Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits to both infants and mothers. It is a unique way of nurturing and nourishing a newborn, promoting their growth and development while establishing a strong bond between mother and child. However, despite its natural occurrence, many questions and concerns often arise when it comes to breastfeeding. In this article, we have sought the expert advice of Yvon Bock, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), to answer the most common breastfeeding questions asked during the webinar “Newbie to Boobie: How to Be a Breastfeeding Pro”.
Breastfeeding topics with related questions you’ll find in this article:
- Preparing for Breastfeeding While Pregnant
- Breastfeeding Right After Delivery
- Latching Done Right
- Breastfeeding: How Much, How Often, How Long
- How to Increase Breastmilk Supply
- Best Breastfeeding Positions
- Advice on Pumping and Storing Breastmilk
- How to Avoid Breastfeeding Pain and Ease Discomfort
- Safety Dos and Don’ts While Breastfeeding
- Nursing Must-Haves
- Pregnancy and Your Period While Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding and Baby-related Concerns
- Advice on Mixed Feeding
- Breastfeeding and Sleep
- Post-Breastfeeding: What to Expect
- Dad’s Role in Supporting His Breastfeeding Wife
- Unable to Breastfeed: What to Do
Preparing for Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Are there some massage techniques we can utilise before delivery to prepare for breastfeeding?
We don’t quite recommend for mummies to massage the breasts pre-labour because it may trigger pre-term contractions. Unless you are already full term and are doing so for colostrum collection, the direction is to avoid breast massages/stimulations. You can massage your breast postnatally to encourage milk flow!
Apart from lactation cookies, what are some common food that helps to increase milk supply? Should we start taking them towards the end of the last trimester?
Certain foods like salmon, oats, avocadoes, and nuts like almonds are great for breastfeeding. Herbs like fenugreek may also help! However, foods can only help so much. The main push for an established milk supply is still the frequent removal of milk from the breasts, especially in the first 6 weeks after baby is born. That will help to build your milk supply!
Should a pregnant woman pump and store breastmilk before the baby is born? When can she start—when nearing the due date or right after the baby is born?
It’s good to collect colostrum via hand expression only when you are 37 complete gestational weeks before the baby born. If done any earlier, it may contribute to preterm labour. Exclusive pumping may not be as effective as hand expression as the colostrum is concentrated and excreted in minimal amounts. It’s advisable to store colostrum in freezer before delivery.
I have been collecting colostrum from week 36 and it started from darker yellow to lighter yellow. Seems like it is getting more diluted. Is this normal?
This is normal. You may want to stop collecting when you experience preterm contraction as this may contribute preterm labour.
I’m 20 weeks pregnant. My aerola area has become quite thick and my nipples seem flat. Is this normal ?
Breast changes during pregnancy are a good sign that your breasts and body are prepare for breastfeeding. It’s common that some mother’s nipples may not protrude. Don’t worry about that, as you will still able to breastfeed. At the beginning of the journey, you may need assistance and eventually you and your baby will be competent to breastfeed without assistance. Be patient and gives yourself and your baby time and chance to learn and practise.
I’m currently in my second trimester and there has been a burning sensation in my right breast. Usually when it happens, it will take a while for it to go away. Can I ask if this means anything?
It could signs of your breast changes and prepare for breastfeeding. However, you should always consult your doctor if in doubt.
Yvon Bock (IBCLC) lists the short- and long-term benefits of breastfeeding for the family
Breastfeeding Right After Delivery
Should we start breastfeeding immediately after we gave birth? Would we have enough milk for the baby?
One of the key to successful breastfeeding is initiate breastfeeding early with skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, for an hour, which also refer as the golden or sensitive hour. In order to produce sufficient milk supply, baby needs to feed on demand to signal the breasts to produce milk based on baby’s need.
What do you feed the baby before milk production is established?
The answer is breastmilk. Milk production will only be established if your baby feeds on demand or milk removal is as frequent as the baby’s feed.
Why should we latch in the golden hour when the milk is only available post-natal?
The golden hour happens immediately after birth and it’s consider post-natally. This crucial step will kick start and activate your milk flow and milk production. Don’t rest your boobs and wait for the milk to come. By then it will be too late to stimulate the breast to make sufficient milk supply for your baby.
Latching Done Right
How does one deep latch?
It is important to recognise what a deep latch is like. Your baby’s lips are flanged out 140 degrees wide, covering most of your areola. You’d feel a gentle tug in your breast during nursing, and feel your breast soften with the removal of milk. Most importantly there shouldn’t be any sharp, shooting pain during breastfeeding. It can some times be difficult for mothers to spot a poor latch. Do seek the guidance of a lactation consultant to get the latch correct, and the mummy to take over thereafter!
I breastfed my second baby but with my third one I have been unsuccessful. It has been very difficult for my third child to latch. How can I improve my latching?
