Breastfeeding: Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How does breastfeeding my baby benefit me?

A: Breastfeeding is good for you for the following reasons:

  • Breastfeeding burns as many as 500 extra calories each day, which may make it easier to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
  • Women who breastfeed longer have lower rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes the uterus to contract. This helps the uterus return to its normal size more quickly and may decrease the amount of bleeding you have after giving birth.

Q2:  How does breastfeeding benefit my baby?

A: Breastfeeding benefits your baby in the following ways:

  • Breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals needed for a baby’s growth and development. As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to adapt to the baby’s changing nutritional needs.
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.Breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and allergies.
  • Breastfed infants have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Any amount of breastfeeding appears to help lower this risk.
  • If your baby is born preterm, breast milk can help reduce the risk of many of the short-term and long term health problems that preterm babies face, such as necrotizing enterocolitis or other infections.

Q3: How long should I breastfeed my baby?

A: It is recommended that babies exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding means to feed your baby only breast milk and no other foods or liquids unless advised by the baby’s doctor. Breastfeeding should continue as new foods are introduced through the baby’s first year. You can keep breastfeeding after the first year as long as you and your baby want to continue. You can use a breast pump to express milk at work to provide milk for your baby when you are separated. This also helps to keep up your supply while you are away from your baby.

Q4: When can I begin breastfeeding?

A: Most healthy newborns are ready to breastfeed within the first hour after birth. Hold your baby directly against your bare skin (called “skin-to-skin” contact) right after birth. Placing your baby against your skin right after birth triggers reflexes that help your baby to attach or “latch on” to your breast.

Q5: How do I know my baby is hungry?

A: When babies are hungry, they will nuzzle against your breast, suck on their hands, flex their fingers and arms, and clench their fists. Crying usually is a late sign of hunger. When babies are full, they relax their arms, legs, and hands and close their eyes.

Q6:  How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?

A: Your baby’s stomach is very small, and breast milk empties from a baby’s stomach faster than formula. For these reasons, you will typically breastfeed at least 8–12 times in 24 hours during the first weeks of your baby’s life. If it has been more than 4 hours since the last feeding, you may need to wake up your baby to feed. Each nursing session typically lasts 10–45 minutes. Once your breast milk transitions from colostrum to mature milk, your baby will soak at least six diapers a day with urine and have at least three bowel movements a day. After 10 days, your baby will be back up to birth weight. Although breastfeeding works for most women, it may not work for everyone.

Q7 Should I stop breastfeeding if my breasts hurt?

A: It’s normal for mothers to experience pain and chapping of the breasts at first. In rare cases, your nipples may bleed, but this isn’t harmful for your baby (though she may spit it back up).If your nipples bleed, it’s time to correct your baby’s suckling technique – seek the assistance of a specialist if needed.During the first few days of your little one’s life, when your milk flow begins, you may experience painful swelling of the breasts. Your breasts may also feel very warm. This is normal, and can be relieved with a warm shower and massaging of the breasts.However, if the swelling and pain persist, or reappear at a later time, then you should check with your doctor to rule out mastitis.

Q8: Can I pump my breast milk and give it to my baby in a bottle?

A: During your baby’s first days of life, you should try to stay away from bottles and pacifiers. Your newborn is still learning to suckle, and these accessories can cause confusion because of their shape and texture.
If you feel like your breasts are too full, the best thing you can do is allow your baby to nurse. If that’s not possible, then you can pump the excess milk and freeze it for a later date.
This will come in handy if you’re planning to go back to work soon.

Q9: What about nipple shields?

A: In the past, it was common for mothers with inverted or flat nipples to use nipple shields. However, this condition doesn’t limit a woman’s ability to nurse her baby in any way at all.
While suckling, the baby will find the way to get the nourishment she needs. 

Q10: Is it possible to nurse with breast implants?

A: This is another one of the most frequently asked questions about breastfeeding. Breast augmentation surgeries don’t affect the mammary glands, which are the glands responsible for producing breast milk.Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that breast implants have any effect on milk or milk production.

Q11: What diet should a breastfeeding mother follow?

A: The golden rule is that whatever is hard for the mother to digest will also create problems for the baby.
Some foods can produce gas in babies and, as a result, cause babies to be colicky. Therefore, it’s best to reduce the consumption of dairy, grains and refined flours.

Q12: Besides breast milk, should my baby also drink water?

A: Babies that nurse on demand get all the hydration they need through their mother’s breast milk. As a general rule, babies shouldn’t drink water until after the age of 6 months.

After that point, your child’s pediatrician will indicate when it’s okay to introduce water and other foods.

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