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Postpartum Education

Now that your baby has been born, you have many questions about lactation and how to support for your journey. Keep reading... 

Milk Supply

  • The most common chest/lactating parent concerns are

1. The worry of not making enough milk (insufficient milk supply).

2. The baby is not attaching (latching) to the parent’s chest/breast.

3. Painful nipples or chests/breasts.

If you have any of these, talk to your lactation provider immediately. 

  • Three factors influence how often you feed your baby:

1. The amount of milk your chest/breast can make 

2. The amount of milk your baby's stomach can hold

3. The time it takes for your baby's stomach to empty.

  • After a feeding session, the amount of fat in your milk can show us how much milk is left in your breasts.

  • You should chest/breastfeed or pump 8 to 12 times daily to help your milk come in and build your milk supply. 

  • Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) can increase your milk production. (Insert image of a mom/parent doing kangaroo care).

  • You should try to feed your infant from both chests/breasts at each feeding. If your baby is full after one side, offer the other side at the start of the next feed. 

  • Positions

    • Using different positions and ensuring your baby attaches (latches) onto your nipple will help release hormones (oxytocin and prolactin). More of these hormones in your bloodstream will help increase your milk supply. 

    • Make sure the baby's mouth and nose are visible when latched. 

    • Ensure your baby's neck isn't bent when contact is made to the chest/breast.

  • During your feeding sessions, learn more about your baby. How often do they suck before they take a break? How long or short is your baby's suck? How long does the feeding session last?

  • It is normal for your baby to lose some weight in the first few days. Here is a great reference to check your newborn’s weight loss: Newborn Weight Loss Tool

  • In the first few days after birth: 

  • Keeping your baby with you as much as possible in the hospital room (24-hour rooming-in) will help you make more milk for your baby and help you learn how hungry they are (aka feeding cues).  

  • Cluster feeding (a series of feedings close together) is expected to help increase your milk supply. 

  • Your baby will get about a teaspoon of colostrum during each feeding or 1 ounce (37 mL) to 5.5 ounces (169 mL) daily. This amount is enough because their bellies are tiny.

  • If you use a pacifier, ensure your baby does not have problems attaching (latching) to your chest/breast first. 

  • Avoid setting a time limit for chest/breastfeeding. Allowing your baby to feed "on-demand" will increase your milk supply.

  • By week one, as you chest/breastfeed or pump: 

  • Throughout the day, the amount of milk your baby consumes decreases. For some infants, this could be as low as 1.5 ounces. Ask your lactation provider if you should be concerned about your milk supply.

  • Is your baby sleeping longer than 4 hours at a time, feeding more than 12 times daily, showing no signs of swallowing, or having less than four wet or poopy diapers? 

  • When your milk is fully in, your baby will drink up to 9 ounces (over 1 cup) daily. Your milk supply will be fully established about one month after birth. 

  • There is no relationship between the amount of milk drank and the time spent feeding. For example, your baby could nurse for 7 minutes but consume 7 ounces.

  • As babies get older, they empty their chest/breasts quickly. A feed that lasts 30 minutes may take less time.  

  • Your baby may want to feed more yet still not be ready for solid food. They may be unwell, having a growth spurt, teething, or reacting to stress. Try offering your baby both chests/breasts during each feed.

  • Let your lactation provider know if you have concerns about your milk supply. Use any links to the right, specifically the one labeled Ottawa County Resources.

Nutritional Facts  

  • During your baby's first feed, they will receive about one teaspoon of colostrum.

  • Unlike formula, your milk changes to meet your baby's nutritional needs. Nutrients in your milk change based on the age of your infant to meet their specific needs. For example, your milk nutrients change when your baby or infant is in a growth spurt.

  • While chest/breastfeeding and pumping, keep taking your prenatal vitamins and fish oil supplements (or omega-3 fatty acids). Make sure you get the recommended daily amount of zinc, vitamin B6, Calcium, and folic acid.

  • Many studies have shown that children of parents who took fish oil supplements while chest/breastfeeding and pumping had higher IQs than children whose parents took nothing.

  • As babies get older, they become much more efficient feeders, and a feed that may previously have lasted around half an hour may now take a significantly shorter time.

  • When your baby is between 1 and 6 months old, their daily energy requirements slowly drop from 225 to 175 calories/pound.

  • Regarding supplements and solids:

    • For babies who only drink human milk-fed, this is the only source of nutrition required until at least the middle of the first year. Human milk will also be the leading food well beyond, even when solid food is added.

    • Avoid formula or solid food feeding your baby unless your lactation consultant and health provider say it's necessary.

