Get support from certified lactation consultants
Deciding to breastfeed is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your baby. Even though breastfeeding is natural, it can still be challenging. It takes practice for both you and your baby. You are not alone. NMC Health has International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) on staff to help you along the way.
While breastfeeding is natural, feeding your baby is a learned skill. It gets easier. The Family Birthing Center at NMC Health is here to support all breastfeeding mothers and help them succeed in their breastfeeding journey.
Breastmilk is the most natural food you can give your baby for the first six months of life. If you plan on breastfeeding your baby or want to learn more information about the benefits of breastfeeding, you can meet with one of our International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in a one-on-one environment.
You can set up an appointment to speak with of our lactation specialists before you give birth. In this prenatal visit we will cover:
- What to expect with breastfeeding while you’re in the hospital
- What you may experience when you and baby go home
- Questions about breast pumps
- The best way to maintain your milk supply
- Any additional questions you have about breastfeeding
Postpartum Breastfeeding Support
Support at the hospital
While you’re at the hospital, our lactation consultants will stop by your private room to make sure breastfeeding is going well. If you need help or have questions with positioning, latch or anything else about feeding your baby, you can ask our lactation consultants and nursing staff at any time during your hospital stay. It’s a great resource for all of our new moms!
Support after you’ve gone home
Our lactation consultants are here to support you throughout your breastfeeding journey and make you feel comfortable. In our one-on-one visits, we will weigh your baby before and after a feeding to make sure breastfeeding is going well. We’ll also make sure your milk is transitioning in as it should. We can also help with:
- Weighing your baby (up to 1 year)
- Positioning and latching issues
- Create a breastfeeding plan
- Monitor milk supply
- Explore possible breast problems (engorgement, mastitis, painful feedings)
- Counsel on returning to work and paced bottle feeding
- Learning how to safely store breast milk
Breast pumps and milk storage
There are several reasons you may want to use a breast pump. Some of these are:
- When going back to work
- When collecting milk for a premature baby
- If you are not able to breastfeed
- To help ease the pain of engorgement
- To help increase your milk supply
When using a breast pump to express milk, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration.
First, it’s important to find the right breast pump for you. Some women prefer manual pumps, in which you squeeze the pump to express your milk. Others prefer electric pumps that have several settings to automatically draw out breastmilk.
Along with pumping, you can also do the following to help maintain your milk supply:
- Breastfeed your baby or pump on a regular schedule to maintain your supply
- Drink lots of fluids and plenty of water
- Eat healthy and stay active
- Get plenty of rest
It’s a good idea to use your hand to express milk before you breastfeed or pump. This may help your baby latch easier and can increase your milk supply. You can even use hand expression to spoon-feed a fussy baby, or pair it with breast pumping.
Hand expression of your colostrum and breastmilk for your baby before feeding at least six times a day may help you make more milk. Rubbing some expressed colostrum on the nipple before feeding will help your baby relax and open his or her mouth widely before latching.
It may take several tries to hand express colostrum before a feeding because the colostrum is thicker than breastmilk. Your milk should come in three or four days after delivery. Your breasts will feel heavier and fuller. The breastmilk will be thinner and will flow more quickly with hand expression than colostrum.
When to pump
If you plan to return to work or know you will have long or regular separations from your baby, it is a good idea to begin collecting and storing breastmilk once breastfeeding is going well. This usually happens by about three or four weeks after baby is born.
A good start is pumping for 15-20 minutes after a breastfeeding once in the morning and once at bedtime. Then, you can increase the number of times you pump each day as needed depending on how much milk you are storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
Don’t be discouraged! It takes most women several pumping sessions to collect enough milk for a full feeding.
When you return to work you can expect your baby to nurse more often when they are around you. Continue to feed your baby on-demand to maintain your breast milk supply.
How to store breast milk
When you have expressed or pumped breastmilk, you’ll want to be able to safely store that milk until you can feed it to your baby.
Here’s a general guide to help you know the best way to store breastmilk:
- 4-8 hours at room temperature
- 4-8 days in the refrigerator
- 3-6 months in the kitchen freezer
- 6-12 months in a deep freezer
Thawed, previously frozen breastmilk can be on the countertop for 1-2 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Any milk baby did not finish needs to be used within two hours. Throw away any leftover milk after it has been thawed. Never refreeze human breastmilk after it has been thawed.
To thaw out breast milk, do NOT put storage bags in the microwave. Overheating breastmilk can destroy the nutrients and cause “hot pocket” that can burn your baby’s mouth.
Instead, put any frozen milk in the refrigerator to thaw on its own. You can also run it under hot water or let it thaw in a bowl of warm water.
