Common Breastfeeding/Pumping Questions & Answers
Hey mamas, I would be lying if I said breastfeeding is a breeze. Don't get me wrong it does get a lot easier, but in the beginning it does take time, practice, and trial and error before getting in the groove of things. So, if things are not going as expected, don't give up, because just like you several other moms experience the same thing! And I promise you, in the end it will all be worth it!
But for now you may have millions of questions in your head. What if I have problems along the way, how do I fix them? How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk? How do I transition my baby from nursing to bottle feeding? And the list goes on and on. And that is what I am here for! Below you will find answers to common breastfeeding/pumping questions from a breastfeeding mama.
But, before I get started I want you to know that no two mamas are the same. What works for one mom may not work for the other. So some answers to these questions are from my experience and from my breastfeeding journey. Although, if it makes your breastfeeding journey easier in any way then it may be worth giving a shot.
Common Breastfeeding/Pumping Questions & Answers
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NURSE?
At first, your baby will nurse often. At least 8-12 hours in a 24 hour period. Because frequent nursing will build up your milk supply, let your baby nurse whenever he/she needs to or seems interested. Your newborn will most likely want to eat every 2-3 hours.
HOW LONG SHOULD I NURSE MY BABY?
As long as your baby wants to nurse. Restricting the amount of time you let your baby nurse, such as limiting them to ten minutes a breast, can have negative consequences. This is because a thinner milk called the foremilk is let down first. The hind mind, which is richer in fat, comes toward the end of the nursing session. An older baby may drain your breast in 5 minutes, although a newborn will need more time.
Nurse your baby on the first breast until the sucking and swallowing slows on its own. If he/she falls asleep, rub their back, talk to them, burp them, change their diaper, in order to awaken them. Then put him/her back on the first breast. They need to nurse long enough to get the richer hindmilk. Once the breast feels lighter, move them to the second breast. If your baby is satisfied with the first breast, that is okay. Just simply start the next feeding with the breast that was not fed on last session.
HOW DO I KNOW MY BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH MILK?
It's common for a new mom to feel anxious about the amount of milk her baby is getting. I was the exact same way. If you can answer true, to these answers, your baby is doing just fine. Nurses at least 8 times every 24 hours. My breasts feel softer/lighter after nursing. My baby wets 6 or more diapers every 24 hours. Baby has at least 2 bowel movements every 24 hours. My baby's stool was black for the first few days, but has now turned yellow. My baby has been gaining about an ounce a day after about the 5th day.
HOW OFTEN/LONG DO YOU PUMP FOR?
I would say I typically pump 4-5 times a day, usually around every 3 hours throughout the day. Although, this will kind of depend on if you returned back to work or are going to be staying home with your baby. If you returned to work, I would make sure to pump every 3 hours in order to create a bottle for the next feeding (when baby is at daycare). If you are staying at home with baby you may not need to pump as much as your baby will be nursing from your breast. I will say though, try to be consistent with your pump schedule. If you are inconsistent, chances are your milk supply will suffer. The more you pump, the more milk your body will produce, as it will trick your body into thinking your baby is eating this much.
So how long do I pump for? Around 15 minutes. If you are only pumping for 5-10 minutes, your body gets the sense that it does not need to produce as much milk. You may not be expressing milk the entire 15 minutes, but do not short yourself. Pump the entire 15 minutes. This is a way of telling your body to produce more milk. Although, if you are expressing milk the entire 15 minutes, or however long you are expressing milk for, continue pumping 2-3 minutes after your last drop of expressed milk. When it comes to pumping, if you do not have a hands free pumping bra, I would highly highly recommend getting one. It makes pumping a million times easier.
DO YOU WAKE UP TO PUMP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?
No, I personally do not get up in the middle of the night to pump. Although, there was maybe a hand full of times I did, because I was so engorged. I could not even lay on my side because it hurt so bad. So if you get painfully engorged throughout the night, yes you will most likely have to get up to pump throughout the night.
I would recommend getting up to pump in the middle of the night if your milk supply is low, in order to keep up with the demands of your baby. On the other hand, if your body is producing an adequate amount of milk and you are not needing that extra pump session and are not engorged, than my all means mama sleep!
ARE YOU EATING ANYTHING CERTAIN/TAKING ANY SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP INCREASE YOUR SUPPLY?
Drink a lot of water- Water is important, but it is that much more important when you are breastfeeding. You ask why? Because breast milk is 88% of water, so if you are not drinking enough water throughout the day you will soon become dehydrated.
No, you do not need to drink an excessive amount of water, but you do need to make sure you are getting your fluids in each day. If you drink 6-8 glasses a day, you will be just fine. Personally, I try to shoot for half of my body weight. So for example, I weigh 130 pounds, so I try to drink at least 65 ounces of water each day. I think the easiest way for me to do this is by getting a large water bottle that has the ounce marks on the side. I love this water bottle as it has the ounce marks, a fruit infuser (for those that don’t necessary like to drink water and like fruit juice in your water), and a time marker (love this feature as it makes sure I am staying on track).