    • Try not to add solids to replace human milk too early. This may lead to undernutrition, imbalance of nutrients, or poor weight gain. Human milk is an important source of nutrition and calories.

    • When babies are born, they have a reflex called the tongue thrust, which makes them push food out of their mouths. At about six months, babies will lose this reflex, which is a sign that they are ready for solid food.

    • Not all babies will start eating solids at the same time. Allow your baby to start eating solid foods according to their unique timetable. Start introducing solids when your healthcare provider recommends doing so.

    • Although you will introduce your chest/breastfed baby to the exciting world of solid foods from around six months of age, your milk will remain their most important food until at least 12 months. 

    • Do not give your newborn any food or fluid other than human milk unless your healthcare and lactation provider says otherwise.

Financial Benefits

  • Chest/breastfeeding or pumping will save you money. 

  • Formula costs more than food for a lactating parent.

  • Human milk feeding lowers the costs of healthcare! 

  • Human milk-fed babies are less likely to get sick throughout their lives.

Fun Facts

  • Any amount of human milk your baby can get is better than none.

  • Chest/breastfeeding can be more convenient than formula and is a great timesaver. Unlike formula, chest/breastfeeding doesn't need sterilizing, measuring, mixing, or heating. And you don't have to worry about packing supplies or finding the right formula, bottle, and nipple flow. 

  • Lactation Myth: Human milk feeding makes your chest/breast sag. Pregnancy stretches the ligaments of your chest/breast tissue, whether your chest/breast/ pump or not. 

  • Most babies swallow quietly. Swallowing may sound like quiet gasps or sighs in the back of the baby’s throat or actual gulps.

Health Benefits for YOU

  • Human milk feeding for a longer time may lead to greater self-confidence. 

  • Any human milk feeding will decrease your chances of a stroke later in life.

  • Chest/breastfeeding and pumping can decrease the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. 

  • Human milk feeding may help you to lose weight. Parents who exclusively chest/breastfeed and pump can burn as many as 600 calories daily, which may help them regain their pre-pregnancy weight. When nursing, you should consume at least 1800 calories daily and take a prenatal multivitamin.

  • Human milk feeding allows your body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth quickly. The hormones released when chest/breastfeeding and pumping make your uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. 

Health Benefits for YOUR Infant

  • Human milk feedings will:

    • Prevents newborn and child deaths more effectively than any other intervention.

    • Protect your baby from infections.

    • Protect infants from certain childhood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.

    • Lower your baby's risk of stomach problems (acute gastroenteritis) by half to a third.

    • Decrease your infant's asthma and atopic dermatitis risks.

    • Decrease the chance of sudden infant death (SIDS) by 15-36%.

  • Help your infant develop strong jaw bones, decreasing jaw and tooth problems. They also have stronger bones, which will help prevent osteoporosis.

  • Decrease your infant's risks of being overweight or having high blood pressure as a child and adult.

  • Human milk feeding provides your baby with healthy things like antibodies, immune factors, and stem cells, which are only found in human milk. Chest/breastfeeding will decrease harmful bacteria from growing in your baby’s gut. 

  • Chest/breast/pumping fed for six months or more will provide your infant with a source of nutrition designed just for your baby.

  • Your infant’s chances of getting COVID-19 from you during chest/breastfeeding or pumping are very low if you wear a face mask. If you have COVID-19 or had the vaccine, you will pass on healthy antibodies in your milk and protect your infant. 

Mental Health/Decreasing Stress and Anxiety  

  • If you have any concerns about your mental health, please call your healthcare provider or call 988 (free mental health hotline).

  • Most new parents experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their baby. If you feel this way, it's normal. You are encouraged to discuss these feelings with others, such as your healthcare or lactation provider.

  • Many things in your lactation journey can cause stress or make you want to quit, but that will not make you a bad parent. The fact that you're trying to feed your baby already makes you a great parent!

  • Sometimes, babies can cry even when they don't need anything. They might just be looking for comfort, or perhaps they’re experimenting with new forms of communication. 

  • It is normal to feel nervous to take care of your baby. It will take time to adjust to a new schedule, new roles, and a feeding routine once at home. 

  • "Baby blues" after childbirth include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and may last up to two weeks. 

  • If you are feeling depressed, speak with your healthcare provider. Help is available since your body releases certain hormones when nursing, chest/breastfeeding, and pumping can reduce depression.

  • Human milk-fed babies wake up more at night because milk digests quicker than formula. But chest/breast/pumped-fed babies are awake for a shorter time and fall asleep faster than formula-fed babies.  

  • Do you feel like you aren't getting much sleep as a chest/breastfeeding and pumping parent? Research shows that lactating parents get twice the amount of slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) at night than formula-feeding parents or parents without children.  

