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.
Whether you've breastfed three babies, stayed up all night pumping for twins, or are just now getting the hang of nursing one infant, there's one thing everyone can agree on — breastfeeding isn't always perfect. Some days, your baby can't get enough of your milk and other days, all they want is to ignore you and fuss at the breast. Pediatricians and lactation consultants talk about how it's such a natural thing to do, and it is, but it's also something that requires a lot of patience and even more support.
Carol Chamblin, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and member of Medela's Clinical Education team agrees and believes in arming yourself with board-certified lactation consultants and healthcare providers that will help you succeed in your breastfeeding journey. With more than 20 years of experience, Chamblin knows her stuff and so does Medela. You can find more information about breastfeeding and pumping breast milk from Medela and their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
1. Giving Breast Milk To Toddler
I have an 11 month old who was born prematurely. I had planned to exclusively breastfeed for a year, but I ended up pregnant at six weeks postpartum. Baby number two has since been born and is exclusively breastfed. Is it beneficial to give my oldest son breast milk that I’ve pumped? He won’t latch on, but he will drink breast milk with no problem.
Of course you can. According to Chamblin, your body and breast milk are equipped to do exactly what you’re doing: tandem breastfeeding. "If you supply enough to meet the needs of your newborn and your soon-to-be toddler (meaning the toddler is satisfied and continues to grow), then go for it," she says. "You can always reach out to a board-certified lactation consultant if you have questions about balancing the needs of both children."
2. Baby Refuses Bottle
My 11 week old has been exclusively breastfed since birth. We started introducing the bottle (of my pumped breast milk) to her at 6 weeks old and she refuses it every time. Any advice on getting her to take a bottle? My husband is usually the one with the bottle, with me either across the house, in the same room, and out of the house. I have also tried giving her the bottle as well. We have tried all different positions, warming the nipple, rubbing the nipple on me first, and dipping the nipple in breast milk. I am running out of ideas.
This can be really frustrating, but you just have to keep trying and have a lot of patience. Chamblin notes that offering a bottle for the first time when your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and continuing to offer the bottle every three to five days can avoid refusal later, but it’s not too late now. "Choosing a bottle with a slow flow nipple may help your baby to adjust easier; milk flow from any bottle is different than milk flow from your breast," she says.
Chamblin also suggests that you avoid giving the bottle when your baby is hungry. "Breastfeed until your baby is less hungry, and then offer the bottle. She will have more patience to learn how to take the bottle when she’s more relaxed," she says. "Have the bottle ready and within reach so that when you remove your baby from your breast, you can reach for it without moving your baby to a new position; less movement may help your baby to remain calm."
If your baby refuses to accept the bottle nipple in her mouth, don’t force it. According to Chamblin, you should allow your baby to take your breast again until she calms, and then try feeding her with the bottle. "Don’t sit her up or turn her around to give the bottle, leave her in the same position as your breast," Chamblin says. "You can offer the bottle yourself, or your husband can try it. Your baby may take only a few sucks at first, but will improve with practice." Chamblin also suggests trying Medela’s Calma bottle because it features a nipple that was designed to release breast milk in the same way that a breast does when an infant is nursing.
3. Diet Affects Milk Supply
I'm currently 38 weeks pregnant and have a terrible addiction to sugar. I want to cut out about 70 percent of my sugar intake after I deliver since I know that doing so while pregnant could harm the baby since it'd be such a dramatic change to my diet. My question is, could the change in diet affect my milk supply? I would like to exclusively breastfeed.
Kudos for trying to improve your diet, mama. According to Chamblin, a healthy diet for your milk supply means eating at least 2500 calories a day. "What you eat doesn’t go straight into your breast milk and to your baby; your diet is important so you stay healthy," she says. "Choose healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, and drink at least six to eight glasses (8 ounces) of water," she says. Chamblin also suggests talking to your healthcare provider for more suggestions.
4. Looking For Quiet Pumps
Are the Nuk Simply Natural Freemie Collection Cups really discreet? As in, do they make any noise? The description says you can stick these in, connect to a pump, and use around anyone, but I doubt that it isn't noisy. I have an Ameda Truly Yours Pump and use it because it was given to me through insurance. I like it, but I am looking into something more simple and more quiet. What about Medela breast pumps? Anything similar but cheaper?
Because Chamblin works for Medela, she can only comment on those products. But her advice above all else is to talk to your health insurance company to figure out which breast pumps are covered. "Knowing this will help you make a more informed decision about what you can really afford with your budget," she says. "I will say that all of Medela’s breast pumps are designed, tested, and continuously improved upon with the sole goal of supporting a new mom’s breast milk supply so she can reach her breastfeeding goals."
