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Breastfeeding: A guide for new mothers by a lactation consultant

Breastfeeding: A guide for new mothers by a lactation consultant

One of the first decisions you will have to make as a new mom is how you will feed your baby.  Thankfully, there are very few true barriers to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not easy, but but for mothers who are able to breastfeed, it can have immense benefits for both mom and baby. We asked Heather Gorman, Children’s Hospital NICU Nurse and Lactation Consultant, to talk through some frequently asked questions, and common misconceptions on breastfeeding.


How long and how often should baby feed?

All babies are different! Some babies may be able to empty your breast in 5 minutes, for others it might take 20-30 minutes/per breast. This will change as your baby grows older. This time will grow shorter because your baby will become much more efficient at nursing with all the practice they've been getting.

How can I tell if baby is getting enough milk?

There are 2 major ways to know if your baby is getting enough milk:

(1). baby is gaining weight

(2). baby is having wet and dirty diapers.

Your baby will likely seem like they nurse ALL THE TIME at first. This is good. A fussy baby that eats every hour and has several wet/dirty diapers does not concern me nearly as much as a baby that latches for 5 minutes on each breast every 3 hours and never cries.

Are there any foods I should avoid while breastfeeding?

Some sources suggest avoiding gassy foods such as beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. In moderation, these foods should not cause issues. If you live in New Orleans, there's a very high chance someone will make you red beans and rice. If someone cooks you a meal as a new mom, eat it!! 

Should I avoid caffeine and alcohol while breastfeeding?

No, as long as you drink them in moderation.

Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Absolutely! You will usually get your cycle back around the time baby starts sleeping through the night (for me this was around 6 months). You will ovulate before you have a period, so don't wait on your period to come back before using some form of birth control.

Is breast milk better than formula?

Bottom line is: fed is best. Both breast milk and formula have all the nutrients that your baby needs to grow. Breastmilk has far more than just nutrients though, it has antibodies, enzymes, and hormones that no formula can replicate. Breast milk changes with every feed to give your baby exactly what they need and no formula will ever be able to do that. With all that being said, the only thing that really matters is that your baby is fed and the decision to breastfeed is up to you.


>>> A bottle of breast milk is the same as breast milk from the breast.

As I mentioned before, fed, whether you breastfeed, pump and bottle feed, or use formula, is best. However you are able or choose to feed your baby is what is best for you and your family. Breast milk can be best explained as two-way street. Proteins and antigens in your baby’s saliva enter the breast when you feed. This allows your body to make milk personalized to your baby at that point in time. Another benefit to putting your baby directly to the breast vs. pumping if and bottle feeding, if you are able to, has to do with hormones. Your body makes more cortisol in the morning, meaning your baby gets more cortisol in the morning and will be more awake and alert. At night, your body makes more melatonin (the sleep hormone) meaning your baby is getting more melatonin and will be more sleepy at night. Again, fed is best, so do what works for you and your baby.

>>> Your baby has to take both breasts at every feed.

While it is a good habit to offer both breasts at each feed, it is not necessary. Please do not wake up your sleeping baby because they fell asleep after only feeding on one breast. Just make sure you offer the breast that they didn’t feed on first for the next feeding.

>>> My boobs are too small.

If you had a double mastectomy this might be true, otherwise, it’s not at all. Some people with very small breasts have been the biggest overproducers I’ve ever known.

Learn more about how Children’s Hospital supports breastfeeding mothers

For more breastfeeding information, resources, and personalized support, visit Heather’s website: