I just started breastfeeding. How do I know if I’m doing it right?
First, congratulations on making this healthy choice for you and your baby! Second, breastfeeding can be hard. If it’s harder than you thought it would be, you’re not alone. But it does get easier!
Parent 2 Parent
"I really struggled with breastfeeding after my son was born and worried about whether he was getting enough milk. My pediatrician referred me to a lactation consultant who taught me how to make sure my son latched on properly. She also weighed my son before and after feeding so we could see exactly how much milk he was getting. I could drop by any time to weigh him and talk about any feeding issues I was having. She was an incredible resource."
It’s normal for breastfeeding moms to worry, especially about:
- Making enough milk for your baby
- Getting your baby to latch on the right way
- Feeling like all you do is breastfeed
- Having breast or nipple pain
Don’t give up. After nursing or pumping milk for 2 to 4 weeks, you’ll feel more confident - it will get easier!
Getting Started with Breastfeeding
- Set small goals. For example, instead of worrying about how you’ll breastfeed for the next 6 months, promise yourself to breastfeed for at least the next 2 weeks.
- Tell your partner and family that breastfeeding is important to you and your baby. Ask for their support.
- Talk to other moms who’ve breastfed their babies. Ask them what worked for them.
Want more information?
Many insurance plans will pay for you to speak to a breastfeeding expert.
How do I know if my baby is eating enough?
"I just fed my baby 15 minutes ago, and he is crying again. Is he hungry already?"
Crying doesn’t always mean that your baby is hungry. For about the first month, babies usually breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours. As they get older, their bellies are able to hold more and they nurse less often.
Watch your baby for signs that she’s full - like turning her head away or falling asleep. If your baby sucks on her fingers or moves her mouth like she’s eating, it doesn’t always mean she’s hungry - babies do these things to comfort themselves.
In the first few days of life, if your baby is frequently wanting to feed and crying, she may truly be having difficulty with breastfeeding. If you are concerned that your baby isn’t eating enough, talk to your baby’s doctor.
How do I keep breastfeeding while I get back to my regular life?
Many moms wonder how they’ll schedule trips to the grocery store, errands, and time with friends and family around a baby’s feeding schedule. Before their babies are born, most moms say they plan to breastfeed. But after their babies are born, lots of moms find it hard to figure out how to keep breastfeeding and still live a “normal” life after the first month.
Parent 2 Parent Double Wide
"When I was ready to leave the house with my baby, I found a baby wrap that would keep him close to me and allow me to breastfeed while out in public. It covered me well so I didn’t feel uncomfortable while I was breastfeeding."
Need another reason to keep breastfeeding? Leaving the house with a baby can be a challenge - diapers, wipes, binky, extra clothes… The list goes on. But when you are nursing, his food goes where you go - one less thing to pack!
Remember: The longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits are for you and your baby.
Quick tips: Breastfeeding on-the-go
What do dressing rooms, scarves, and breast pumps have in common? They can all help you give your baby breast milk while you go about your day.
- Many stores offer areas where moms can nurse their babies. Talk to other moms to learn where these are. And if you can’t find a nursing area, a dressing room can be a great option.
- If you are nervous about breastfeeding in public, use a nursing cover, favorite scarf, or receiving blanket to give you and your baby privacy.
- Check out the options for special nursing clothes. Many stores that sell baby supplies and maternity clothes also sell nursing clothes and bras that let you nurse without calling attention to yourself.
- Buy or rent an electric breast pump. Many insurance plans, including some Medicaid plans, cover all or part of the cost. You can pump your milk before you leave the house and feed your baby a bottle of breast milk while you are out.
How do I get ready to keep breastfeeding after I go back to work?
"I'm getting ready to go back to work and I'm torn about what to do."
Many women worry about breastfeeding after they go back to work. It takes a lot of planning and hard work, but it’s worth it! The longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits are for you and your baby.
Parent 2 Parent
"I couldn’t afford a fancy breast pump, and the hand-held pumps were too much work. My baby’s doctor told me I could rent one through my insurance plan, and now I’m able to pump milk for my baby to eat when I’m not near her."
Quick tips: Breastfeeding and going back to work
- Most employers are required by law to give you the time and a place to pump for your baby. Talk to your supervisor about when and where you can pump and store your milk at work.
- Start building a supply of breast milk in your freezer 3 to 4 weeks before you go back to work. This way, you’ll have enough bottles ready to help you get through the first few days of pumping at work.
- Try pumping right after you breastfeed your baby in the morning. Moms usually have more milk than their baby can eat in the early morning.
When do I wean (stop breastfeeding) my baby?
"My baby is two months old. Everyone around me is saying that she’s already received the major benefits of breastfeeding. So why continue?"
Breast milk is best for at least the first year of your baby’s life. Many babies and moms successfully breastfeed for a year or longer.
Sometimes babies or moms stop breastfeeding before the baby’s first birthday. This doesn’t mean you have to stop feeding your baby breast milk. You can continue to pump milk and give it to your baby in a bottle. When it’s time, you or your baby will start the weaning process.
Want more information?
If you have questions, are having a hard time breastfeeding, or just need some support, talk with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician. You can also call 1-800-994-9662 for free support if you have questions or problems. Here are some other online resources: