Expert Answers for Breastfeeding FAQs

From our friends at Adventist Health Portland:

Hispanic woman holding baby boy in lap

Even though it’s a natural process, breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally — it’s a journey that can take weeks or even months for parents and babies to learn together.

Adventist Health Portland lactation consultant Nina Horn, IBCLC, answers some common breastfeeding questions from new parents.

Q: How is breastfeeding beneficial for both of us?

Breastfeeding is protective for both baby and mother, Nina says. “Your breast milk is made for your baby and has everything they need to grow,” she explains. “Breast milk may even protect your baby from illnesses such as asthma, ear infections and respiratory infections.”

As for moms, breastfeeding can protect them against diabetes and high blood pressure and even reduce their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Q: When should I start pumping or trying bottles?

Generally, it’s recommended to wait until breastfeeding is established before pumping, but every situation is different. “It really depends on your unique needs and circumstances. If breastfeeding is going well, there’s no need to pump or offer bottles unless you want to,” says Nina. “However, pumping may be recommended much earlier if your baby is having challenges with latching or weight gain or is born early.”

Some moms who are planning to return to work may add in an extra pumping session a couple times a day to begin freezing a milk stash. Your lactation consultant may also recommend pumping to help increase milk production.

Q: What can I do about a low milk supply?

Many factors contribute to milk production, such as how often you are nursing or pumping, your flange size and how you pump, or your baby’s ability to remove milk. Nina recommends seeking help from a lactation consultant. “A lactation consultant can work with you to help determine the reason and offer suggestions to increase your production in a way that works for you,” says Nina. “Feeding frequently from the time your baby is born and getting support for any concerns early on help ensure milk production is off to a robust start.”

Q: Why am I experiencing pain with breastfeeding?

Initial soreness with breastfeeding is common, but you should seek help if it lasts beyond the first two weeks or is severe. “A shallow latch is the most common reason for nipple pain, but it could also be related to positioning, tongue tie, tension in your baby or even vasospasms,” says Nina. “And breast pain may be due to engorgement or inflammation we often call ‘plugged ducts.’”

Your lactation consultant can help find the cause and how to fix it, often simply. Adjusting baby’s latch can help with nipple pain. Using cold compresses helps reduce inflammation in your breast.


Finding expert help

If you’re experiencing problems with breastfeeding, get expert support. Clinic appointments — available through Adventist Health’s two women’s clinic locations — offer support after you take your baby home. Learn more on the Adventist Health website.

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