Women have breastfed for thousands of years, but that doesn’t mean it's always easy—or glamorous, for that matter.
For some moms, breastfeeding comes naturally; for others, it can be a significant challenge. Some moms look forward to it; others dread it. But almost all new mothers have questions about breastfeeding that they may feel hesitant to ask. Here are a few of them.
Should it hurt this much?
Although breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, it can elicit physical sensations that new moms have never experienced. For example, moms may feel a tugging sensation, as there are many nerve endings in the nipple and areola.
Some moms initially feel pain when the infant latches; however, pain should not be present throughout the nursing session. Sore nipples – a rather common problem – may indicate that you may need some assistance with your positioning and latch. A few sessions with a lactation consultant can help.
Do smaller breasts produce less milk?
Most women are able to produce enough milk for their babies, no matter the size of their breasts.
Why are my breasts so hard?
Breast engorgement is the development of hard, swollen and painful breasts from too much breast milk, and is common in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding. Engorgement can be relieved by using warm compresses or taking a warm shower prior to nursing to aid in the removal of milk. Cold compresses or cool cabbage leaves can be placed after nursing to reduce tissue swelling.
It’s also recommended that you don’t wait too long between feeds to avoid engorgement; newborn babies should be fed at least six to eight times in a 24-hour period, or more often with cues.
How can I get more sleep?
The first couple months can be especially tough, as newborns want to be held and need to be fed frequently throughout the day (and night).
Once breastfeeding is well established, there is no need to wake your baby at night to nurse. Let him or her sleep as long as possible. During the day, babies should be fed at least every three hours. Babies are often heavy sleepers following their morning feed, so if possible, it’s recommended that you go back to bed when they do.
It can also help to take a nap later in the day, while your baby is sleeping. Getting adequate sleep is important to successful nursing, as exhaustion can decrease milk supply. Although new parents don’t always incorporate self-care into their daily routines, it’s important that you focus on sleeping and eating properly so you can provide the best possible care to your baby.
How can I keep from leaking in public?
As a new mom's milk supply gets established, it's not uncommon to experience leakage. In fact, some moms can leak by just thinking about their baby or hearing a baby cry.
During this stage, nursing pads can really come in handy. Placed into a regular or nursing bra, these disposable or reusable pads absorb breast milk from leaking breasts, thus preventing embarrassment and protecting your clothing from stains.
I don't enjoy breastfeeding. Can I just pump instead?
Breastfeeding is an individual choice and there are plenty of moms out there that simply don’t enjoy the act but do want to provide their babies with nutritious breast milk. You know what's best for you and your child. If pumping works for you and your baby, then there’s no reason to feel guilty.
Ochsner offers prenatal classes, prenatal consultations, counseling from lactation consultants, breast pump rentals and more. For more information and additional resources available within the community, call: 504-842-5210 (New Orleans) or 225-755-4448 (Baton Rouge).