Breastfeeding can be a hard, isolating, and emotional journey, which is why it's so important to have support. That's why Romper launched a Facebook breastfeeding community, Breastfeeding TBH — to help make feeding another human being with your own body a little easier. Every day readers ask questions because, let's face it, breastfeeding is complicated, and each week in Rack Facts, Romper speaks with a lactation consultant to answer as many of those questions as possible. After all, everyone can use a little expert help, especially when it comes to feeding your kid.
"Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world," society says. Sure. Unless you're traveling. Or sick as a dog. Or using a nipple shield to get your baby to latch. Then breastfeeding becomes infinitely more complicated. You know it's worth it for your baby, but if I hear one more person tell me that breastfeeding is way easier than bottle feeding, I might just snap.
Both have their pros and cons, but because the nourishment you're giving your baby is coming from your actual body, it's a little harder to treat it with nonchalance and convince yourself that everything will be OK. When you're not feeling well, when your diet is affecting your baby, and when your allergic reaction makes you worried for your little one, breastfeeding becomes hard.
But that's why the experts are there. I talked to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Nadine Fournier of KW Breastfeeding to get her advice and expertise so you can make breastfeeding feel as natural as possible, no matter what your circumstances are.
1. Frozen Milk Spoiling
I recently went back to work, and on Monday I was planning to take frozen milk out so that I can rotate what I have stored up. I noticed that my frozen milk from a couple of months ago is spoiled already, but I have given her frozen milk before that was frozen for a couple of weeks and fine. Any insight on how long you are able to freeze it before it goes bad?
Fournier says breastmilk can be frozen up to six months in the separate freezer compartment of a refrigerator or up to one year in a deep freezer. If you know that your milk is going to be frozen, she suggests freezing it as soon as possible in a storage container or bag made specifically for storing breastmilk and store milk in the back of the freezer rather than the door, making sure that your freezer is set to the correct temperature. "Unless the milk has a distinctive sour milk smell, it is safe to feed to the baby," Fournier says. "If the breast milk continues to smell or taste bad, even with proper storage, it is possible there is excess lipase, which can be treated by scalding the milk prior to freezing."
2. Allergic Reaction While Breastfeeding
If I accidentally eat something I'm allergic to and I'm reacting, should I still breastfeed or wait until it's out of my system?
Fournier says that it is safe to breastfeed while having an allergic reaction, but that some allergy medications however can have an effect on your supply. She suggests checking with your pharmacist or contacting a local lactation consultant to find a medication that is compatible with breastfeeding.
3. Will Milk Run Out?
I exclusively pump and have noticed my supply is getting low. Once you run out of milk is it gone for good?
"If you notice a decrease in your supply, it is possible to increase it again," Fournier says. "Change the membranes and tubing on your pump to see if that is affecting your output." She also suggests adding in an extra pump session per day and once a week, pump as much as you can for the whole day (every time you pass your pump, pump for ten to 15 minutes). But Fournier also notes that if your period has returned, your supply can fluctuate due to your menstrual cycle and that it might be beneficial to speak with a lactation consultant about the use of galactogogues.
4. Storing Milk While Away From Baby
My 4 month old daughter is primarily breastfed via pumping. I am going out of town on my first business trip to Montreal for three days in October. I definitely don't want to waste any milk, but are there any recommendations on how to safely store the milk during this extended time?
"I would check with your hotel to see if you can have access to a fridge in your room. If you are away from your room during the day, store the milk in a soft sided cooler with gel packs until you can put it in the fridge," Fournier says. "If you have no access to a fridge or a way to keep the gel packs frozen, then use ice from the hotel to pack around the milk in the cooler. The milk will stay colder if you use balled up newspaper in the empty space in the cooler, too."
5. Older Child Wants Breast Milk
I mostly pump for my 5-week-old daughter and today my almost 5-year-old daughter asked if I would pump her some milk into a glass for her to drink also. Is this normal? I feel slightly awkward about it.
It's absolutely normal for an older child to want to try breast milk when they see their younger sibling drinking it, according to Fournier. She notes that it's totally up to you whether this is something that you want her to try.
6. Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding
With cold season approaching, I was curious what medicines were safe for breastfeeding mamas? I know to avoid anything with Sudafed, but what about things like Mucinex or Tylenol Cold and Allergy?
Fournier recommends contacting the Infant Risk Center or your doctor and/or pharmacist to find cold medications that are safe for breastfeeding.
7. Traveling With Pumped Milk
I've been on vacation for a week now, and have been pumping and storing my milk into my parents' freezer. Home is about three hours away. How can I properly transport my milk and keep it frozen on the way home without spoiling all the milk I've saved?
"Your milk can be transported home in a cooler with frozen gel packs and you can also use balled up newspaper to fill in empty spaces in the cooler," Fournier says. "If you are flying, you may need to check the breast milk with your luggage, but it depends on the TSA regulations."
8. Thick Yellow Poop In Breastfed Baby
My son is 1 month old and breastfed only. He been constipated for a couple of days so I helped him poop. But when it came out it was yellow and thick, like paste. Should I be worried?
"If your baby is under six weeks old and not having at least one to two stools a day, check in with your physician. After six weeks old, it is more common for babies to have less frequent stools, but if your baby seems gassy or constipated (uncomfortable), then check in with your physician," Fournier says.
9. Baby Spits Up With Pumped Milk Only
I am a new mom and my baby is currently 14 days old. When he breastfeeds, he’s fine, but when I feed him pumped milk from the refrigerator and warmed, he constantly spits up and gets hiccups. Is this normal on such a new baby or is there something I’m doing wrong?