It must have been really trying for you, and really confusing as well! Every baby is different, especially physiologically. Tongue-ties or lip ties in babies may affect their ability to latch, but it could also be due to many other factors. To have a clearer understanding, a visit to a lactation specialist is always recommended. The earlier the issue is addressed, the more likely the breastfeeding relationship can be restored and sustained.
If my baby has a shallow latch, how do I improve it into a deeper latch? Could frequent shallow latching means my baby has tongue-tie issue?
A shallow latch simply means that your baby might not have the right latching technique, or may have developed certain poor latching habits. Tongue-tie is one contributing factor but it is not always the case for most babies.
When your baby is latching, make sure that your baby’s mouth is wide open and covers most of your areola, with lips flanged out like a fish. When you feel pain during breastfeeding, unlatch your baby and get him or her to try again. If it’s difficult to correct it, it’s always recommended to visit a lactation consultant to get help. The sooner it’s corrected, the better the breastfeeding experience.
How do I know that I am giving my baby enough milk while latching?
We understand sometimes it’s a bit worrying when we cannot tell how much our baby has taken in when he or she nurses directly. There are a few clues for mothers, though! First, check that your breasts are soft and comfortable after nursing. An effective removal of milk will cause your breast to soften after a session. Second, check your baby’s wet diapers. Is she/he having enough wet/soiled diapers? Third, check your baby’s weight. Weight gain is a good indicator that your baby is drinking well. Last but not least, is your baby contented after a feed? If your baby relaxes after a feed and dozes off to sleep, it’s likely that your baby has gotten enough milk from you.
If you are still concerned after going through these 4 steps, you may want to check with your child’s paediatrician, or see a lactation consultant for more guidance.
What can we do if we keep being unsuccessful at latching?
If you desire to continue with breastfeeding, we’d highly recommend for you to see a certified lactation consultant, or IBCLC. They’d be experienced to help identify the issue with latching (either poor latch or tongue-tie) and provide the right advice for you! Alternatively, you can still upkeep your milk supply by pumping diligently with the right pump parts so that you will still have the supply when you attempt to re-latch your baby.
Could you share more on the pros and cons of direct latching and bottle feeding?
Breastfeeding and bottle feeding seem similar but they actually work completely different muscles! The baby uses more muscles to breastfeed than to drink from a bottle, and there’s a technique to draw milk out from the breast. A good latch also prevents gassiness, while bottle-feeding may cause some air to be ingested.
That said, if you wish for your spouse or family to help with the feeding so you can rest, then yes, bottle feeding may come in helpful. However, if you are the only one caring for your baby without extra help, you may want to breastfeed more, so there’s less washing to do.
At the end of the day, it really depends on what works best for you and your family! All the best!
What does “feed on demand” mean? Does it mean when baby cries or fusses?
Feeding on demand is to feed whenever baby shows signs of hunger before the last cue which is crying. Newborn babies may fuss and cry for many reasons, such as needing to burp, having a nappy soiled, feeling tired, and many more. On the other hand, baby will demonstrate significant hunger cues if he or she needs to be feed. Hence, we highly recommend to room-in with your baby during the stay at the hospital to identify the baby’s hunger cues and feed on demand. This will ensure a larger volume of milk by day three after birth and reduce the risk of jaundice for your baby.
How to dislodge if the latch is wrong?
You may use your little finger and slide it from the corner of baby’s mouth and press baby’s tongue down to break the suction to detach the incorrect latch. However, hand hygiene is important.
I was told that I have a short nipple. How do I breastfeed successfully despite this?
All women have different shapes and sizes of nipple and breast. The good news is babies are able to feed on a short nipple. You may need help at the beginning, but once you and your baby establish breastfeeding, your baby will be able to latch almost without help.
My baby is premie, so latch is challenging and stressful. Will stresses further hinder the milk supply?
Stress is the milk killer and may affect your milk supply. Preemies takes time to learn and adapt as most of their organs are immature. Be patient, gives yourself and baby time and chance to learn. However, don’t wait to get help for your latching if needed especially for preemie.
Breastfeeding: How Much, How Often, How Long
How often does my baby need to breastfeed? How can I avoid colic while breastfeeding?
Hi there! When your baby is a newborn, you may need to breastfeed for about 8-12 times a day. If you are planning to bottle feed for a session, do ensure that you pump out your breast milk, so as to keep up your milk supply.
Breastfeeding with a good deep latch actually helps to prevent colic as your baby ingests less air. To prevent colic, check that your baby latches well and work with a lactation consultant to practise that latch soon after birth to set a good foundation. All the best!
When is the longest I can continue to breastfeed my child for? Is 6 too old?
WHO guideline is recommend exclusive breastfeeding at least 6 months and with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or longer as mother and baby desired.
How long to give baby breastfeeding? We need to breastfeed only when baby’s crying or we should set a fix timing? Any recommendation?
Breastfeeding on demand based on baby’s hunger cues before baby cry is recommended than stick to the schedule and feed as long as baby contented. These will signal the body to produce sufficient milk for the baby.
I’m already breastfeeding. My 3 week+ old baby can latch on me for 1-1.5hours even… is this normal? Also, should I feed him on 1 boob till he’s done or purposely make sure he latches on both boobs in every feed?
Congratulations! You are doing so well, mama! It’s actually quite common for a young baby to take a longer time at the breast; They may fall asleep, wake and latch again and fall asleep again. You might want to check that your baby’s latch is deep and correct to make sure the breast milk is removed effectively from your breasts, to ensure that your milk supply is not affected. A poor shallow latch can cause milk supply to be impacted.
With a deep latch, if your supply is well balanced, you can one breast after another if you feel the first breast you offered is drained well. It’s best that he drains the milk fully so he can get to the hind milk (or fatty milk). Should he be satisfied after the first breast, you can choose to pump out the other breast to maintain your milk supply. All the best!
How long should we breastfeed before stopping?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) encourages mothers to breastfeed for two years. There are many mums who opt to breastfeed beyond that. It really is up to you and your baby to decide how long you’d like to enjoy this relationship for, and how it is working for you and your family arrangement. If you have sufficient milk supply, go for it!
My baby is 40 days and he latches for 30 minutes. After how many weeks does the latching duration reduce for babies?
This is very subjective as all women’s breast capacity, breast functional tissues, baby’s appetite, and stomach size are different.
How to Increase Breastmilk Supply
How to increase milk supply?
There are many ways to do so, but the most tried-and-tested method is to nurse your baby on demand, especially in the first 2-6 weeks if possible. Plenty of skin-to-skin interactions with your baby helps too! Once your milk supply is established, you can add in a short pump session after nursing to signal more demand to your body. It may take a few days of doing so to see an effect, depending on responsive your body is. Speak to a lactation consultant for more details and guidance.
What happens if I’m a low supply mum?
There are many reasons for low milk supply. In order to prevent low milk supply, firstly, you need to have a deep latch to create demand and supply. Secondly, the breast structure to have enough glandular tissues to produce milk. Thirdly, pump management (8 to 10 times of pumping) with hand expression will help to increase milk supply.
I have tried breastfeeding for 2 previous birth and given medication to help with lactation but despite consistent pumping and zero problem with latching on, I still did not get much milk to feed een 1 feeding. Could it be possible some woman just do not have milk? I wanted to try for this 3rd birth.
The amount of mammary glands available in our breasts differ from woman to woman, and that can impact the amount of breast milk we have. That said, every baby is different as well. For your third birth, for breastfeeding success, it’s best to make sure breastfeeding is fully estabilished in the first two weeks postpartum. This can either be through pumping or latching. On top of that, since you’d be at the hospital to give birth, take the opportunity to raise your concern with the lactation consultants there who will be seeing you. They’d be most able to help. All the best!
I have stopped my day time pumping ever since I fully breastfed during the day and no longer feel engorged. I’ve stopped pumping during midnight for almost two weeks. Will that reduce my milk supply as a whole?
Breastfeeding and breast milk supply works in a demand-supply concept. When milk is removed less often from the breasts, this signals the body to make less milk as there’s less demand. When you stop pumping in the day and at night, your milk supply will eventually drop. That said, not to worry, if you are producing enough to nurse your baby fully, and your baby is contented and thriving, there’s no need to have a lot of supply. The key is balance! As long as your baby is fed and you have enough, that is great.
How to stay motivated to breastfeed despite seeing super low supply and feeling super tired after giving birth?
Hi mummy, we feel you! Giving birth and having to dive into breastfeeding and caring for your newborn right after is exhausting. Do tap on the support of your spouse and your family to see you and your baby through this season.
Breastfeeding works in a demand and supply concept. While it is tiring, frequent removal of milk from the breasts signals the body to produce more milk. Give your body time to adjust in the process and with consistent effort, it is likely your milk supply will increase. As such, you might want to consider finding a nursing position that allows you to lie on your side to rest while feeding your baby. Resting helps with milk supply, too!
Also, just to encourage you, some mums may not respond to pumping as well as breastfeeding, so don’t let the output discourage you. Go with nursing if you can, and go with your baby’s cues and number of wet diapers. This may be a better gauge than the pumped out amount.
What food can boost breast milk supply?
There isn’t a particular food that can guarantee a high milk yield right away. There’s some medication that can help with milk supply but at the heart of it, it still depends on the frequent removal of milk to make more milk. If you still feel unsure, it’s always a good idea to see a lactation consultant to help you navigate breastfeeding based on your lifestyle and preferences. You are doing your best!
