Lactation Experts Tackle Your Burning Questions About Breastfeeding   

Lactation Experts Tackle Your Burning Questions About Breastfeeding

Mother breastfeeding her baby at home on the couch
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Cassandra Leahy, DNP, RN, IBCLC, LCCE
Robin Petrick, IBCLC

It is not uncommon for new or experienced nursing parents to feel anxiety or confusion around the topic of breastfeeding/chest feeding. 

Our expert lactation consultants, Cassandra Leahy and Robin Petrick answer some of the most frequently asked breastfeeding questions. 

Question 1: Is breastmilk good for babies?

Yes, parents should be encouraged to breastfeed their children for at least two years. The longer an infant is breastfed, the greater the protection from certain illnesses and long-term diseases. 

Here are some benefits of breast milk: 

  • Builds bonding between mother and baby
  • Identified as the optimal source of nutrition for infants, it is designed to meet the need of your baby
  • Strengthens immune system, antibodies in breastmilk help protect infants from illness

Help prevent short and long-term illness and disease, lower risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Childhood cancers and lymphomas
  • Less likelihood of ear infections and stomach bugs
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than baby formula

Question 2: Does breastfeeding benefit the mom?

Yes, breastfeeding offers several benefits for moms too. Here are some benefits: 

  • Lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and type two diabetes
  • Helps the uterus get back to a normal size after childbirth
  • Cardiovascular benefits including a lower risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease
  • May lowers the risk of postpartum depression

Question 3: What foods should I avoid while breastfeeding?

A well-balanced nutritious diet is recommended for everyone. Many people are surprised to learn that, for the most part, there are no foods off-limits during lactation. 

In rare cases where there is an infant food intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy, parents are advised to work with their providers and lactation consultants so they can create an individualized care plan to meet their family’s needs. 

Question 4: What are the best tips for breast engorgement?

Breastfeeding parents may experience breast engorgement or mastitis, which is breast swelling that can result in pain and tenderness around your breast.  You may experience the following symptoms:

  • A lump in your breast
  • Pain or swelling near the lump
  • Redness
  • Decrease in supply of milk

Our lactation consultants share a few tips to clear the clog and alleviate pain: 

  • Maintain your milk removal schedule, feeding/pumping when you normally would
  • Treatment focusing on reducing breast inflammation is most effective
    • Apply ice packs to the breast (do not put the ice directly on the skin, instead wrap in a clean cloth)
    • Medication like Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) can help alleviate pain and reduce tissue inflammation
  • Excessive use of heat or massage is not recommended and can result in more tissue inflammation
  • A warm shower or a warm pack applied to the breast for a few minutes prior to feeding may feel good
  • Change your breastfeeding position from time to time

Generally, breast engorgement will clear on its own with home treatments, but if the symptoms persist for over two days or you’re experiencing frequent discomfort- consider making an appointment with your lactation consultant or your doctor.

Question 5: When should you stop breastfeeding?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their babies' lives. After six months, when solid foods are gradually introduced, parents are encouraged to continue breastfeeding for at least two years.

Each family's breastfeeding journey is unique and personal. It is important that families receive the education and support they need to reach their infant feeding goals.

Prenatal education, individualized lactation care, telephone support, and breastfeeding support groups are some of the resources available to you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or lactation consultants if you have any concerns.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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