3 minutes read
Dr. Deena Blanchard
Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions
Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for new parents. It can also come with its own set of challenges and concerns. I often say that parents expect their baby will come out and it will be “natural” and easy. However, both you and your little one are new at this, so cut yourself some slack and realize it’s perfectly normal if there are ups and downs along the road! Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your little one, and while some seem to settle into a rhythm easily, for others there is a steep learning curve. With patience, knowledge and practice it tends to get easier for everyone.
Many parents have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. Here are the top questions I get asked as a pediatrician (and mom of three breastfed boys) to help empower you and help troubleshoot if challenges arise.
Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your little one, and while some seem to settle into a rhythm easily, for others there is a steep learning curve. With patience, knowledge and practice it tends to get easier for everyone.
How often should I breastfeed?
In early infancy, mostly breastfed babies will feed every 2-3 hours and that’s from the start of the feeding! You will feel like you are feeding a lot and that is normal. It is best to look for hunger cues and not wait until your baby is crying to start feeding. Some common signals are rooting, lip smacking and making suckling motions. As you and your little one get to know each other better, the hunger cues tend to become more apparent and easier to recognize.
What are the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations about breastfeeding?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for approximately 6 months after birth, and supports continued breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods introduced at about 6 months, as long as mutually desired by mother and child for 2 years or beyond.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding has many established benefits to mother and baby beyond providing nourishment and nurturing, such as the following:
Benefits for Babies
- less frequent ear infections, chest infections, and stomach bugs.
- lowers the risk of SIDS
- decreases the incidence of asthma and eczema.
Benefits for Mothers
- helps contract the uterus after delivery
- can help with weight loss
- can decrease the risk of premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer
That said, if you cannot breastfeed, or if you breastfeed in combination with formula, your baby will still receive the nutrition he or she needs to grow and develop with a thoughtfully chosen fomula. Individual decisions about breast or bottle are highly personal and should be made with your pediatrician, and the goal is always to support the optimal health of both baby and mother.
I thought breastfeeding is supposed to be easy? Why is it SO HARD for me?
Just like learning to walk and talk, breastfeeding is something that all babies need to learn to do. During the learning process it can be really challenging for a variety of reasons. It usually will get easier with time but asking for help is key! Talk to your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. You may hear lots of differing opinions when you ask questions. Take most things with a grain of salt. There is no single “right” way to feed a baby, and what worked for your mom or friend may not be working for you.
Do I need to supplement? When and how should I start?
There are circumstances in which it is necessary either for the health of the mother or baby to supplement with formula, or you may make the personal choice to do so. It is important to listen to the advice of medical professionals. A fed baby is a healthy baby. There is no shame or judgment in choosing to supplement, either for personal or medical reasons. Each family unit is unique and it is important to make the choices that work for you, your baby and your family unit. Should you decide to supplement, speak with your pediatrician about what is the right formula choice for your baby.
This is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always discuss any health and feeding concerns directly with your pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read above.