I am returning to work in 2 weeks time and I feel that my milk supply has dropped perhaps due to stress. My baby is turning 5 months old and we do on-demand feeding. However, he is also going to start infant care next week. I am worried that I will not have enough milk for him. What can I do to help bring my supply up in a short time to freeze milk for him to bring to IFC?
To increase your milk supply in a short time, you may have to pump 15 minutes after each post-latching and power pump once per day to signal and challenge the body to make more milk.
Any advice for lazy boob?
Stimulation is the key to mobilise the lazy boob. Achievement comes with discipline just like start off a workout routine. Breastfeeding or milk removal at least 8 to 12 times per day will help.
If I’m a low supply mom (pumping 450 ml/day) after five months of giving birth, should I still try to breastfeed and how?
Human milk production is about demand=supply. It’s hard to give suggestions on boosting your milk supply without knowing your medical/lactation history. Generally, milk removal at least 8 to 12 times per day, stress management, and galactagogues will help in increasing your milk supply.
It has been 23 days since I gave birth and my breastmilk supply is still considered low at 50-60 ml and not able to meet my baby’s demand. I have tried lactation cookies, fenugreek tea, and green papaya soup. I alternate between pumping and latching every two to three hours. Does this mean I won’t have more supply?
Thumbs up, mummy, you are doing the best! To establish milk supply usually takes 6-8 weeks. Aside from pumping and latching, you may want to check the following: if you are using the correct flanges for your pump to ensure effectiveness of milk removal, how deep your baby is latching, and the total number of milk removals per day (at least 8-12 times per day).
I understand that it usually takes a while for milk supply to increase after giving birth. What happens if my baby is hungry? Do I supplement with formula?
Your milk supply and baby’s stomach is corresponding to each other. You may not need to supplement with formula unless medically indicated. The milk stages and amount is based on baby’s need. Whether baby is hungry or needs more milk, it’s crucial to get your baby back to the breast, so he/she could signal the breast to make what the baby’s needs.
Is it true that some mothers are born without many milk ducts? I tried all the methods, but still very little breastmilk for my second kid. I gave up within six weeks.
Mammary hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue or IGT, is a very uncommon condition that can cause low or no milk production. You may need assessment to identify before diagnosing this.
What can be done to improve hindmilk?
Frequent feeding or milk removal till breast turns soft and light, and then letting baby continue to feed on breast allows the baby to get more hindmilk.
Does drinking more milk means you will have more milk supply?
There’s no science-backed evidence that drinking more milk will help a mother to make more milk. Milk production is about demand=supply. The more frequently you remove the milk from the breast, the more milk you produce.
Will I have enough milk for twins?
Yes, absolutely. Mother nature will not starve your babies. Even a mother with triplets will produce sufficient milk for her babies.
I breastfeed both sides during every feed. But my breast feels softer on my left than my right. If baby sleeps through the night, I only feel engorged on my right. Does that mean I have lesser milk on the left?
It is perfectly normal to have one breast to produce more milk than the other.
Take note of the food you can consume and should avoid, according to Yvon Bock (IBCLC)
Best Breastfeeding Positions
What are the preferable positions for breastfeeding?
Hi there! There are a few common breastfeeding positions for new mums such as cradle and cross-cradle hold, football hold, side-lying and even laid-back position. The most preferable position is one that is most comfortable for you and baby!
Advice on Pumping and Storing Breastmilk
When do I start pumping if my baby latches but I want to store breast milk so that the baby can drink from the bottle when a need arises?
Hi there! Mother is highly recommended to prioritize in establishing milk supply first, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks. You may pump after each latching to build a milk stash for bottle feed after milk supply established. Hope this help!
Since milk may only come around three to five days after giving birth, do I start pumping then? Or do I start pumping from day one?
You can start pumping from day one if you are not able to latch your baby within six hours of giving birth. Pumping helps with nipple stimulation, which triggers milk flow and milk supply. However, if you are nursing, there isn’t actually a need to pump. Hand expression and breast massage will help to stimulate milk flow. Feeding on demand also helps to do that. Good news is that our babies’ stomachs are very small—the size of a cherry—at birth, so they don’t actually need so much milk for a start.
Is pumping and feeding through bottles less beneficial than breastfeeding? Are they different?
Yes, there’s a difference. Baby’s mouth action, suckling mechanism through bottle and breastfeeding are different. Baby latching will help in dental, jaw, and speech development in a long run.
Do I need to pump at regular intervals at night if I’m breastfeeding?
If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may not need to pump at night. Pump only if you want extra milk to stash up for returning back to work.
Currently pregnant at 34 weeks. Do I have to purchase any pumps first? Or can I wait till during confinement to do it?
Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you are nearing your EDD and if you will like to have your pump on standby if baby has trouble latching, you may start looking for one and purchase one. You might want to pay closer attention to how you should measure your nipples so you can get the flanges of the right size. Do work with a lactation consultant if you need closer guidance, as getting the right parts plays a major role in effective and efficient pumping!
