Breastfeeding is like any part of childbirth for a modern mom- you need to do your research. Lexington has many breastfeeding resources for mothers, including classes, workshops and private consultations. Doraine Bailey, Breastfeeding Support Services Program Coordinator at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, helped us scratch the surface of a few common questions that are just part of what you can learn in a breastfeeding class.
Q: How soon will my baby want to eat?
A healthy, full-term baby should be able to breastfeed within 1-2 hours after being born. Holding the baby skin-to-skin will help you connect with your child and help with breastfeeding.
“If there are complications or delays, work with the labor staff to be able to get the baby for feedings as soon as possible. You may need to deputize another person to be your advocate,” Doraine said.
Enlist your spouse, mother, or doula to help make your desire to immediately breastfeed known.
Q: How soon will my milk come in?
Colostrum is available in your breasts by the 16th week of pregnancy, so you might even leak a bit before your baby is born. Your actual breastmilk comes in a few days after birth.
“A few days after birth, your body adds ‘sugar and cream’ to make your milk look like milk, but the colostrum is still there! It’s just been diluted by the other components,” Doraine said. “So, every feeding your baby gets the protein and antibodies in colostrum, along with the cream, sugar, vitamins and minerals in your perfect milk.”
Q: What causes the cramping associated with breastfeeding the first few days?
Oxytocin is released from the brain to squeeze the milk-making cells in the breast to send milk down to the baby. Oxytocin is the same chemical squeezes the uterus to help birth the baby.
Once the baby is born, there are still oxytocin receptors on the uterus. Every time you breastfeed in the early days, some of the oxytocin released goes to the uterus, to help it to continue to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. The contractions can be intense for a few days, but shouldn’t last more than a week or two.
Q: Is a nightly overflow of milk normal, and when will it stop?
An overflow of milk can be caused by many things- how you sleep, if you feed during the night, etc; Since most of us breastfeed less intensely during the night, it’s not uncommon to wake up really full.
“I suggest you place a waterproof crib pad under your fitted sheet so that any milk leakage doesn’t get into your mattress,” Doraine said. “I also suggest you make an appointment with a Lactation Consultant, who can help you understand what else may be going on and how to make things more comfortable.”
Q: How can I relieve engorged breasts?
Engorgement happens because your body doesn’t know how much to make in the early days, so it over-compensates. If you’ve had a lot of IV fluids during birth, your body is moving out that extra fluid thru your lymph nodes, which are also in your chest. Doraine suggests the key is emptying your breast to comfort so your body can learn how much you really need to make.
“In the first couple of days of really big milk supply, have the baby nurse on the first side until content and self-releases- around 15-20 minutes. Then express milk out of the second side until you feel comfortable. But you’re not emptying the breast, just feeling comfortable. At the next feeding, in about 1 ½-2 hours, offer the baby that second side, and then express off the first. After each nursing, you can use cool compresses on the breast for about 15 minutes to help reduce the swelling.”
The more you nurse and empty the breast to comfort, the faster you body learns how much milk to make. If you stay really full for more than a week, make an appointment with a Lactation Consultant, who can help you understand what else may be going on.
Lexington Breastfeeding Resources:
Baby Moon: Breastfeeding Essentials Classes. $30. 2891 Richmond Rd. Info: 420-6262.
Central Baptist: Breastfeeding 101. Free. 1720 Nicholasville Rd. Info: 260-6357.
Lexington Health Department: Breastfeeding Basics class. Free. PH Clinic South, 2433 Regency Rd. Info: 288-2395
St. Joseph-Breastfeeding Class. $25. 170 N. Eagle Creek Dr. Info: 967-2229.
UK Good Samaritan Hospital: Nursing Your Infant class. $25. 310 S. Limestone, Conference Room A. Info: 323-2750.
Private Lactation Consultations
Central Baptist: One free consultation for mothers who delivered at Central Baptist. Info: 260-6357.
Mother Nurture: Private consultations, latch-check clinics, breast pump assistance, and more. 2891 Richmond Rd. Info: 335-5949
UK Hospital: Mommy and Me Breastfeeding Clinic, a free service to all moms who would like to breastfeed. A breastfeeding assessment is performed by Kentucky Children’s Hospital providers. 740 S. Limestone, Kentucky Clinic 2nd floor. Info: 323-6211.
Support Groups and Information Resources
La Leche League of Greater Lexington: Monthly meetings for breastfeeding moms. Baby Moon, 2891 Richmond Road Info: 559-8488 or 351-9865.
St. Joseph Hospital: Free support group for mothers who delivered at St. Joseph. 170 N. Eagle Creek Dr. Info: 967-2229.