Breastfeeding: your questions answered
For World Breastfeeding Week 2018, we asked lactation consultant Sandy Jackson (above, middle) some frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.
How can breast milk help my baby stay healthy?
Having breast milk alone up to the age of around six months will help protect your baby against illness and infections. Breast milk will carry on protecting them for as long as you carry on feeding.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby should wake for feeds and have at least eight feeds in 24 hours in the early weeks. You should not have sore breasts and nipples, and your baby will be happy and satisfied after the feed.
Your baby will have regular wet nappies, with their stools (poo) changing in colour from black meconium, to green, to brown and then finally yellow. Your baby should be gaining weight after the first 2 weeks.
Will breastfeeding cause my breasts to sag?
Your breasts may or may not return to their size before the pregnancy - everyone if different. It can depend on weight gain during pregnancy, how many babies you have had and genetics.
Does my baby still need breastmilk if they're eating solid food?
Breast milk will continue to give your baby protection against illness and infection while they are having solids.
How can I help my baby latch properly?
- Ensure that you are sat comfortably, and have your baby turned towards you with their head and body in a straight line.
- Hold your baby close to you at the shoulders so that the head can tilt back.
- Line up your nipple opposite your baby’s nose - this allows your baby to be able to attach well to the breast.
- The baby’s chin should be touching your breast with their nose free.
- Your baby will then suck and swallow with some pauses. The feed should feel comfortable.
- Visit your local breastfeeding support group for help.
Can I breastfeed if I've had breast surgery?
It depends on the type of surgery and what breast tissue and nerves were involved. On some occasions, you may need to supplement your baby’s feeds with formula milk. But it is really important to remember that every day that your baby receives breast milk counts.
Can my baby be allergic to my breast milk?
Babies are not allergic to breast milk but may show signs of being allergic to something that you eaten. It's advisable to consult your midwife, health visitor or GP for guidance.
If I have a cold, can I pass this on to my baby by breastfeeding?
It is important to ensure good hand hygiene if you are unwell and keep hydrated. The protective antibodies in your breast milk help to develop your baby’s immune system and fight off infections and illness so that you are able to continue breastfeeding.
Where can I get support if I'm finding breastfeeding difficult?
Locally there is Breastfeeding Babes based at the Princess Anne Hospital, which is accessible until 14 days after your baby's birth. Your midwife and health visitor can advise, and there are lots of local groups that open once a week. Information about the groups is available here.
There are many other organisations available to help support breastfeeding, including National Childbirth Trust, La Leche League, the Breastfeeding Network and Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.