How to pump while at work after maternity leave
When going to work, pump regularly every three hours. Here are some tips for you :
- Massage your breast before putting on the pump.
- Hand express to promote and allow milk flow before putting on the pump.
- Put on the double pump with comfortable settings.
- Sit comfortably.
- Listen to relaxation music or watch a baby video that helps you to relax and feel happy.
- Have a warm drink or snack to comfort yourself.
- Promote milk flow by applying breast compression on your breast while pumping. Avoid near the nipple or flange. Put pressure on the breast and then release and repeat the steps.
- After pumping, end with a breast massage (shake or a brief strokes) and hand expression. This step will help to increase your milk supply.
If I do direct latching, do I still need to pump? It is too tiring.
No, you don’t need to pump if you are exclusive breastfeeding (or breastfeeding 8 to 12 times a day). Pump only if you have a low milk supply to stimulate further production or you would like to build up a stash.
Does the same benefit applies if we were to pump instead of latching?
Breastmilk gives the complete source of nutrients for your little one regardless of whether you’re exclusive pumping or latching. However, latching gives extra more points which benefits both mother and baby, eg: milk removal more efficient, supply and composition meet baby’s need, appetite from time to time, promote baby’s jaw, dental, and speech development and etc.
With a faster flow from pumped breast milk via a bottle, how can I avoid over feeding since my baby will not recognise the full feeling as quickly?
Our babies are very smart and will realise when they are full. As parents, our role is to observe our babies’ cues and behaviours closely as an indication. When your baby pushes the teat out, turns the head away, or struggles after feeding for a while, you may want to take a break a bit and see if your baby is full already. Usually when a baby is full, they also tend to look content, and will not fuss when you remove the source of milk.
Another way is to practise paced bottle feeding. It is to mimic breastfeeding in the suck-swallow-breathe rhythm to allow small breaks in between sucks. This helps parents observe the baby as well.
Can I store breastmilk in the common fridge with other food? Do I need to buy a separate freezer do store?
You can store your breast milk in the chiller, right at the back of the refrigerator, if you intend to feed the milk within the next 2-3 days. Simply make space for your bottles, and set all uncooked, raw foods away from the bottles. It’s only when you are working towards creating a stash before returning to work that you might want to consider an additional freezer. Otherwise, there isn’t a pressing need to!
Is it normal for thawed breastmilk to taste metallic with a spit up smell? My baby did not reject the milk.
It’s normal due to the lipase properties in the breastmilk. It brings no harm and there is no intervention needed if your baby did not reject the milk.
When I pump with my current pump, I get very small quantities. But then I am able to hand express three times the pump quantity immediately after pumping. Does this mean I need to change the pump brand? Or does it have something to do with my supply?
Congratulations mummy, you do have a good supply! Some mums may respond to pump more, some mums may do so less. It could be due to the fit of your pump parts, such as the size of your flanges. You might want to see a lactation consultant to find the root of the cause. Other than that, we believe you have supply, and that’s great for you and your baby.
How effective is power pumping? Should a 60-minute power pump session with a 10-minute break differ from two 30-minute sessions two hours apart in terms of milk produced?
Power pumping is to mimic baby’s grow spurt or cluster feeding to increase milk supply. The effectiveness varies to individual. The duration for pumping based on you are using a single or double pump, each cycle is one hour.
Normally how long does one pumping of breastmilk last?
Generally it may take 15-20 minutes with correct flanges, but do keep in mind that one session may vary mother to mother due to different breast capacity.
How do I ensure effective milk clearance? Do I always have to pump after latching?
Your breasts will always be producing milk, so actually, they will not be completely or fully cleared. Even after a full feed or pump, there will still be a little milk when you massage your breasts and nipples. As long as your baby’s latch is deep and correct, and you feel no pain during breastfeeding, it is a good indication of milk removal. Additionally, it is also indicative that milk is removed when your breasts feel soft after a feed.
Pumping after latching will lead to an increase of your milk supply, as it signals more demand to your body. You don’t have to pump after latching if you have enough breast milk for your baby’s needs.
If my baby falls asleep after latching on one breast, should I pump out the milk from the other breast or leave it for the next latch?
Yes, please pump/clear to your comfort level on the unfed breast and not clear all milk from the unfed breast in order not to create oversupply.
How to Avoid Breastfeeding Pain and Ease Discomfort
Is it normal to feel pain when breastfeeding?
Some mothers may feel the areola stretching uncomfortable when the baby first latches on for about 20-30 seconds. However, it should feels comfortable after that.
What can we do when we face engorgement?
Prevention is better than cure. To prevent is to breastfeed or do milk removal regularly three hourly. Assessment of the degree of engorgement is needed before we could further advise. The aim is to clear the milk stasis, pain management, and resolve breast engorgement. If unable to solve the engorgement, please get help.
What kind of massages can be done to relieve engorgement?
