Everywhere you look—online, in baby books, or to parents and families, everyone has opinions, expectations, and tips on breastfeeding. With all this information floating around, it can be difficult to decide or feel comfortable with feeding your baby. It is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different - you can make your own informed decisions for your baby. Whatever you are able to do in your unique situation is what’s best for your child.
New parents often find themselves asking:
- What are the benefits to breastfeeding?
- Breastfeeding can help protect a child from several different disease and conditions, such as diarrhea, childhood obesity, and respiratory tract infections, to name a few. There are also benefits to mom’s health. Learn more here.
- What are the benefits to pumping?
- Some moms have challenges nursing, but they are able to pump milk. Babies will still receive the health and nutritional benefits of breast milk even when only drinking breast milk from a bottle. Learn more here.
- When do moms formula feed?
- Formula is the best alternative to breast milk and reduces some barriers, including challenges pumping at work, and restrictions on who can feed the baby. Learn more here.
- How long should my child be breastfed?
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents breastfeed their child exclusively for 6 months (without other food or drink), but continue breastfeed along with the introduction of solid foods for at least 12 months. Learn more here.
- What should I do if I can’t breastfeed?
- Breastfeeding is not possible for all parents. Formula is a safe alternative to breast milk. Learn more here.
- Breastfeeding is hard! What should I do if I’m having trouble?
- There are a variety of reasons why you may have trouble breastfeeding, such as having a fussy baby or low milk supply, but breastfeeding can be possible with the right support. Learn more here.
- A lactation consultant is a skilled healthcare professional who may be able to help you if you’re having trouble. Learn more and find a consultant here.
- What is safe to eat and drink while I breastfeed?
- Most foods, drinks, and medications are safe to have while breastfeeding. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol should be consumed in moderation, but some babies may be sensitive to caffeine or alcohol. Learn more here.
- How do I know I am breastfeeding correctly?
- You can check to make sure your baby is breastfeeding correctly by looking to see if the baby’s mouth is open wide and contains much of the areola, if the baby is just suckling the nipple, the baby may not be getting enough milk. You can also listen to see if you hear your baby swallowing regularly. Learn more here.
- When should I introduce other foods?
- Most babies will be ready for solid foods around 6 months of age. Learn more here.
Having a new baby can be tough, even for the most experienced parents. During this time, it’s important to have a system of support that can be anyone from partners, family, friends or medical teams. Some parents use the online community to find their system of support. Here are some websites with community forums, groups, and help hotlines that you can use to talk to other parents who may help you on your journey with your child:
- La Leche League
- International Lactation Consultant Association
- Toll-Free Numbers for WIC State Agencies
Just like most areas of early parenting, feeding your baby can be a difficult task! Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Sometimes that means friends, family, and your medical team, or maybe even a lactation consultant, if you need support or guidance. No matter what your decision is, you should take the time to get helpful information so you can make the best decision for you and your child in your specific circumstances. Every situation is different!