If pumping and storing breastmilk for a premature baby, ask your lactation consultant about proper milk storage.
You can combine the milk that you pump in the same day to get a full feeding. Make sure you refrigerate newly collected milk for at least an hour before adding it to milk you have already collected.
When storing breastmilk, make sure you store in small amounts, between two to four ounces in each bag. Label the bags with the date you collected it. If you’re sending your milk with your child to daycare, don’t forget to write your baby’s name!
Your baby gets small amounts of milk in the first few days after birth. Your breastmilk changes from colostrum to mature milk three or four days after baby is born. During this time swallows are easier to hear as baby is getting more milk at breast.
One way to tell if you baby is getting enough to eat is if they are having enough wet and dirty diapers.
- For the first day or two you can expect one or two wet diapers and one or two dirty diapers that are a dark tarry color.
- By days three or four, you should see three or four wet and dirty diapers and stools should be changing color, getting lighter and turning green or even yellow.
- By days five to seven we should be seeing yellow dirty diapers and at least six to eight wet diapers per day.
Other ways to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat:
- Baby is relaxed and seems satisfied and happy after feeding.
- Baby is eating 8-12 times every 24 hours
If you have concerns that your baby is not getting enough to eat be sure to call your baby’s doctor and you can call our lactation consultants to guide you through the process.
Call the NMC Health Lactation Office at 316-804-6177
When you choose breastfeeding as the source of feeding for your newborn, you should be feeding on demand. That means, when the baby is showing hunger cues, you offer to nurse. Ideally, you want to feed your baby before they start fussing. You can figure out if they’re hungry by watching their non-verbal cues:
- Licking or smacking lips
- Rooting (turning their head and opening their mouth)
- Sucking on their hand or anything nearby
- Squirming or getting into nursing position
- Fussing or appearing agitated
- Crying (this is considered a late hunger cue)
Babies should be fed at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours on-demand, as they are showing signs of hunger. The more a baby breastfeeds, the more milk you will make.
Your baby will breastfeed for different amounts of time throughout the day, and it changes every day.
You can expect your baby to start wanting to eat more frequently on day two. Your baby might even go through a phase called “cluster feeding” where they want to eat several times closely together. This is normal. Keep your baby close to you and feed them on cue. Cluster feedings usually start around day two or three.
You can expect your baby to eat between eight and 12 times in a 24-hour period. Remember, milk production relies on supply and demand. The more milk your baby drinks, the more your body will make. To help with success in breastfeeding, make sure you breastfeed your baby as soon after delivery as possible and make sure they eat at least eight times in a 24-hour period.
Listen for swallowing as your baby breastfeeds. When they stop suckling as much, stop swallowing or fall asleep, you can slip your finger into their mouth and gently remove your breast.
Be sure to offer your baby your other breast if they are still awake and showing signs of being hungry.
The short answer is yes. Your baby should eat eight to 12 times every 24 hours. Most of the time, this means they will need to eat every two or three hours. If baby is sleeping longer times, you may not be able to reach the goal of eight to 12 feedings every 24 hours. Talk with your baby’s pediatrician about when your baby can start sleeping for longer stretches of time.
Some people have some discomfort when they begin to breastfeed. It can peak about three or four days after delivery but should feel better after seven days and be gone within two weeks. It can feel like a chapping sensation.
Pain is relative, and for some it might be more severe than others. You should not have pain through a whole feeding or in between feedings. Some people have pain that happens when baby latches, which can last for about 30 seconds.
Breastfeeding should not hurt but adjusting to it at first may be slightly uncomfortable for some moms. There are things you can do to lower the discomfort:
- Have a lactation consultant help you position your baby correctly
- Make sure baby is latching correctly and have a lactation consultant help you get a deep latch
- Re-latch baby if you feel continued pain after one minute of nursing
- Use a cream made for nipples and breastfeeding after feeding to help moisturize your skin. You can also try olive oil or coconut oil
- After a feeding, try gently expressing and rubbing some of your breastmilk into your nipples. Breastmilk can help heal your skin
- Start nursing on the breast that is least sore
- Use breast shells or nursing cups in your bra between feedings to catch extra milk and keep clothing from rubbing on nipples
- Change up your nursing position
- Break suction properly
- Use warm wash cloths to soothe soreness
If you experience any cracking, bleeding or nipple damage from breastfeeding, talk with your lactation consultant or OBGyn. Seek help from a medical professional if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Severe pain
- Pain between feedings
- Pain that continues after 14 days of breastfeeding
- Cracks, blisters or bleeding on or around your nipple
Ask for help if you are experiencing any of the above concerns. Don’t suffer in pain or assume that “this is what breastfeeding feels like.” Your lactation consultant or doctor can help you get to the bottom of what might be going on.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all babies eat/drink only breastmilk for the first six months of life. Breastmilk is loaded with just the right amount of nutrition your baby needs to grow. Your milk is the perfect food for your baby.
