Breastfeeding Basics


Every full-term healthy newborn has a built-in 2-3 day food supply. Colostrum, the lemony yellow first milk, contains your immunity which protects the baby from many infections during the first six weeks of life. Colostrum may be considered the baby's first immunization.

In your breast at birth are the ducts of the milk glands. The large volume of breast milk will usually "come in" on post-partum day 3 or 4. Its production depends on the frequent suckling of the baby or your hormonal responses.


Every baby is different! Some come as "barracudas" and eat like a veteran from the start. The "connoisseurs" take two to three sucks, stop a while, and continually repeat this process. Anything in between is possible.


When you feed your baby you will become very thirsty. Drink 8 ounces of clear liquid every time you nurse. This will also prevent constipation.


The baby should not suck only on your nipple, but on the dark portion behind the nipple (the areola). The nurse can show you how to do this and the correct positions to use when feeding the baby. A comfortable chair with arms and a pillow on which the baby can lay is best.


Your baby empties the breast in 6-8 minutes. The highest fat content is in the last portion of the feeding. Try feeding the baby 10 minutes on one side and then nurse for 10-15 minutes on the other side. Burp the baby each time you alternate sides.


Until your milk comes in, feed every 3 hours or more frequently if the baby is fussy. Once the milk supply is in, you can feed every 2-4 hours.

You require about 2 hours to develop an adequate milk supply. After 4 hours, gently wake the baby during the day and feed. This may prevent the baby from turning the day into night.


When your milk comes in, you may find you have more milk than the baby needs. This is a good time to pump your breasts and store breast milk in the freezer. Discuss this with the physician or nurse. At 2-4 weeks, the baby will feed more frequently for a few days. This may also occur at 6-8 weeks and 6 months.


If your baby wets 6-8 diapers a day, you know he or she is getting enough milk. If you are using disposable diapers, put a fresh diaper in one hand and the used diaper in the other to compare the weights, because wetness is difficult to measure.

Baby needs night feedings. Easily digested breast milk passes quickly through the digestive system. This is why breast-fed babies wake at night.


How often? The baby needs to nurse 10-14 times in 24 hours. The more you nurse, the more milk you will have. It takes approximately two hours to replenish the breast after feeding.


Watch your baby, not the clock! Change sides when the breast is empty (6-10 minutes). Alternate the starting breast with each feeding.


Enough milk? After the milk comes in... 6-8 wet diapers and 3-5 bowel movements per day means the baby is getting enough breast milk. With disposable diapers, compare new to used to measure wetness.


Milk too weak? Never! Milk changes throughout the feeding. Express one drop of milk before and after a feeding and see the difference. Foremilk is watery to satisfy thirst. Hindmilk is creamy to satisfy hunger. Frequent breast-feeding stimulates milk production. It is not true that resting the breasts results in more milk.


Engorgement: Nurse often. Avoid feeding against gravity. This may slow the flow causing retained milk. Consider pumping the breast and storing the milk in the freezer. Soften breast by expressing some milk.


Sore nipples: REMEMBER: Correct positioning is most important for preventing sore nipples. Use your finger to break the suction before taking the baby off of the breast. Give shorter more frequent feedings. Offer the least sore breast first. Avoid plastic against the nipples. Use only water for washing. Expose the nipples to sun and air as much as possible. Keep nipples as dry as possible.


Blocked duct: If a milk duct becomes blocked a tender lump may appear in the breast. Apply heat. Get plenty of rest. Nurse frequently. Check positioning. Watch carefully for fever. A fever strongly suggests a breast infection, not a blocked milk duct. Call the office for temperature greater than 100 degrees.


Growth spurts: The baby may nurse more often at times to build up the milk supply. "Frequency days" often occur around three weeks of age. Consider use of freezer stored breast milk to supplement the baby during the growth spurts.


Older baby, softer breast: When the milk supply is established, breasts get softer naturally.


Back to work: Find out about facilities at work for expressing and storing breast milk. Start working only when the milk supply is well-established. Feed as often as possible when at home.


Breast Milk Only

  • Express and store milk at work in a refrigerator.

  • Take milk home for the next day's feeds.

  • Frequent breast-feeding when at home.

Breast and Bottle

  • Express milk to feel comfortable and to stimulate lactation while at work.

  • Use breast milk substitutes when at work.

  • Breast-feed when at home.

  • Bottle feeding can give you "a break" and encourage paternal bonding.

Please see attached file for additional breastfeeding-benefits.