There are many approaches to relieving engorgement, so it depends on the severity or degree of engorgement. Breast massage will ease the milk flow before milk removal to relieve the engorgement. You may have your preferred way of breast massage to promote milk flow. There’s one breast massage called oketani breast massage that is claimed to be effective, yet it still needs more study on it.
How do I prevent getting cuts and feeling pain during breastfeeding? I hear that breastfeeding is very painful and am afraid of it.
Cuts and pains from breastfeeding are indication that the baby’s latch and breastfeeding position are incorrect. We’d encourage you to go for a lactation consultation or attend an antenatal class to learn more about breastfeeding to prepare you for it. Breastfeeding with a correct and deep latch doesn’t cause pain. All the best!
What can I do to alleviate sore nipples?
You can consider putting nipple cream to help with the soreness and discomfort. Some mummies also put their own breastmilk to help! That said, the main cause for sore nipples is typically shallow latching. You’d need to encourage your baby to have a deep latch to reduce sore nipples.
Deep latch is so important to help maintain your milk supply as well. A baby gets the full nursing from a deep latch, removes the milk effectively so your body makes more milk. Shallow latch usually leads to sore nipples, clogged ducts, and poorer milk removal, which causes milk supply to be affected. Do see a lactation consultant to help your baby improve the latching technique so you and baby can have a better breastfeeding experience!
I’m quite worried about clogged milk ducts and mastitis. Any tips for prevention or to ease it when it happens?
Absolutely, you can prevent it by regular milk removal from the breasts, avoiding tight bras, getting the fit flanges for your breast pump, and ensuring your baby is latching right!
Can mama feed mastitis milk to baby? It tastes salty.
It’s normal for the breastmilk to taste salty as sodium level is elevated when you have mastitis. It’s safe to give to your baby, unless you are taking contraindicated antibiotics for breastfeeding.
Should I do cold compression or warm compression if there’s a blocked duct?
Warm compress to ease milk flow before milk removal is efficient for blocked duct without engorgement and mastitis.
My boobs (not the nipple area) get itchy after breastfeeding at times. Would Bepanthen cream help and will it affect subsequent breastfeeding?
First of all, did doctor assess and prescribe the cream? You may need to clean the nipple before feeding.
Safety Dos and Don’ts While Breastfeeding
Is it necessary to massage the breasts every time before breastfeeding? If yes, how long would be good?
It is not necessary to massage the breasts every time before breastfeeding unless for special needs or premature babies.
Should I clean my nipples before and after feeding? Can I use a fragrant shower gel to clean them?
It is not necessary to clean your nipples before and after feeding as your areola’s Montgomery glands have antibacterial properties. You may also want to avoid using a shower gel on your nipples that may wash off this unique property, change the smell (babies search for breast via smell to latch on), and cause nipple dryness.
Can I dye my hair while breastfeeding?
Yes, you can dye your hair. There is hardly any chemical that passes into breastmilk.
Can I eat cabbage while breastfeeding?
You can eat cabbage in moderate amounts. Depending on your body’s sensitivity to cabbage, it most likely won’t have such a great impact on your breastmilk supply if it’s not a large amount you are eating. If you are concerned, it may be best to opt for another vegetable instead.
Can we consume Chinese wine dishes if we want to breastfeed?
You absolutely can, as long as your wine is cooked and you are not drunk after you consume.
Other than alcohol and caffeine, what other food restrictions are there when we breastfeed?
Most food options are safe for consumption when you are breastfeeding. Mothers are actually encouraged to eat a wide variety of food so as to flavour the breast milk. Breastfed babies are also less likely to be picky eaters. That said, certain foods that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, and tile fish, should be avoided as mercury may impact your baby’s development negatively.
I am on a vegetarian diet. Will this affect my supply?
If you are vegan, you may need to take supplement of vitamin B12. Usually being a lacto-ovo vegetarian has no impact if mother has a well-balanced diet.
Do I need to pump and dump if I consumed alcohol?
If it has been three hours, you may not need to pump and dump.
Here’s a list of nursing gear that can help ease your breastfeeding journey
Is a nursing chair necessary?
A nursing chair provides some comfort and support for breastfeeding but it’s not a must, as long as you can find other well-supported, comfortable nursing positions for you and your baby. Some mums even prefer nursing via a side-lying position as it is most comfortable.
What’s a good nursery set up like? (e.g. nursing chair, nursing pillow required?)
A good nursing room is a place where you feel most comfortable and at ease nursing. This can look very different for individual mothers. One may prefer nursing sitting up, and one may prefer nursing lying down. The most important thing to do is to know what your preferred breastfeeding position is and structure your nursing room that way will be best!
Is nipple shield helpful in breastfeeding?
Yes, indeed. However, eventually you need to wean it off.
Are uv sterilisation ofmilk bottles necessary ?