5. Blow Out Diapers After Breast Milk
My 1 month old had six ounces of breast milk yesterday and ever since, he has been acting as if he’s not feeling well. His diaper was even a runny blow out. What would cause this?
Chamblin suggests that you call your pediatrician. "If your son seems unwell after nursing, call his pediatrician and consult a board-certified lactation consultant," she suggests. Healthcare providers are best equipped to help you and your son."
6. Baby Fights Nursing
I have an almost 9 month old who has two teeth coming in and has learned to sit up all in two weeks. Now that she's done that, mobile nursing and nap times are a nightmare. She has to be asleep to nurse at all. It’s like an MMA match to get her to nurse while awake. I don't know if she's developed an aversion to the breast, but she does fine during the night and after I've wrestled her to sleep. I’m almost ready to just quit, but she hates formula.
Major props for breastfeeding for almost nine months, because that's no small feat. Chamblin says that it's normal that your baby may seem like she doesn't want your breast any longer; she's experiencing a lot of changes right now. "Offer her your breast before feeding her solids. You may need to feed her less solids, but you should discuss this with your baby’s doctor," Chamblin says. "As she explores her new world with teeth and sitting up, she may be self-weaning. However, self-weaning takes many months. With persistence and patience, continue offering your breast, but don’t force her to take it. Once she’s settled into her new routines, she’ll come back to the breast like usual."
7. Baby's Stomach Gurgling As He Nurses
I've been trying to figure out what's making my son’s stomach upset. I've cut out spicy foods and all juices, what else can I try? I can hear my poor babies stomach gurgling while I feed him.
"Spicy foods do not cause gassiness for your baby" Chamblin says. "If your son seems to be having stomach problems, call his pediatrician and consult a board-certified lactation consultant. Healthcare providers are best equipped to help you and your son."
8. How To Thaw Breast Milk
So I'm really confused. I hear so many different stories of how to thaw breast milk or warm it to room temperature from the fridge. What is the right way to bring breast milk from the fridge or freezer to room temperature?
Make sure any guidelines you're following come from a source that relies on research. "There are three safe ways to unfreeze breast milk: thaw milk overnight in the refrigerator, hold the bottle under warm running water, or place the sealed container of milk in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to body temperature," Chamblin says.
9. Lactose Overload
Lactose overload when breastfeeding — how do you correct this? I've read it occurs when you have a heavy let-down. Baby is eating a lot, and it causes green runny stool and lots of gas for baby.
"When mothers rather than babies control the time spent at breast, a higher than normal lactose load is possible," Chamblin says. "It’s extremely rare since lactose is the carbohydrate in breast milk. Your baby may be extra fussy, gassy, and have bright green, slimy stools. Let your baby feed on the first breast before moving to the second side and this will balance the lactose level."
10. Doctor Cites Supply As Reason For Low Weight
My little one had her 4 month well check yesterday and until then, I thought we were doing great with breastfeeding. She acts satisfied after she eats and knows when she doesn't want to eat. But she is in the one percentile for weight and the doctor says it could be my supply. I'm starting to do everything I've read about to increase supply in case that is the reason. I was wondering if there were any other moms who had similar experiences with low weight and did it turn out that the supply was the issue or maybe I need to try to get her eat more often/longer?
"I commend you for persisting and staying committed to breastfeeding. I recommend reaching out to a board-certified lactation consultant to develop a feeding/pumping plan," Chamblin says. "Based on your baby’s weight, you may need to feed your baby more and start to pump to stimulate your supply until your baby gains more weight. Your baby should continue to breastfeed while you work towards increasing your supply." Don't fret too much, Chamblin says it's not too late and as you continue nursing and pumping, work with your pediatrician to establish a better weight gain.
11. Lip Tie & Breastfeeding
I have a 3 month old with a lip tie that has struggled with breastfeeding from the start. I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with a baby with a lip tie and if it is worth having a procedure done to fix it.
"Lip tie can be a reason for ongoing latching struggles, but it’s only one; there are many other causes besides lip tie," Chamblin says. "I recommend calling your baby’s pediatrician and consult with a board-certified lactation consultant."
12. Traveling & Breastfeeding
I will be traveling out of the country for eight days on vacation and my kids will not be joining us. I have pumped enough milk for my daughter for the duration of our trip. Will it be difficult to continue breastfeeding after a trip like that? Also I know I will have to pump while I travel, but is there a chance I can save this milk or will I have to dump it?
