The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Breastfeeding: Your top 5 questions answered

Breastfeeding: Your top 5 questions answered

WellSpan and its care teams are working to provide babies with a healthy start by sharing the importance of human milk via breastfeeding and/or pumping and bottle feeding.

Several WellSpan hospitals have achieved top state benchmarks to support women in the early days of their breastfeeding journey.

"While breastfeeding is considered natural, it rarely comes naturally," said Michele Chronister, CRNP and WellSpan lactation consultant. "Women have to work hard to breastfeed a baby and that often comes with feelings of anxiety, frustration, and confusion."

Chronister, a certified lactation consultant answers the parents' top breastfeeding questions.

1. How will I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?

Answer: It can be confusing to not be able to see how much milk your baby is getting at the breast. However, it is important to look at the big picture. Is the baby gaining weight? Are they having good wet and stool diapers?

Do they appear satisfied after feeding?  Do your breasts feel some relief after the feeding? If in doubt, a feeding assessment with a lactation consultant can help provide a clear picture. Breastfeeding should not be painful.

2. How often should I be feeding my baby, and do I have to wake them up to feed them?

Answer: Most infants in the first month will breastfeed anywhere from eight to 12 times a day. They begin sleeping longer stretches once they reach their birth weight, around two weeks, but still, eat anywhere from every two to four hours. You should wake your baby after three hours in the first two weeks until they are back to their birth weight. It is important to breastfeed or at least pump to maintain a good milk supply. It is a supply-and-demand process.

3. What are the health benefits of breastfeeding?

Answer: Benefits of breastfeeding to babies include:

  • 50 percent reduction in risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Protection from illnesses from breast milk antibodies.
  • Decreased risk of asthma and allergies.
  • Decreased childhood risk of weight or obesity problems.

Benefits of breastfeeding to moms include:

  • Decreased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Faster return to pre-pregnancy weight.
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis.
  • Decreased lifetime risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

4. How long am I supposed to breastfeed my baby and when do I start feeding my baby solid foods?

Answer: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed its breastfeeding recommendations, suggesting women should breastfeed their babies for two years if it is mutually desired by mother and baby.

This is an update to previous recommendations that mothers should breastfeed or provide breastmilk via a bottle for one year.

The AAP also suggests starting complementary foods around 6 months of age while continuing to breastfeed.

WellSpan consultants are here to help you achieve your personal goals. Any amount of breastmilk is beneficial, and we understand that women face many obstacles in maintaining a good milk supply, especially when returning to work. Families need continued support to decrease disparities among breastfeeding women.

5. This is overwhelming, where can I get help?

Answer: Each family has its own journey, and we are here to walk alongside you. Your goal is our goal. We also help adoptive parents, same-sex couples, and transgender parents with their breast/chest journey, including induced lactation.

WellSpan offers prenatal and postpartum lactation visits to evaluate how a baby is breastfeeding and thriving. Mothers can also take advantage of the many support groups for new moms across our system. Learn more by visiting our Breastfeeding Services page.