Oatmeal- Not only are oats known to increase lactation but they also are packed with fiber, which gives you a boost in energy. Oatmeal may not be the most flavorful food out there, so I buy the packets that are fruit and cream flavor, which I really like. You can find a 48 count pack here for cheap. I eat a bowl of oatmeal most mornings and even possibly for a snack mid day and noticed my milk production increase drastically. Apricots are also known to help your body produce more milk. Throw some in your morning oatmeal for a double boost.
Brewer's Yeast and Flax Seed- Brewer’s yeast is known to tell your body to produce more milk. My favorite way to use brewer’s yeast, found here, is by throwing some in a breakfast smoothie. This lactation smoothie has three milk boosting ingredients: oats, brewer’s yeast, and flax seed. Flaxseed, found here, has phytoestrogens that can influence breast milk production. I use it by adding some into my breakfast smoothie as well.
Lactation Cookie Mix- This Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie mix really is the bee’s knees. These cookies are absolutely delicious and it was hard for me to not eat six of them in one sitting or for a snack every hour, because we all know breastfeeding moms are constantly hungry. Seriously, your milk supply will most likely double with these! Love, love, love this cookie mix and it most likely works so well because it contains oats, brewer’s yeast, and flax seed. You will probably end up just wanting to buy these for a daily snack.
HOW DO YOU TRANSITION FROM NURSING TO BOTTLE FEEDING?
Okay, not going to lie I was absolutely terrible about this. I was always at home with Oaklynn, so I never really felt the need to bottle feed her. Don't get me wrong I was still pumping to keep up my milk supply up, but we were never really using it, so most of it will be donated or used for milk baths.
Although, with the next baby I will start bottle feeding him/her at least once a day in order to get them use to the bottle. This will also give someone else time to bond with the baby along with giving me a break. Plus, I will most likely be a lot more exhausted with two kiddos, so I will most likely ask for help as well. If you start bottle feeding a couple times a day within the first few months it will be much easier for them to take a bottle when going back to work or for a night out. Since I did not do this, the few times we went out, Oaklynn refused to take a bottle. So then this also left me not wanting to go anywhere as I knew the caretaker would have trouble feeding her.
So I recommend getting them started on a bottle at around 3-4 weeks. As it will be easier on you, the caretaker, and the baby when leaving them.
WHAT BRAND OF BOTTLES DO YOU USE?
Okay, well we didn't really use bottles that often because like stated above Oaklynn would not take them easily. Which was my fault because I never really introduced them to her as I was always home with her. Although, the bottles that I had ordered were the Comotomo bottles. I cannot really say if they worked or didn't work for us, but they do have amazing reviews from other moms, so I would recommend checking them out.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR NURSING WARDROBE MUST HAVES?
Like I said above, if you don't have a hands free pumping bra, I highly highly recommend getting one. Nursing bras are also an item that you will absolutely want/need when it comes to breastfeeding. I have worn one every single day for 8 months now and don't plan on stopping anytime soon as they are comfortable and make things so easy and functional when nursing. These are two of my absolute must haves and I would be lost without them, although you can find a whole list of nursing wardrobe must haves here.
WHAT ARE YOUR ABSOLUTE MUST HAVES FOR NURSING/PUMPING?
There are so many products out there that make nursing/pumping easier. All the way from products that will save you time, products that will help with relief and sanity, along with products so you never have to waste any of your precious liquid gold! I would have to say nursing bras, a hands free pumping bra, a nursing cover, the Haakaa, and nipple cream are my top must haves. Well and of course a breast pump, I would check with your insurance before ordering one, as with several insurances you can get one for free. Although, you can find a full list of my favorites here.
ARE THERE ANY HACKS/TIPS YOU SUGGEST?
Breastfeeding takes time, practice, and sometimes a whole lot of trial and error to get in the groove of things. And there are so many things to know about breastfeeding a baby, so in order to make things a little easier I put together a list of breastfeeding hacks/tips (found here). Tips all the way from milk storage, to tips to make nursing easier/more comfortable, to tips to alleviate/prevent pain.
WHAT IF I RUN INTO PROBLEMS, HOW DO I FIX THEM?
I am straight up going to tell you nursing is hard, and it is down right physically and emotionally exhausting. But boy let me tell you it is worth it! Don't worry if you run into problems along the way, several moms have experienced the same concerns. So I put together a list of breastfeeding problems and how to fix them, which can be found here.
If you found this post helpful, be sure to share/pin with all of your fellow breastfeeding mamas and show Southern Dakota Mama some love on Instagram. I love connecting with other mamas on Instagram and following along with their story!
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How I Pump 150 Ounces Of Breast Milk A Week
Why I Love The Haakaa Breast Pump
18 Must Haves For Breastfeeding Moms