Sounds like you're a planner, which is a good thing. "You may notice your milk supply begin to diminish, but resuming breastfeeding upon your return will help your supply come back," Chamblin says. "Maintain your supply while traveling by taking regular breaks to express your milk — pump approximately the same number of times your baby typically breastfeeds. Separation of a week or less usually poses no major problems."
Chamblin also notes that memorizing the breast milk storage guidelines can come in handy while traveling. "You can save the milk you pump, but it does require a willingness to ask for help and consistent access to refrigerators and freezers, as well as ice packs and coolers," she says. "It is imperative that you refrigerate or freeze your breast milk as quickly as possible after pumping."
Chamblin says that milk at room temperature is good for four to six hours, 24 hours in a cooler with three ice packs, three to eight days in a refrigerator, three to six months in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator, and six to twelve months in a deep upright freezer. Once your breast milk is thawed, it's only good for 24 hours and shouldn't be frozen again.
13. Breastfeeding After 12 Months
So my baby boy is almost 9 months old and he is exclusively breastfed. Since day one, we’ve had no issues. I understand that babies start drinking cow milk at 12 months, so I'm debating on if I should continue to breastfeed afterwards. I'm really considering it since there are so many benefits from breastfeeding. Also, how often would he be drinking breast milk daily along with everything else he will be eating and drinking?
"Extended breastfeeding is absolutely fine and it has many benefits, including providing nutrients and protection against many illnesses that your toddler may not get from solid foods," Chamblin says. "Your decision to introduce cow’s milk is entirely your own. Your baby will let you know how often he needs to nurse and the frequency might fluctuate depending how he responds to the introduction of solids."
14. Baby Not Taking In Nipple All The Way
My baby has done amazing with breastfeeding. However, the last day or so she isn't taking my nipple all the way. The bottom of it is crimped and the top isn't, so she isn't getting it all the way. I've tried opening her mouth more and repositioning to the football hold, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Any other tips or tricks?
"Your description of your nipple shape being distorted by your baby’s latch usually indicates a latching problem. See a health care provider or board-certified lactation consultant to work on your latch and support you with your breastfeeding goals," Chamblin says.
15. Doctor Suggests Formula & Rice Cereal
I had my second baby boy a month ago. He latched fine from the beginning and we've been breastfeeding well for the past two weeks, but I took him to the doctor yesterday and he said that he wasn't gaining the amount of weight he should be. He told me to pump only and feed my son formula with rice cereal in it for this week. If he still hasn't gained any weight when we go back next week, our doctor says he's going to put him in the hospital to monitor feeding and weight gain. I don't want to stop breastfeeding my baby. What can I do?
Chamblin says she can't provide advice about your specific situation, but she does recommend seeing a board-certified lactation consultant as it's not recommended to mix rice cereal with formula or breast milk.
16. Pumping & Latching Problems
My son is now 1 month old. I've had the hardest time trying to latch him on due to the fact that I have inverted nipples. I've tried a nipple shield, but it didn’t quite do the job so I am currently pumping and doing formula. I would love to continue to feed him breast milk, however, I'm only pumping about 1 to 2 ounces. What can I do?
That level of commitment is great, mama. It takes a lot of work. "Any amount of breast milk provides your baby with health benefits, but I would highly recommend seeing a board-certified lactation consultant to establish a pumping strategy for increasing your milk expression," Chamblin says. "It is not too late to try to increase your supply at one month. A lactation consultant can help you to latch your baby with or without the nipple shield. Every situation is different with inverted nipples, but feeding your baby at breast is still a possibility."
17. Hindmilk & Foremilk
Is there anything I can do to correct a foremilk and hindmilk imbalance? I exclusively breastfeed and my son is 2 months old. He eats almost every hour and still seems starved. He's filling up on foremilk and it goes right through him. I don’t time his feedings, I let him eat from both sides until he’s done and his doctor says he’s gaining weight normally and growing like a weed. But it would be nice to not have to feed him every 45 minutes.
"Many moms worry about not making enough hindmilk. You are doing the right thing by not timing his feedings," Chamblin says. "As your baby breastfeeds, he gets foremilk at the beginning of his feeding time and gradually, your milk changes to hindmilk while he continues to suckle. It is a natural process." But Chamblin notes that you could have an oversupply as a possibility for your baby to get less hindmilk. "It may be helpful to offer him only one side each time he breastfeeds. I’d recommend seeing a health care provider or board-certified lactation consultant to discuss an appropriate feeding routine and call your pediatrician to make sure there’s not another reason for his apparent need to feed so often," she says.