Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth. ~Pamela K. Wiggins
Breastfeeding can be wonderful and frustrating at the same time. But with some practice and help you and baby can develop a relationship with so many benefits:
Special bonding time with baby
Healthier, happier baby
- Baby is less fussy
- Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Less risk of asthma and respiratory issues
- Less ear infections
- Less digestive problems
- Less allergies, eczema, and skin problems
- Healthier, happier you
- Stress release
Breaks during the day
Lowers risk of certain cancers
Easier weight loss (burns 400 – 500 calories a day)
Saves money (estimates between $1000 – $1,500 year)
Signs of Correct Nursing
- Your baby’s mouth is open wide with lips turned out.
- His chin and nose are resting against your breast.
- He has taken as much of the areola (area around nipple) as possible into his mouth.
- He is suckling rhythmically and deeply, in short bursts separated by pauses.
- You can hear him swallowing regularly.
- Your nipple is comfortable after the first few suckles.
Signs of Incorrect Nursing
- Your baby’s head is not in line with his body.
- He is sucking on the nipple only, instead of suckling on the areola with the nipple far back in his mouth.
- He is sucking in a light, quick, fluttery manner rather than taking deep, regular sucks.
- His cheeks are puckered inward or you hear clicking noises.
- You don’t hear him swallow regularly after your milk production has increased.
- You experience pain throughout the feed or have signs of nipple damage (such as cracking or bleeding)
How Long Should I Breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends
- 0 – 6 months: Exclusive breastfeeding
- 6 -12 months: Breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods from
- 1 year+: Continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. 8
Common Breastfeeding Issues and Solutions:
Breastfeeding can definitely have its challenges, especially at first. Here are some common issues moms have when breastfeeding.
What Is It?
|Engorgement||Overfilling of breasts with milk. Can happen when your “milk comes in” a few days after birth, any time you miss a feeding, or when you wean baby.||
|Mastitis (Breast Infection)||Signs include: breasts are tender, swollen, painful, or warm to touch, fever of 101+, flu like symptoms||
|Sore/Cracked Nipples||Should only last a week or so. If you are experiencing soreness or pain, your baby may not be latching properly.||
|Alcohol Use||Alcohol can pass through breast milk and affect your baby||
|Caffeine||Caffeine is a substance found in coffee drinks, energy drinks, soda, and some foods and medications. It can affect your baby.||
|Medications||Many over the counter medications are safe, but check with your doctor to be sure.||Contact your doctor or a lactation consultant.|
If you are having a hard time or have questions, you can always contact a lactation consultant.
When You Shouldn’t Breastfeed
There are some cases where it’s better if you don’t breastfeed: If you are HIV+, have active TB, are taking certain medication, using illicit drugs, or are undergoing certain treatments for cancer. Talk to your doctor is you have any questions about whether or not you should breastfeed.
Nutrition For Breastfeeding Moms
If you are breastfeeding, you have important dietary needs. Most breastfeeding moms need and extra 400 – 500 calories a day. Make these extra calories count!
Going Back To Work
If you are going back to work – it doesn’t have to be the end of breastfeeding. If it’s right for you and your baby, you can try pumping. With a little planning your baby can still get all the benefits of breastmilk and you can save tons of money.
In ideal world you will have:
- A private, comfortable room
- A schedule that will allow you 15 – 30 minute breaks 2-3 times a day
- Breast pump supplies
In the real world, you can get by with:
- Any space where you can be alone (your car, the bathroom, a closet if need be). In these cases, you just need to be extra careful with hygiene
- Any break. If you can only pump on your 15 minute lunch break, that’s better than nothing
- You will still need breast pump supplies – but you can be creative.
Breast Pump Supplies
To get started, you will need a breast pump and all of its parts. Most experts say you shouldn’t use a secondhand breast pump, but work with that you’ve got. Manual Pumps can be as little as $30, where hospital grade electric pumps can be $300 or more.
Some communities have breast pumps for rent or low-cost options. There are many different kinds, so take some time to think about what might work best for you.
Here are the main parts…
- Breast Shield that fits flat against your breast. The bottom of the breast shield is a valve and membrane piece.
- The Breast shield screws into a bottle or plastic container that collects the milk
- The Breast Shield is attached to a power source; either
- Manual (a handle or bulb that you squeeze)
- Electric/Battery Power Pack (does the pumping for you)
Single vs Double: Some pumps have only one breast shield, so you have to pump each breast separately. Others are double pumps so you can pump both breasts at the same time.
How to Store Milk After You Express It
You can store the milk directly into the bottle/container or you can pour the milk into a milk storage bag. Many moms use the plastic bags because they use less space in the fridge or freezer. You can fill the bags in 2-4 ounce portions. You will waste less milk this way.
How to Transport Milk
Some electric and battery pumps have a built-in cooler to transport milk. Otherwise you can use a small cooler with icepacks.
Wash your hands with warm soapy water before you pump. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This is especially important if you have to pump in an unusual place like your car or bathroom. After you pump, wash the breastshield, valve, and membrane with warm soapy water after each use. If you don’t have access to water, you can use special disposable wipes made for breast pumps. Once a week sterilize the parts in boiling water (or use a microwavable sterilizing bag). Let them air dry.
How Long You Can Store Expressed Breast Milk
- Room Temperature (66-72 degrees): 10 hours
- Fridge (32-39 degrees): Up to 8 days
- Regular Freezer: 3-4 months
- Deep Freezer: Up to 6 months
Warming Up The Milk:
- If the milk is frozen, put the sealed bag under warm running water, or place in a bowl of water (not in microwave). You will have to mix it around in the bag because the milk will separate when it thaws.
- Never re-freeze milk that has been thawed.
- If your baby likes a warm bottle, make sure to put the thawed milk into a bottle before heating it up in the bottle warmer or on the stove (not in microwave). The plastic will melt!
- When giving a baby a bottle: make sure the bottle is BPA Free. BPA is a chemical that is thought to be harmful to babies. When choosing bottles:
YES: Stamp on the package that says ‘Certified BPA free”
NO: Bottle stamped with Recycle Sign “7” or “PC”
Ideal Pumping Schedule*
7 am – Nurse before you go to work
9:30 am – First Pump Break
12 pm – Lunch & Pump Break
2:30 pm – Pump Break
5 pm – Nurse baby when you go home
If you don’t have a job allows you to take breaks, try to at least pump once while you are away from baby. This will keep your supply up so that you can continue to nurse baby when you are together.
Helpful Pumping Tips:
- The first few times you pump you won’t get much milk, so don’t be discouraged
- Start building up a “stock” of breast milk before you go back to work. But go slow! Most of your milk should still be going to baby.
- Make sure the place you are going to pump is comfortable and place you can relax. If you have to pump in an unusual spot, you might want to bring a blanket to cover up with.
- Be upfront talking to your employer about your decision to pump. If you need help, check out this website for checklists and talking points.
- Don’t worry too much if you miss a pump break here or there because of a crazy schedule. Just get back on your schedule the next day to keep your milk supply up.
Other Resources and Videos:
|Baby Feeding||Nutrition during Pregnancy|
|Emotional Health||Social Support|
|Child Development||Stress Management|
|Exercise during Pregnancy||Tobacco, Alcohol & Other Substance Use|