How long does breastfeeding take? What should you do if you’re sick? Get expert answers to some common questions.

Women's Health | 3 years ago

FAQs About Breastfeeding

How long does breastfeeding take? What should you do if you’re sick? Get expert answers to some common questions.

Editor’s Note: This is a shortened version of an article featured in Atrium Health’s “Your Guide to Pregnancy & Motherhood.” To read more, get your free copy of the guide

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural parts of being a new mom. So, why doesn’t it always come more naturally?

For as easy as it might look or seem, here’s the truth: Breastfeeding can be difficult for you and your baby. But just like everything else with motherhood, it’s something you’ll figure out together.

Ariel Haddad, DO, an OB/GYN at Atrium Health NorthEast Women's Health & Obstetrics and Jan Ellen Brown, IBCLC, RLC, a lactation consultant at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Charlotte Pediatric Clinic, teamed up to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.

To see what else they have to say about breastfeeding your baby, be sure to download a free copy of Atrium Health’s “Your Guide to Pregnancy & Motherhood.”

FAQs About Breastfeeding

Question 1: How long does breastfeeding take?

Answer 1: It can vary from baby to baby, but breastfeeding usually takes around 30 to 40 minutes.

Q2: What kind of pump should I get?

A2: Most pumps work for most women, but the best ones are electric and can pump both breasts at the same time. Contact your health insurance company before your baby is born to see if your policy covers breast pumps.

Q3: What else should I buy?

A3: Nursing pillows make breastfeeding more comfortable, and nursing tank tops offer coverage. Coconut oil and lanolin help soothe nipple pain and cracks, as well as stretch marks.

Nipple shields can be a temporary fix for latch problems, but they can also make it more difficult to transfer milk to your baby. Use them only under your healthcare provider’s guidance.

Q4: How should breast milk be stored?

A4: Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for about 6 months.  

You can store breast milk in bags or bottles – either way, just make sure the container is intended for breast milk storage.

Q5: Will I need to change my diet while breastfeeding?

A5: Unless you think your baby might have a food allergy or intolerance, you can generally eat whatever you want while breastfeeding. Make sure your diet is healthy and full of good nutrients, and enjoy junk foods only in moderation.

And one more thing: Breastfeeding moms burn about 500 extra calories each day, so you’ll need to increase your caloric intake with good sources of protein and healthy carbs.

Q6: Do I need to stop taking medications while breastfeeding?

A6: Most medications are safe – and if they aren’t, there’s usually a substitute you can take. Make sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking before you start breastfeeding.

Q7: I have a cold. Can I breastfeed?

A7: Not only can you breastfeed when you’re sick, but you’re encouraged to do so. Your breast milk has properties that can help build your baby’s immune system. Plus, if you have a cold, chances are your baby has already been exposed to the symptoms.

While your breast milk isn’t likely to pass on illnesses, don’t be so sure about your hands. Wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask if you’re coughing.

Q8: Does breast size affect breastfeeding?

A8: A lot of moms assume that larger breasts mean more milk, but this just isn’t true. The size of your breasts hasn’t been shown to play a role in how much milk you produce. The only thing breast size might affect is how you position your baby during feedings.

Q9: I have breast implants/had a breast reduction. Will this make it hard to breastfeed?

A9: Many moms breastfeed after breast surgery – but make sure your doctor knows your full health history. If you have implants, you may feel pressure for the first week after delivery. This is the combined result of implants and breast engorgement, but it’s usually temporary.

Q10: Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?

A10: Yes! It’s a common misconception that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, but your menstrual and ovulation cycles can start at any time after your baby is born.

Q11: Is it true that one breast will produce more milk than the other?

A11: This one is up for debate, though many women do report having one breast with more milk than the other. This can be due to milk production and supply or even which breast mom or baby prefers.

Like this article? Want to see more like it? Get a free copy of Atrium Health’s “Your Guide to Pregnancy & Motherhood”!