It is advisable to sterilise milk bottles when baby is young up to six months as baby’s immunity is low.
Pregnancy and Your Period While Breastfeeding
Is it true that breastfeeding also acts as contraception? I heard you can’t get pregnant when you are still breastfeeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding, which is breastfeeding on demand and around the clock (especially at night), is a type of contraception and has an effective rate of 98% if you do so for the first 6 months, with 2% chances of pregnancy. However, pumping or introducing solids will cause this effectiveness to drop. Additionally, you can be ovulating even if you are not menstruating. We’d highly recommend for you to consider an alternative contraceptive on standby if you intend to do family-planning.
Is it true that I won’t have menses while I am breastfeeding?
Your menstruation will return if the interval of breastfeeding gap is six hours or more for a prolonged period of time. Also, after six months of exclusive breastfeeding and solids are introduced, relying on breastfeeding as your go-to option for contraceptive may not be as reliable.
Do I need to stop breastfeeding before conceiving another baby?
Do note that even without menstruating, you can still be ovulating! Some mothers do continue breastfeeding during their pregnancy. But better to be safe and consult your doctor regarding any risk of contraction during pregnancy. If you experience contractions, your doctor may not encourage you to continue breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and Baby-related Concerns
My three-month-old baby seems constipated, with no bowel movement for five days. He drinks 50% formula milk and 50% expressed milk. He is fussy, cries more often, and drinks less 30% than usual. Should I give him 30ml water in between feeds?
You may want to check if the baby’s abdomen is tense, you may want to bring baby to consult Paediatrician if you are unsure on the abdomen assessment. 30mls of water may not be recommended since baby’s milk intake had reduced 30%, as that could further affect his intake.
Do I have to burp my baby after breastfeeding?
You may not need to burp your baby post breastfeeding as baby sealed the breast to vacuum the milk. But burp baby before feeding to wake baby up, when baby cries, and after baby gulps down breastmilk during breastfeeding.
What if I am lacking in certain vitamins like vitamin D? Do I add vitamin D drops to my breast milk? How do I ensure that my breast milk contains the sufficient nutrients for my baby?
A mother who has Vitamin D deficiency may need to take supplement vitamin D 400 to 600 IU per day. It’s highly recommended to consult your doctor and perform a blood test to find out your vitamin D level before taking any supplement. Breastmilk has the complete source of nutrients and the composition changes according to baby’s need from time to time. Study shows that a mother with moderate malnutrition has little or no effect on milk production.
Why can my breastfeeding baby only drink water after six months?
Breastmilk has sufficient water content, at nearly 88%, to relieve baby’s thirst. Based on WHO and Singapore BFHI guidelines, you can introduce water after six months old when your baby starts eating solid food.
After breastfeeding for 20 minutes, my baby still seems hungry and frustrated. But when I pump out, my breastmilk is actually enough for one feed. Does it mean I’m not suitable for breastfeeding?
We might need to assess the latching and feeding session before we could advise. However, if immediately after latching you are still able to pump for one feed (e.g. 30-50 ml), it could be due to a shallow latch, which causes inefficient milk removal or oversupply.
Sometimes my baby tends to make noises while latching and once she unlatches, she cries. Why does this happen?
The most common issues such as shallow latch and lip-tie/tongue-tie may contribute to the clicking sound during latch. Milk removal from breast may be affected because your baby is not taking sufficient milk, which also affects mother’s milk supply. It is advisable to have a session with a lactation consultation so she/he could assess the latching.
Will the food I eat will affect my baby when breastfeeding? Sometimes I will eat fast food or processed food like instant noodles.
The nutrients from the food we eat go to our breast milk and to our baby. Hence, it’s important to have a healthy diet with a variety of foods. Mothers need good food, too, to boost their health and provide them with sufficient calories for breastfeeding. Empty calories often found in snacks and junk food do not benefit you nor your baby. While you may eat it once in a while, it’s best to keep it minimal.
The baby is hungry, but the flow is slow. How do I cope with this situation?
It can be difficult to hear the baby cry and fuss when the flow is slower. It may be good to do a five-minute breast massage prior to feeding your baby to encourage milk flow. Alternatively, you may want to do a quick five-minute pump to stimulate your breasts so when your baby latches, the milk is already flowing. More importantly, it’s good to take the opportunity to observe your baby closely and feed baby before he/she gets too hungry.
If my baby has jaundice and I have no breastmilk for the first four days, do I give formula?
If baby is on formula milk due to medically indicated condition such as high jaundice and needs intensive phototherapy, the mother is highly advised to mimic baby’s feeding on the breast to signal the breasts to produce sufficient milk by milk removal from the breast. Hand express and double pump with hospital grade breast pump at least 8-12 times per day.
Advice on Mixed Feeding
With my first child, I was not able to give her exclusive breastmilk no matter how I tried. I really don’t have much confidence that I can provide my second child with exclusive breastmilk because of my first experience. Will it be the same the second time around?
