The Top 5 Questions This Lactation Consultant Gets Asked
The Tot Lactation Expert Rebecca Agi, MS, IBCLC, shares the top 5 questions she gets asked as a lactation consultant.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned pro, there are so many questions when it comes to breastfeeding your baby. Here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I get as a private lactation consultant:
From the mom-to-be
1. What are your top breastfeeding must-haves?
Luckily all you need to breastfeed is a breast and a baby. However, there are a few products that can definitely make the breastfeeding journey easier. First and foremost, I recommend getting an electric breast pump. While regular pumping is not a must for all breastfeeding women, having a pump available is a good idea, especially if you plan on returning to work and want to provide milk for your baby. Nearly all insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump today, so be sure to contact your provider to see which type of pump your plan covers. Take a look at our article on Breastfeeding Insurance for more information. Additionally, I recommend investing in at least 3 nursing bras, organic nipple balm, reusable nursing pads, and a good feeding pillow.
From the new mom
2. How long should it take to breastfeed?
During the newborn period, a full feeding for a healthy, full-term baby typically takes about 40 minutes (20 minutes on each breast) total. These early feedings are exhausting and take a tremendous amount of patience, but eventually things do get easier. As babies get older they become more efficient eaters, so what takes 40 minutes in the beginning eventually can take just 5–10!
3. What are some ways my partner can bond with the baby?
Luckily, feeding isn’t the only way to bond with your tot. My number one recommendation for getting partners to bond with baby is always skin-to-skin contact. Newborns crave physical contact and having your partner practice skin-to-skin between feedings is extremely beneficial for everyone involved. Your partner can also bring the baby to you before a feeding, burp the baby after a feeding, change diapers, read to the baby and wear the baby in a sling or carrier. Having your partner help with these tasks will allow them to bond with the baby while giving you a much-needed break between feeds.
4. When should I start pumping?
Believe it or not, it’s best to wait until 4-6 weeks postpartum to start pumping, unless of course you have breastfeeding issues that require you to pump before then, or if you have chosen to pump exclusively from the start. Waiting for the 4-6 week mark helps ensure that your milk supply has been fully established and meets the exact needs of your growing baby. If you’re getting ready to go back to school or work, you can wait to start pumping 2-3 weeks before your return. This will give you enough time both to build a milk reserve in your freezer and to practice bottle-feeding with your breastfed baby. Many women think they need to start pumping right away, but pumping in addition to breastfeeding in the early days can lead to milk oversupply. Oversupply may sound appealing if your goal is to stock your freezer, but women with oversupply tend to suffer from recurring plugged ducts and mastitis, which you’ll definitely want to avoid.
5. When is the best time to introduce the bottle?
For a smooth transition, you’ll want to introduce the bottle somewhere around the third to fourth week when your milk supply is fully established and breastfeeding is off to a strong start. This three-to-four-week window is ideal because waiting any longer can result in a baby who might reject the bottle completely. Remember, just because you want your baby to take a bottle doesn’t mean you need to introduce formula. Pumping and feeding expressed breast milk is the next best thing to direct breastfeeding and a wonderful way to continue providing the ultimate nutrition to your baby, even when you’re not available.
More about Rebecca Agi of Best Milk LA
Rebecca Agi is a Los Angeles based International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who provides in-home counseling and education to new and expecting families. See more about Rebecca’s Lactation Consultant Services.