Breastfeeding Qs &As with a Nursing Pro

Nursing pro assisting a new mother and her newborn with breastfeeding.

by Jada Shapiro, boober & Birth Day Presence

I heard that keeping my baby with me will help with early breastfeeding, but don’t you have to send your baby to the nursery after you give birth?

Many hospitals “require” sending your baby to the nursery for assessment soon after birth. However, it is up to you! Let staff know that you plan to room-in, including right after delivery, and direct staff to do any newborn procedures and tests at your bedside. Staying near your baby helps with early breastfeeding because you’ll be able to see and hear the earliest cues that your little one is ready to nurse. It’s easier to nurse a baby who’s just starting to show signs of hunger (mouth motions, turning head to the side, sticking tongue out, just waking up, tight fists), than one who is really hungry!

I just had a baby but my milk doesn’t look like milk at all. Why isn’t my milk milky?

Because it takes 3-5 days to make your mature, full-flowing milk. At first, you produce colostrum: thick, sticky, golden, full of antibodies and everything your baby needs. It helps build their immune system. Over the next days, your milk will transition from colostrum to mature breast milk, shifting into the whiter, flowier liquid you may have expected.

How frequently should a newborn baby breastfeed?

Really frequently! In the first 3 days after birth, it is normal for a newborn to suckle up 15+ times per 24 hours. That amounts to every 60-90 minutes on average. This frequent stimulation to your breasts is part of what’s going to tell your mature breast milk to come in around day 3-5. As your mature milk comes in, you will more likely see a pattern that is closer to every 2-3 hours.

How will I know if my baby’s getting enough breast milk?

By what’s coming out of your baby! Your pediatrician will ask you to count pees and poops in the first days after birth. If your baby is not eliminating as much as your pediatrician would like or your baby’s not gaining enough weight, follow your pediatrician’s guidelines and strongly consider hiring a lactation consultant who can help assess how to increase your milk supply, whether through fixing your latch, or giving you a pumping and feeding plan to meet your lactation goals.

Is breastfeeding supposed to be painful?

No! Painful breastfeeding is an indication that something is not quite right. A lactation consultant can help adjust your latch and/or assess your baby’s mouth and tongue to see if something physical is affecting breastfeeding.

What should I put on my nipples when they are cracked and bleeding?

If your nipples are cracked and bleeding, you want to see a lactation consultant right away. Nipple damage indicates an improper latch. An improved latch will be less painful, and usually results in more efficient feeding sessions. Lanolin cream can help soothe your nipples while you work on fixing the latch.

When should I introduce a bottle?

If all is well and you do not want to breastfeed exclusively, the general recommendation is to wait until breastfeeding is well established (no pain, baby is gaining weight, etc.), which is usually in the 4-6 week range. Sometimes bottles are recommended earlier and may be the tool you need to help a baby get nourished while working on breastfeeding. If you are exclusively pumping or not lactating at all, you’ll want to introduce a bottle right away.

Jada Shapiro, founder of boober and Birth Day Presence, is a maternal care expert dedicated to helping families in New York City get the quality pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care they deserve since 2002.

Boober is the first on-demand service connecting new moms to same day, in-person, expert lactation support. Boober exists to improve healthcare experiences and outcomes for expectant and new parents.