If you're a new mom breastfeeding your baby for the first time, congratulations!
If you're a new mom breastfeeding your baby for the first time, congratulations! And, get ready . . . you're likely to have a new question every day. Keeping your smartphone at the ready for 4 a.m. Google searches is probably a wise idea ("What do I do if my baby falls asleep while nursing?" and "How do I know if my baby's actually getting milk?"), but before it comes to that, check out our handy guide to some of the most important breastfeeding basics that new moms need to know.
Frequency: Healthy, full-term babies will feed as often as every hour, or as infrequently as every four hours, and thrive.
Common Challenges: Engorged breasts, a shortage of milk, dry or cracked nipples, and leaky breasts are nursings moms' most frequent complaints (the good news is, there are natural remedies for all of them). Blocked ducts, or mastitis, is a more serious (and, seriously painful!) condition that's still extremely common, but may require a trip to the doctor or lactation consultant.
How to Tell If Baby's Getting Enough Milk: Most pediatricians will tell you, if your baby's gaining weight at a healthy rate, that's all you need to know! From 0 to 4 months, a breastfed newborn should gain an average of 5.5 to 8.5 ounces per week. From months 4 to 6, newborns gain 3.25 to 4.5 ounces per week, and from 6 to 12 months, baby should gain between 1.75 to 2.75 ounces per week. Don't drive yourself nuts trying to measure every last ounce, though. It's normal for breastfed babies to gain weight at a slower pace than formula-fed babies, and every child develops at their own rate.
Keep reading for more answers to your top breastfeeding questions!