There are two reasons why breastfeeding is important for the mother as well as for the child. One is the nutritional aspect while the other is the psychological aspect. While the nutritional aspect is no doubt very important, the psychological bonding which develops between the child and the mother is unparalleled and does not have any alternative. Click here for important resources from the Capitol Area Breastfeeding Coalition

Sparrow Lactation Support Services is committed to helping you get off to a good start with breast feeding. Certified lactation consultants and lactation educators are available in the Mother/Baby Center. Please refer to the following Frequently Asked Questions or call if you have further questions (517.364.2652).

Click here to read our handout on preventing and managing breast engorgement.

Click here to read our handout on breastmilk collection and storage. 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Breastfeeding

What could I do prenatally to prepare for breastfeeding?

Attend a breastfeeding class to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding for yourself and your baby. There are excellent books available to have as a resource as well. Ask your OB physician to examine your breasts and nipples. If you have inverted nipples the physician may recommend the use of breast shells toward the end of your pregnancy.

Should I do something to "toughen" my nipples before the baby is born?

Your breasts need no special care during your pregnancy except to wear a supportive bra. It is best not to use soap on your nipples because it can make them too dry. There has not been any proof that rubbing your nipples with a rough towel or other methods to "toughen" your nipples helps in preventing soreness after you begin to breastfeed.

How soon after the delivery should I try to breastfeed?

It is best to put your baby to breast right after the birth. The suck reflex is very strong and most babies are in an alert state for about 2 hours only and then go into a deep sleep. If your baby breastfeeds during this alert time it helps to imprint the breastfeeding so when the baby wakes up from the sleep phase he/she will remember how to latch on and breastfeed.

When will my milk "come in"?

About half way through the pregnancy your body will begin to produce colostrum, the "first milk". The delivery of the baby and placenta signals your body to start the next phase and increase the volume of milk and gradually change it into mature breastmilk. For many women the 3rd or 4th day after the baby's birth is when you experience breast fullness or when the milk "comes in".

I've heard that it is very painful when the milk comes in. What can I do to lessen the discomfort?

The term for this is engorgement. The breast is filling with milk and there is some swelling in the breast tissue. Generally engorgement only lasts between 24-48 hours and then the breast is soft between feedings.

Here are some reminders about engorgement and tips to help relieve the pain:

  • Most importantly, feed your baby frequently. This will lessen the chance that your breasts will become uncomfortably over full. Any long gaps between feeds, as your milk comes in, can result in painful engorgement.

  • Your breasts will soften again in a day or so.

  • Taking Motrin or Advil (with food) and applying ice (a bag of frozen peas works) for 20 minutes after feeds will help if your breasts are very uncomfortable.

  • If latching becomes more difficult due to the firmness of your areolas – try Reverse Pressure Softening (RPS). Place thumb and finger opposite each other just inside the margin of the areola and press in, as if to touch your ribs, and hold for a minute or two. This will soften your areola making latch easier for your baby.

  • If your breasts are too firm to do RPS then hand express or pump a little milk off and then try RPS again before attempting to latch.

  • Click here to read our handout on preventing and managing breast engorgement.

    How often should my baby breastfeed?

    Most babies will breastfeed between 8 and 12 times in 24 hours. If you watch your baby he will give you signals to let you know it's time. Babies will make mouthing motions like licking his lips or bringing his hand up to his mouth, these are called feeding cues. Breastfeeding flourishes when it is "baby led", this means the baby tells you when he is hungry and when he is finished. During the daytime it is helpful to offer the breast at least every 2 to 3 hours. In the first few days after birth you may have to gently wake him in the daytime. Expect some feedings to happen very close together, even every hour. These are called cluster feedings and often happen in the evening.

    Is there a way to be certain that my baby is getting enough breastmilk from me?

    It is very reassuring to "see" that your baby is getting enough. Using a feeding diary in the first few days will help. Record each time your baby breastfeeds and the wet and dirty diapers. By the fourth day of life and beyond, when the breastmilk supply has increased, your baby should be breastfeeding between 8-12 times in 24 hours, have 6-10 very wet diapers, and at least 2 dirty diapers. The stool should change to mustard yellow, seedy and loose consistency.

    I want to give my baby the best start I can. How long should I plan to breastfeed?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. This means the baby will get only breastmilk. If the baby is ready, solid foods will begin at 6 months, while breastmilk continues to be the main source of nutrition through at least the first year or longer as you desire.

    I will be returning to work in a few weeks. What should I look for when selecting a breastpump to use at work?

    The best choice is to use a breastpump that allows you to pump both breasts at the same time. It needs to have auto cycle action and an effective amount of negative pressure. This is difficult to determine by simply looking at the package information! Many women will choose to rent an electric pump from a rental station. These are very effective pumps and support the breastmilk supply well. Other women will purchase a pump. If you desire to purchase a pump it is helpful to discuss your specific work situation with a Lactation Consultant to help you determine which pump would be best for you.

    If I need help with breastfeeding, where can I get help? Is there a credential I should look for to be certain the Lactation specialist is qualified?

    In the "Congratulations on Your Baby" packet you received during your pregnancy or after delivery, there is a list of breastfeeding resources that also can be accessed here. This list has information to guide you to the help you need. Breastpump rental stations and Lactation Consultants are listed there. When selecting a Lactation Consultant, look for the credential IBCLC. This indicates that the LC is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has successfully passed the board. You can rest assured that the practice will be research based and current.