Midwife at your prenatal visits, but unless you have an underlying medical condition or notice a huge drop in supply, you should be able to continue nursing throughout your next pregnancy. You may even be able to tandem feed after delivering.
Read more about pregnancy and breastfeeding at La Leche League International.
What other questions do you have? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll help you find the answers. Your question may even be featured on a future blog!
- Sutter Health: Breastfeeding Frequency
- Kelly Mom: Newborn Nursing
- Baby Center: How Long Is My Baby Supposed to Nurse in One Sitting?
- Parents.com: Newborn Nursing Tips
- Kelly Mom: Is Baby Ready for Solid Foods? (What Do the Experts Say?)
- Kelly Mom: Is Baby Ready for Solid Foods? (Developmental Signs of Readiness)
- Kelly Mom: Sleeping through the Night
- Kelly Mom: Hunger Cues: When Do I Feed Baby?
- Kelly Mom: How Much Expressed Milk Will My Baby Need?
- Work and Pump: Milk Storage