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Author: TLN

10 Common Breastfeeding Questions



Expert answers to your pressing breastfeeding questions

While breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feed your baby, it doesn’t always come easily. We built the nation’s largest network of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) to provide breastfeeding families with the resources they need to succeed. To make sure all families have the information they need when they need it, we asked those experts to weigh in on the 10 most common breastfeeding questions.

1. How much colostrum does a newborn need?  

Colostrum is specialized breastmilk, perfectly customized for your babys first days. Thick in consistency, its high in protein and packed with nutrients. Because colostrum is concentrated breastmilk, your baby only needs small amounts at each feed. A full serving of colostrum is about 1 teaspoon, and your baby will feed a minimum of 8-12 times every 24 hours. 

2. When will my breast milk come in?

This is certainly among one of the most common breastfeeding questions for lactation consultants! Your body actually started producing breastmilk (colostrum) between weeks 12-16 of pregnancy! When your baby is born, they will receive colostrum — highly specialized breastmilk — which is perfect for your baby’s first few days.  

Around day 3-5, your milk will transition, increasing in volume. We call this stage transitional milk (Lactogenesis Stage 2). At this stage your milk is a combination of colostrum and mature milk.  

If you are concerned about your breastmilk supply or how much colostrum per feeding is normal for you and your baby, reach out to your IBCLC.

3. Does breastfeeding hurt?

Although many parents report that breastfeeding is pain-free, it’s not uncommon to feel a little nipple tenderness in the first few days after birth as you and baby learn to breastfeed.  

A good latch and proper positioning are essential to breastfeeding comfortably. Your IBCLC is there to provide latching and positioning guidance, and should your nipples get sore, they will also provide a plan of care for nipple healing.

4. How long should I breastfeed my baby? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond. 

Despite those recommendations, only about 25% of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months, and only 36% are breastfed throughout one year. Challenges including perceived insufficient milk, difficulty nursing, and pain while breastfeeding all contribute to these low numbers.  

When setting your breastfeeding goals, consider breaking them down by milestones. Whether you’re breastfeeding your first or fourth child and reach the one-month or two-year mark, celebrate the small wins and benefits you’re giving yourself and your baby. From reducing your baby’s risks for allergies, asthma, SIDS, childhood leukemia, and obesity to lowering your risk of postpartum depression and breast cancer, the health benefits you and your baby will reap make the experience that much better. 

5. Should I wake my newborn to eat?

While it may seem counterintuitive to wake a sleeping baby when you’re already sleep-deprived, it’s recommended for the first few days after birth. During that time, it’s crucial to feed your baby frequently to ensure steady weight gain and stimulate your milk production. Your pediatrician will provide you with guidance, and let you know when you can stop waking your baby to feed. Typically, babies reach that milestone around two weeks. 

6. What medication is safe to use while breastfeeding?

Before taking any medications while breastfeeding, make sure to first talk to your doctor. Some medications do transfer into breast milk. However, most do so at low levels and don’t pose a risk to infants. It’s important to also be mindful of the possibility that some decongestants could impact your supply, so consider all of the factors before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication. Weighing the risks and benefits of a particular medication with your doctor is important! 

7. Should I wear a bra while breastfeeding? If so, how many nursing bras do I need?

Nursing bras are a must for many breastfeeding parents. Well-placed clasps provide easy access to the breast while nursing. Look for comfortable nursing bras that provide support, but don’t have underwires. Nursing tanks are also pretty amazing for easy access when nursing your baby. 

La Leche League recommends having at least three nursing bras. This way, you have one to wear, one in the wash, and an extra — because, let’s face it, babies are messy. Whether you wear a nursing bra while breastfeeding is totally up to you — there are no “rules” for breastfeeding. Just do whatever feels the most comfortable for you and your baby.

8. How can I get my baby to latch?

Latching is a learned skill, for both baby and parent. Taking a prenatal breastfeeding class and meeting with an IBCLC prenatally preps you with techniques and what to reasonably expect.  

If your baby’s birth takes place in a hospital, the nurses and IBCLC on staff will help you both latch the first few days.  

However, if you’re having difficulty achieving a deep, comfortable latch once you’re home, reach out to your IBCLC for support

9. How long does it take to get your period after having a baby?

Parents who choose not to breastfeed can expect their cycle to return six to eight weeks after baby is born. But for breastfeeding parents, especially those who are exclusively breastfeeding, your period may not resume for several months, or until breastfeeding concludes. One thing to note: Even if your period has not returned, it is still possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding. That’s because ovulation precedes menstruation during your monthly cycle. Once it’s safe for sex (typically four to six weeks postpartum with vaginal delivery), be sure to talk with your doctor about birth control options that are safe while breastfeeding unless you’re ready for another baby! 

10. How can I even out milk supply in both

It’s normal to have a “slacker boob,” or one that produces less milk than the other breast. Sometimes, babies have a breast preference, or parents have a more comfortable position when breastfeeding or using a breast pump on one side. This is usually nothing to worry about — and as long as you and your little one are comfortable and your baby is gaining weight appropriately, nothing needs to change. 

If the difference in volume is extreme, or the amount of milk production is causing a problem for you or baby, reach out to your IBCLC. They will assess you and your baby and provide you both with a plan of care.  

For more answers to common breastfeeding questions and for one-on-one support, make an appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) through The Lactation Network. Our IBCLCs are here to provide accurate, helpful information and support to breastfeeding families. We’ll handle the insurance billing process so you can get the care you deserve with no hassle. 

Get the care you deserve

We’re here for you, every step of the way. We work with your insurance to provide in-home, in-office, or telehealth visits with an IBCLC.