The 4 most common breastfeeding questions

You've got questions, we've got answers

breastfeeding, lactation, lactation consultant, new moms

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months, but only 13 percent of new moms actually follow that advice. Even those new moms who do attempt to breastfeed exclusively during those initial six months can feel overwhelmed as they look for reliable sources of information.

That's why we asked Donna Bruschi, a Hudson Valley lactation consultant and owner of New Baby, New Paltz, to answer some of the most common breastfeeding questions that we’ve heard:

As a new mom, will I have enough breastmilk?

All but 1 or 2% of all mothers produce enough milk for their baby and many mothers produce enough for 2 or 3. For good milk production, start breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth and empty the breasts frequently. Follow the baby's feeding cues and nurse at least 10- 12 times in 24 hours for the first two weeks.

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What should I be eating while I'm breastfeeding?

You don't need to eat special foods but you should try eat a wide variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible — just as you would anytime you want to be healthy. Sometimes babies have a sensitivity to 1 or 2 foods in your diet, but most babies do not.

Can you breastfeed and use formula at the same time?

Any amount of breastfeeding is better than none. A strategy that ensures that you have a good milk supply is to feed the baby at the breast first, get help from a lactation consultant if you think you are not producing enough, pump milk for supplemental feedings and think of formula as an emergency backup.

What if I have no interest in breastfeeding? What can I do to still bond with my baby?

Lots of women feel uncomfortable when they think about breastfeeding. They've heard it hurts, they have to work, or they want their breasts to themselves. Hold your diapered baby on your bare chest and relax without trying to feed. You will enjoy it and your baby will be calmer and happier.

Need a pediatrician? Check out our Health Guide to find one

The benefits of breastfeeding

• Breast milk provides a baby with all the necessary nutrients for healthy development. It also contains antibodies to ward off common childhood illnesses.

• Breastfeeding causes moms to burn up to an extra 500 calories per day.

• For moms, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. It also lowers rates of obesity.

• Infants will breastfeed until they feel full and on average, they remove 67 percent of mom’s available milk. With a bottle, babies typically feed until the bottle is empty.

• Adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese, and they perform better in intelligence tests.

• Breastfeeding exposes a baby to several different tastes and smells which can influence a child’s acceptance of food when weaning.

• Breast milk completes the development of baby’s stomach lining, making it 15 times thicker than that of a formula-fed baby.

• Breastfeeding helps babies regulate their breathing (newborns have immature respiratory systems).

• Breastfeeding soothes babies and can be a pain reliever — breast milk contains endorphins that calm your baby.