Once your baby reaches six months old, you can start introducing soft table foods or baby foods. Be sure to speak with your child’s doctor before introducing any foods. You may continue to breastfeed your baby as long as it works for you and baby.
Remember, the longer you breastfeed, the longer you will be providing your baby with the benefits of breastmilk. This includes helping their immune system and protecting them from illness.
Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for you and your baby. It is also good for the environment since there are no bottles to wash or formula cans to throw away. If you are interested in breastfeeding or pumping to provide breastmilk for your baby, the research shows unique benefits for you and your child.
For the mother:
- Faster recovery from childbirth
- Lessens bleeding after delivery
- Decreased risk of certain cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer later in life
- Reduced risk of postpartum depression
- Decreased risk of developing diabetes
For the baby:
- Decreases the risk of infections in baby’s ears, skin, urinary and digestive systems
- Less risk of respiratory infections like colds and pneumonia
- Lower risk of asthma and allergies
- Reduced risk of diabetes and obesity later in life
- Decrease in risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Promotes brain growth and nervous system development
- Lessens the risk of developing childhood leukemia
Early skin-to-skin contact is a great way to bond with your baby. It provides benefits for both mom and baby.
For the mother:
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Less postpartum bleeding
- Speeds up recovery time
- Increases breastmilk production
- Decreases stress responses
- Reduces the risk of postpartum depression
- Promotes psychological well-being
- Enhances bonding and attachment
- Increases parental confidence
For the baby:
- Keeps the baby warm
- Paces heart rate and breathing
- Less crying and stress signals
- Reduces pain perception
- Decreases the risk of infection
- Encourages early breastfeeding
- Stimulates digestion
- Improves the quality of sleep
- Stimulates brain development
Feeding on-demand is allowing your baby to nurse when he or she is hungry. Here are some tips to help you breastfeed on-demand:
- Skin-to-skin contact for at least one hour increases milk-making hormones like a feeding at the breast
- Try to hand-express colostrum and place it on the nipple before a feeding
- Position your baby with your nipple placed just above the upper lip
- The smell of colostrum will stimulate your baby’s senses for feeding
- Baby may start to lick hand-expressed colostrum at the breast
- If your baby is alert and does not latch, you may try hand-expression of colostrum for cup-feeding
- Sometimes babies doze off while nursing. Try to gently squeeze the breast to increase colostrum flow
- Baby sucks and swallows after latch and feeds at the breast. You may need to gentrly stroke your baby to increase awareness
- You can expect your baby to wake and show hunger cues before feedings at least eight to 12 times a day
- Crying is a late hunger cue. Always start holding skin-to-skin when baby first wakes
- Your milk should come in by day three or four, and breasts should feel heavier and fuller
- Try to hand express your breastmilk at least six times a day during the early weeks of breastfeeding. Research shows an increase of up to 10 ounces a day at six weeks
- Your breastmilk is regulated by supply and demand. The more milk removed from your breast, the more milk you will make. To increase your supply, try to offer both breasts at each feeding
Warm, full breasts happen when your milk comes in around three or four days after you give birth. This change in your breasts will be a welcome sign of larger amounts of milk being made by your body for the baby. Your baby should be able to latch and breastfeed easily during this time, and you should hear frequent swallows as he or she is feeding.
Engorgement is a word that describes a problem with these natural changes. The breasts become too full, look shiny and are painful. The nipples may flatten, making it more difficult for your baby to latch and feed. This can lead to sore nipples if the engorgement of the breast continues. Here’s how to prevent breast engorgement:
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin after birth until the baby has latched and fed at the breast
- Encourage frequent feedings (eight to 12 times a day)
- Watch for hunger cues (smacking lips, rooting, sucking on hands) and put the baby to the breast early before he or she starts to cry
- Allow the baby to decide how long to feed at the breast
- Avoid feedings with formula unless the doctor orders it for medical reasons
If you experience breast engorgement, here are some ways to treat it:
- Apply moist, warm heat for five minutes before feedings
- Gently massage and stroke the breast toward the nipple
- hand express or pump enough breastmilk to soften the breast
- Support the breast with feedings ot help the baby keep a deeper latch
- Nurse or pump every two or three hours to empty the breasts
- Take Ibuprofen (Motrin) as directed by your doctor
- After feedings, use cool gel packs or breast therapy pads that have been cooled in the refigerator and place them on your breasts for 15 to 20 minutes
- If the breasts become firm or “hard as rocks,” stop all heat treatment and use ice packs for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to decrease swelling