We experienced some mums facing the same issue as you for their previous child and they were able to achieve their feeding goal after a prenatal and postnatal consultation with us! Knowing the keys to kick start and establish milk supply is crucial, especially the first two weeks after birth.
Due to low supply, my 3.5-month-old baby was fed with a mix of breast milk and formula milk in his first six weeks of life. Is there a difference in health benefits between mix feeding and exclusive breastfeeding? He’s since been taking full breast milk now.
Breastmilk has the complete source of nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs. The composition changes according to your baby’s needs which formula may not be able to replace.
Rest is extremely important to a breastfeeding mother, so please get as much sleep as you can, mummy!
Breastfeeding and Sleep
As advised, we should breastfeed and not rely on the milk bottles. But how do we get the “quality sleep/rest” if we should be breastfeeding every two to three hours?
Sleep is important, mother is encourage to rest whenever baby is rest. In fact, whether a mother breastfeeds or not, a newborn baby who loses the nutrients supply from the placenta will wake up to feed every 2-3 hours to grow and survive in the extrauterine environment.
If I only bottle feed from three weeks onwards, does it mean I feed baby all the time for the first two weeks? How can I rest then?
A newborn baby needs to feed 8 to 12 times a day on demand to establish milk supply. You may need to sleep whenever baby sleeps to get sufficient sleep or rest. Bottle offering once is encouraged when you have established your milk supply between six and eight weeks.
Post-Breastfeeding: What to Expect
Do nipples go back to their original size after breastfeeding?
Absolutely, the areola colour and size will return to their pre-pregnancy state after weaned off breastfeeding (or latching).
Dad’s Role in Supporting His Breastfeeding Wife
As a dad, how do I better support my nursing wife
This is so sweet of you to want to support your wife! There’s much a dad and a husband can do for the wife in this season. The most important of all is to be her advocate and cheerleader for the decisions that she wants to make regarding breastfeeding. Taking the initiative to wash the bottles and pump parts after she pumps and/or burp the baby after she nurses are always good ways to start.
Go for antenatal class together or a lactation consultation if she needs, so both of you are on the same page, and have the same knowledge regarding breastfeeding. Watch out for her and observe her if she is tired or hungry, and offer to bring her food, or hold the baby. Those actions are often much appreciated!
Last but not least, if you are in doubt, you can always have an honest conversation with her regarding her needs. By putting her first you’d make her feel cherished and important. She’d be thankful for that!
Unable to Breastfeed: What to Do
Is the inability to breastfeed a genetical disorder? Maternal side of familly all could not breastfeed, my female cousins are unable too. I am 5 months pregnant now, fearful this might happen to me.
Hi there! Highly recommend to have a prenatal lactation consultation as IBCLC need to have more thorough history taking,asessment and share the tips to kick start to a successful breastfeeding. Post delivery to follow up with LC is advisable so they could hand hold you to ensure your breastfeeding success.
Will fibroadenoma affect breastfeeding?
They do not usually interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed.
There is a lot of emphasis and encouragement to breastfeed. At baby fairs, the formula milk companies are not allowed to promote nor sell newborn milk. Not all supermarkets sell newborn milk either—that, or the entire range is not available. When I try to order online, there are warning signs to breastfeed below six months everywhere. Although I would also like to breastfeed after giving birth, I am not sure if I am able to. And this has become extremely stressful.
Hi mummy, we hear you! It can feel stressful and frustrating when there almost seems to be no alternative. At HLC, we believe a lot in having a positive mindset towards breastfeeding. Our bodies start producing milk at Week 16 during pregnancy. We do have some milk!
There are a few non-formula alternatives to feeding your baby if nursing is not an option for you. You can consider pumping your milk, establish your supply and have the milk fed to your baby via a cup, syringe or even a bottle. Work with a lactation consultant to see how you can do so effectively and maintaining or even growing your milk supply. This will be most helpful.
Having a breastfeeding plan also helps you align with your goals. We may need some help along some bumps along the way, but having a plan helps us get back on track and still return to breastfeeding.
Most importantly, your rest and your emotional health is most crucial to a positive breastfeeding journey. Get your spouse and family to help, or check in with a medical person with your concerns and feelings.
About the Expert:
Yvon Bock is the Founder & CEO of Hegen Pte Ltd, Singapore’s leading mother and baby care brand with an international presence in over 17 markets. She is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a proud mother of four wonderful children, three boys and one girl – all breastfed and the key motivation behind creating Hegen as an eco-system that addresses the challenges many breastfeeding mothers go through. Exuding a warm and gregarious personality coupled with over 10 years of personal breastfeeding experience, Yvon is committed to provide the gold standard in lactation support and care for parents and babies with a holistic experience through education, full consultations and training services so as to encourage breastfeeding and guide every parent on their unique nursing journey.