Planning Tips

  • When is your appointment scheduled after you go home from the hospital? You should have an appointment scheduled 3-5 days after birth or 2-3 days after leaving the hospital. Your provider will use this appointment to see how your infant is doing and how chest/breast/pumping feedings are going. 

  • A mindset that chest/breastfeeding and pumping is healthier, easier, and more convenient can help your chest/nurse for longer. 

  • Diapers.

    • Days 1-3: 3 wet diapers, 1 poopy in the first 24-48 hours.

    • Days 3-5: 2-5 wet diapers and 3-4 poopy diapers every day

    • (any visual on what a poopy diaper means could be helpful – quarter size)

    • Days 5-7: Human milk-fed babies should have 4-6 wet diapers and 3-6 poopy diapers daily. 

  • What to expect at night:

    • Most babies, up to six months of age, typically have chest/human milk-fed at night.

    • s babies get older, daytime feeds can be less effective. So, instead, you should focus on getting a good feed at nap times when the baby may feed to sleep. 

    • Some babies eat more at night than during the day, which can be 20% of their milk intake. 

    • When your baby starts to sleep longer at night (around 4-6 weeks), the time between your last night feeding session and the morning could be as long as 11 to 11 1/2 hours. Some parents will pump at night, but feel free to sleep in. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding your baby only your milk for the first six months and up to two years of age.

  • Consider contacting local lactation support groups. 

  • Chest/breast/pump feeding is easier for those with support (doula, partner, or family member) in the birthing room. What's a doula? Check out Dona

  • What you read online will influence your chest/breast/pump feeding-related attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors, leading to a longer time of chest/breast/pump feeding. Make sure you are following influencers that support your feeding decisions.

  • Are you thinking about returning to work and continuing to chest/breastfeed or pump?

  • Have you found a chest/breast pump to meet your needs? 

  • Ask your lactation or health provider for some suggestions. 

  • Did you know, your employer is required to give you breaks for you to pump?

  • Have you made a plan with your employer for work breaks?

  • Know your rights. 

  • Look at this resource by Michigan Breastfeeding Network: Federal Comparison - MIBFN Workplace Protection for Pregnant, Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding Parents.

  • Are you taking medications? Click on the QR codes labeled E-Lactancia and Infant Risk Reference Resources. Both websites list drugs not recommended for chest/breastfeeding and pumping.

Pumping Tips 

#1: Make sure you choose the right pump and the flanges (the pump part covering the nipple). [Add a link to an image for proper fitting of a pump)

#2: Make sure you set up your pumping station to be relaxing.

#3: Avoid comparing yourself to others. Each lactating parent makes a different milk volume.

#4: Make sure you clean your equipment regularly.

Safe Sleep  

  • Safe sleep practices include eliminating hazards, such as keeping blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of the sleeping area.

  • Place your baby on their back for every sleep.

What to Avoid

  • Keep your coffee or caffeinated beverages to a small amount when chest/breastfeeding or pumping. Caffeine can cause a decrease in healthy minerals like iron in your milk.

  • Avoid smoking or being close to others who are smoking while you are feeding your baby! Smoking decreases milk supply and puts your baby at risk for potential breathing problems.

  • If you have a history of herpes and find any lesions on your chest, do not feed your milk to your baby until you talk to your healthcare or lactation provider. Pump to keep up your milk supply.

Common Lactation Concerns

  • Is it painful when your baby attaches (latches) to your chest/breast? Have you noticed lumps in your chest/breast? Do you have pain and a fever? Are you feeling sad and/or doubting your parenting abilities? Call your lactation or health provider to talk more. 

  • To treat engorgement, apply a cold compress and ask your healthcare provider if taking ibuprofen is necessary. Rest and pump when you are not feeling well, but you should continue to chest/breast and pump feed.

  • Mastitis

    • Start with preventing:

      • Feed your baby on demand.

      • Ensure your infant empties your chest/breasts regularly but minimize chest/breast pumping.

      • Change feeding positions regularly.

      • Wear a well-fitting bra.

      • Avoid deep chest/breast massaging.

    • Management:

      • Do NOT wean your baby. This can make the pain worse.

      • Decrease swelling using ice pads.

      • Gently massage the chest/breast when nursing or in a warm shower. Start from the top of the affected area and massage down to the nipple.

      • See your health provider for a formal diagnosis. They will complete an exam and may take a sample of your milk to culture your milk to see what is the best treatment for you. Your provider might have you take:

        • Antibiotics

        • Pain relievers

          • Ibuprofen 800 mg every 8 hour 

          • Acetaminophen/paracetamol 1,000 mg every 8 hours

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