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Breastfeeding: Frequently Asked Questions

When will my milk come in?

Usually within two to five days. Until then your baby will receive colostrum, a rich, high-protein pre-milk that is just right for your baby during those first few days.


How soon after birth should I start to breastfeed?

Most babies have a strong desire to suck when they are first born, so this is an excellent time to introduce the breast. Many mothers offer the breast while still on the delivery table. The baby should go to breast within 30 minutes of delivery or as soon as possible.


How often should I breastfeed at first?


Most babies need to breastfeed at least eight to twelve times every 24 hours for the first few weeks. This can be every hour to two hours. Watch for your baby's hunger clues: Rooting, turning head side to side, licking, bringing hands to face/mouth, or making little sucking motions are all indications that it is time to breastfeed. Respond to cues early. Don't wait till the baby is crying. A crying baby is more difficult to latch.


Let the baby stay on the first breast as long as he wants. He'll let you know when he's finished by either coming off by himself or by changing his suck to non-nutritive. You can burp the baby and offer the other breast. He may or may not take it. Again, let him decide the duration. It might be for just a few sucks or for much longer. Start the next feeding with the breast that received the least attention (second breast) at the last feed.


How do I know if my baby is getting enough?

What is enough?

Babies need to nurse 8 or more times in 24 hours to get enough milk. Nursing this often will also help bring in your milk. Your milk will probably come in about two to five days after your baby is born.

For the first few days you should count wet diapers. There should be one wet diaper for each day of your baby's life. For example: one day old = one wet diaper, two days old = two wet diapers, etc., up to the 5th or 6th day.

After your milk comes in and your baby has been getting your milk for 24 hours, watch for these signs...

Your baby is probably getting enough if...

  • Your baby nurses 8 or more times in 24 hours. It is normal for very young babies to wake up often to nurse.
  • Your baby has two or more bowel movements every 24 hours.
  • The bowel movements are changing from black and sticky to a yellow liquid.
  • You can hear your baby swallow while nursing.
  • Your baby is usually active when awake.

Get help if you see any of these signs...

  • Your baby has a very dry mouth.
  • Your baby's skin or eyes have a yellow color.
  • Your baby doesn't wake up to be fed.
  • Your baby does not nurse well.
  • You feel your baby does not look well.

To get help with breastfeeding...

Call Lactation Services: 343-5186.


If I get sick, should I stop nursing?

With very few exceptions, continuing to nurse protects the baby. Your breast milk is full of antibodies that are passed on to your baby. On the occasions when your baby does become ill, he will be less sick and recover faster because of the antibodies in your milk.


If I must take a prescription medication, should I stop nursing?

There are very few drugs that would prevent you from nursing your baby. Call your lactation consultant for information on acceptable or alternative medications. LMHS Lactation Services: 343-5186.


Should breastfeeding hurt?

Beyond some initial tenderness, breastfeeding should not hurt. If breastfeeding is painful, take the baby off the breast and begin again. If breastfeeding continues to hurt or bruises, blisters, or scabs develop on or around your nipples, contact a lactation consultant. Lactations Services: 343-5186.

If you did not find your breastfeeding issue addressed here, please do not hesitate to call. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday (excluding holidays). After hours and weekends you may leave a voice message. Messages are returned no later than next day, seven days a week.

LMHS Lactation Services: 343-5186.


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