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Breastfeeding FAQ's

How often do I breastfeed my baby?

You should put your baby to your breast as quickly as possible after birth and then whenever you see signs of hunger. Signs your baby is hungry include rooting, acting fussy, or even just being alert. An awake baby is usually a hungry baby!

Breastfeeding will go smoothest if you give your baby free access to your breast whenever your baby shows interest. If it’s been three hours since the last feeding and your baby hasn’t woken up to eat, gently wake the baby to attempt a feeding.

If your baby is interested again soon after a feeding, try to feed your baby again even if it has been only a few minutes since the last feeding.

During the first 24 hours, your baby may seem more tired and may not want to feed every time you try. That is usually ok, but you can ask us if you are concerned.

How do I know if my baby is latched well?

A baby should stay on your breast continuously during the feeding. It’s normal for a baby to start and stop sucking while at your breast. Other signs of a good latch are full cheeks and lips spread out around the breast. You should feel a strong pulling or tugging while your baby is sucking.

Usually, dimpled cheeks or a clicking sound mean that your baby is not well latched.

How long should a feeding last?

A good feeding should last about 10 minutes or more with bursts of sucking followed by pauses. Don’t limit the time your baby is at your breast unless you have significant discomfort or pain.

My baby seems constantly hungry—is that normal?

When your baby is a day or two old, it’s common that they seem very hungry and want to feed all the time. This is called cluster feeding. It often happens just before your colostrum (the first milk your body produces for your newborn) changes to higher-volume milk.

The best thing you can do is to continue to offer your breast. The more your baby suckles, the more your baby will receive, even if it feels like there is nothing left.

Cluster feeding can feel frustrating, but try not to worry. Your baby will seem more satisfied after feeds once your higher-volume milk comes in two to four days after birth. If you are concerned about your baby’s feeding, please ask us and we can help.

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?

The early milk called colostrum is available for your baby in a small amount, about a teaspoon per feeding. Your nurse and your baby’s doctor count the number of diapers, track weight loss, take vital signs, and do daily examinations to make sure your baby is healthy.

They will let you know if they are concerned that your baby is not getting enough breast milk.

Can I give my baby a pacifier?

We recommend that you wait about two weeks until breastfeeding is well established to give your baby a pacifier. Research shows that early use of pacifiers can lead to breastfeeding problems.

I don’t have any milk, and my baby seems so hungry. Should I supplement with formula until my milk comes in?

We have formula available that you can request. However, we recommend feeding only from your breast while you are at the hospital.

There are many benefits of breastfeeding, including less sickness for you and your baby over many years. Even a little bit of formula early on can make it harder to breastfeed.

Therefore, we’ll encourage you to feed your baby only from your breast while you are here unless there’s a medical reason to offer formula. Your nurse and baby’s doctor will watch your baby’s feeding pattern, wet and dirty diapers, and weight every day to make sure your baby is nursing well and getting enough to eat.

We’ll provide you with support to help your baby latch. If you have any concerns about how breastfeeding is going or if you decide that you would like formula, please let us know.

Should I feed my baby on both sides?

After your baby is done breastfeeding on one side, if your baby is awake and interested, offer the second side. It’s always best to offer both sides the first few days until more milk comes in. It depends on your baby if they will nurse on both sides.

If you only nurse on one side at a feeding, offer your other breast during the next feeding. If your baby feeds on both sides at a feeding, offer the side you ended with during the previous feeding. This provides enough stimulation for both breasts.

Where can I find help with breastfeeding once I’m home?

  • Call our breastfeeding helpline at 240-566-3880.
  • Come to our breastfeeding support group, which meets every Friday at Frederick Health Hospital in the mother/baby classroom from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Check the breastfeeding education material you received in your admission packet.
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