"It sounds like your baby may be taking in more air with the bottle," Fournier says. "Using paced feedings (use a slow flow nipple, keep the bottle parallel to the floor, and tilt it just enough so there is milk in the nipple), and stopping frequently for burping will likely help." Fournier also says to watch your baby's signs, as it is easy to overfeed your little one by encouraging the baby to finish the bottle when they are slowing and showing signs of being full.
10. Green Poop In Breastfed Baby
My baby is exclusively breastfed, but I pump at work and give it to my husband to feed our son while I'm at work. When I come home and feed him, my boobs don't feel very full, but I obviously feed him anyways. Then later that night, he usually has a light green poop, not the usual mustard yellow and orange color. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?
It's very normal for babies to have all different colors of stool according to Fournier. "As long as your baby is content and growing well, I would not worry about the green stool," she says.
11. Increasing Supply In One Breast
My one breast produces way less milk than the other. I pump and get double the amount from one than I do from the other. Is there anyway to increase my milk supply in the one breast? I try to nurse on it more often but it's not making any difference.
Fournier notes that it is very common to have one breast that produces less milk than the other. "You can try starting more frequently on that breast (rather than alternating every feed), and adding an extra pump session for just that breast," she says. "Massage prior to and during pumping (try a hands free bra) and hand express after pumping to help increase your overall volumes. As long as your total volumes are enough to feed the baby, I wouldn't worry about the volume discrepancy in each breast."
12. Breastfeeding Diet For Gassy Baby
My daughter is 4 weeks old and I'm exclusively breastfeeding, but lately she is so gassy and even constipated at times. I spoke with the pediatrician and she said everything was OK, just that her digestive tract is not strong enough to push too hard. They think it's something I'm eating that causes it. I can't figure it out. I guess my question is what are the best foods to eat when you’re breastfeeding and what are the worst?
"If you and your doctor are concerned that it is from your diet, I would suggest finding a registered dietitian with experience in elimination diets," Fournier says. "The dietitian can create a custom plan that will help you pinpoint what foods may be causing the issues. Some parents also find that giving the baby a probiotic (such as Biogaia) can help with digestive issues." She also notes that if your baby happens to be on vitamin D drops, switching to a brand without artificial sweeteners may help.
13. Teething, Stuffy Baby Doesn't Want To Nurse
My soon to be 7-month-old has been a great nurser up until the last two days. He's cut three teeth as of recently and number four isn't far behind. He also bit once over a week ago and has nursed since then. Now when I try to nurse him, he throws a fit and will have nothing of it. He has a slight stuffy nose too, but he drinks a bottle down very quickly. Any tips or ideas?
"Your baby will most likely go back to nursing regularly following this teething and stuffiness episode," Fournier says. "It's important to pump to maintain your supply if he is not regularly going to the breast though. Daily skin to skin will help to get your baby back to the breast, but continue to offer the breast regularly without forcing it."
14. Pumping Before Baby Is Born
My doctor is inducing me soon. With my first born I wasn’t able to produce milk so I was never able to breastfeed. I want to make sure I can this time, so is it OK to pump and get a head start before she is born?
"It is safe to harvest colostrum during late pregnancy as long as your pregnancy has not been deemed high risk," Fournier says. She suggests hand expression and/or pumping for 15 minutes and collecting the milk in a small container or syringe. Freeze the milk to use after delivery of the baby. "Collecting the milk during pregnancy is a great way to have extra colostrum once the baby is born, however it will not increase your overall milk volumes," Fournier says. "I would suggest seeing an IBCLC as soon as possible to help problem solve your milk production issues."
15. Supply Decreasing While Sick
Both me and my baby are sick and the last two days my milk supply has significantly decreased to the point where I feel I might have to supplement. Is this normal? What can I do to quickly increase my supply? I really don't want to have to supplement.
"If both you and your baby are sick, the decreased supply may be due to both your baby having a decreased appetite (feeding less frequently or smaller volumes), and dehydration on your end," Fournier says. "Try to keep yourself hydrated and eat healthy meals. Offer the breast frequently, but you may also need to pump to maintain your supply until you both feel better."
16. Weaning Off Of A Breast Shield
My baby is 10 weeks old. I had to start using a nipple shield when she was a week old due to her being lip tied and me being inverted on one side. Her lip tie was fixed at two weeks and my lactation consultant told me to try everyday to get her to latch without it. She will not and I try a few times a day. When she does, it’s only for a few minutes until she gets my first let down. After that, she can't latch. Any ideas to help me stop using the shield?
"Try latching with the shield until after your let down slows and then removing the shield and quickly re-latching," Fournier says. "Leaning back while you feed will also help baby manage the flow and achieve a deeper latch."
17. Baby Waking Early, But Crying While Nursing
I am having a major problem with my son. He is 3 months old and just started some crazy routine. He wakes up at 4 a.m. every day and normally I can walk downstairs with him and he'll go right back to sleep after nursing, but this morning he woke up at 4:00 and didn't stop crying until after 6. He would latch and nurse for a couple of seconds, but then he would pop off and start whining again. I burp him, change him, swaddle him, and still he cries. I would love some advice on what to try.
"It sounds like this is less about feeding and more a developmental stage your baby is going through," Fournier says. "Unfortunately, babies cannot tell us what is wrong. Try stepping out with baby outside for some fresh air or wearing the baby and going for a little walk through the house when he gets inconsolable."