We promote breastfeeding as the optimal method for feeding infants, but we honor your choice as a mother.
Your nurse will help you breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery. The first hour after delivery belongs to you and your baby. Take this opportunity to learn your baby's early feeding cues and breastfeed on demand, or attempt to breastfeed every two to three hours.
Ask for lactation help as needed—our lactation educators are here to help you have the best experience possible breastfeeding! We have received the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) Award for excellence in lactation care and promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
Benefits to the baby:
- A mother's milk promotes optimum health and development for babies. It is uniquely designed to meet the complete nutritional needs of the growing infant.
- Breast milk protects the infant against illness throughout the entire first year and beyond, as long as nursing continues.
- Human milk contains proteins that promote brain development and specific immunities against human illness.
- Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become ill and need hospitalization.
- Diarrhea, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and bacterial meningitis are less common among breastfed infants.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to have colic, constipation or allergic disorders.
- Overfeeding and obesity is less likely when a baby is breastfed. These conditions can persist into childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Breastfeeding also has beneficial effects on a woman's body:
- Studies report lower rates of ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer.
- Some studies suggest that nursing offers protection against osteoporosis.
- Nursing uses extra calories, which can help new mothers lose pregnancy pounds. It also helps contract the uterus back to its original size.
- Mothers who breastfeed know that it is the best nourishment and protection for their babies. They nurse for the health benefits, and they nurse because they love and enjoy the experience.
After you have a baby, it is essential that you try to get enough rest, eat a well-balanced diet and drink enough fluids. Nothing will bolster your ability to care for your new baby better than staying healthy.
If breastfeeding does not go as planned, know that there is support available for you.
St. Francis Regional Medical Center Lactation Line
952.428.2064 or 952.428.2423
Breastfeeding classes and drop-in support are available through Amma Parenting. Visit Amma Parenting Center's website for class descriptions, dates/times, locations, fees and registration.
Public Health: Carver County
Public Health: Scott County
La Leche League
Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition
Milk expression is done for many reasons, including:
- Mom and baby are separated because of illness.
- Premature infant is unable to nurse normally.
- Mother's breasts are uncomfortably full.
- Baby is an ineffective nurser because of latching difficulty.
- Mom has a low milk supply and is attempting to increase production.
- Mom is away from her baby for more than a few hours at a time.
- Mom is returning to work.
- Mom is on medication that is not compatible with breastfeeding.
There are different ways to express breast milk, including:
- Manual expression.
- Single pumping with a battery-powered or electric breast pump.
- Double pumping with an electric breast pump.
If you have questions about which method is right for you, ask a lactation support person for advice.
How long can you store breast milk?
Freshly expressed breast milk:
- Room temperature—4 hours at 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (19 to 22 degrees Celsius).
- Refrigerator—5 to 7 days at 32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 4 degrees Celsius).
- Self-contained refrigerator freezer unit—3 to 4 months.
- Deep freezer—6 to 12 months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-19 degrees Celsius).
Thawed breast milk:
- Room temperature—do not store.
- Refrigerator—24 hours.
- Note: You should never refreeze thawed milk. Throw away any thawed milk within 24 hours.
The most important thing that the baby needs to learn is how to latch on correctly. The baby's mouth needs to be positioned on the areola, not on the nipple. There are 2 important reasons for this. The baby will get the most milk when he or she is positioned correctly, and the mother's nipples are less likely to become sore.
Here are some tips to help with getting the baby to latch on correctly:
First, Mom needs to be in a comfortable position. Use a nursing pillow or a bed pillow. Decide which breast will be offered first. Massage your breast in a circular motion.
Express a few drops of colostrum onto your nipple. You can do this by placing your thumb and forefinger on your areola just above your nipple. Position your fingers on the areola, push back toward your chest wall and then bring your fingers forward. Continue to do this around your areola until you express a few drops of colostrum.
Gently lift and support your breast. Make sure your fingers below your breast are well away from the nipple so the baby will be able to take in as much breast tissue as possible.
Point your nipple to the baby's nose. Stroke the upper lip until the baby opens his or her mouth wide like a yawn. Once the mouth is open, his or her tongue will fall down and you will have a chance to bring the baby in close. If the baby does not latch with the first attempt, stroke the upper lip again and wait for the wide-open mouth.
Once the baby latches on, you should feel tugging on the nipple but not pinching. If you feel pinching, insert your finger into the baby's mouth by his or her gum line, break the suction and attempt the latch again. The baby's nose and chin should be touching your breast. If the nose is blocked, lift your breast slightly with the hand that is supporting it. This will pull the baby's head slightly away from the breast.
There are several nursing positions. The different positions include the cradle hold, the football or clutch hold, the cross-cradle hold, and the lying down position. At first, use the position that works best for you and your baby. You can vary your positions when you feel ready.
For most breastfeeding mothers, the No. 1 concern is whether they will be able to make enough milk for their baby.
It is normal for healthy, full-term newborns to lose up to 7% of their weight before beginning to gain. Nature has provided the baby with extra fluid to support life for the first few days. The first milk, called colostrum, is all that is needed until the mature milk becomes more plentiful.
The baby that is effectively breastfeeding 8 to 12 times in 24 hours should need no nutrition other than mother's milk. Giving the baby feedings of water or formula can delay milk production.
Even though mothers are not able to see the amount of milk that their baby receives while nursing, below are signs at different ages that will help determine if the baby is feeding well.
- The baby is breastfeeding at least 8 times in 24 hours.
- You can hear a rhythmic pattern of suck/swallow while feeding for 10 minutes (by day 3 to 4, the swallowing should be much easier to hear).
- The baby should look content after the feeding and not showing signs of hunger like crying or trying to put his or her hands into his or her mouth.
- The mother's breasts feel softer after a feeding.
- Age-appropriate wet diapers. One wet diaper on day 1, 2 wet diapers on day 2, etc., until day 6. The baby should have 6 to 7 wet diapers every 24 hours.
- The baby should have yellow, seedy stools once mature milk comes in.
- The baby should stop losing weight by the fourth or fifth day after birth and should be back to his or her birth weight by 2 weeks of age.
1 to 2 months of age
The baby should be feeding 7 to 10 times every 24 hours. Average intake: 2 to 5 ounces.
2 to 4 months of age
The baby should be feeding 6 to 9 times every 24 hours. Average intake: 4 to 6 ounces.
4 to 6 months of age
The baby should be feeding 6 to 8 times every 24 hours. Average intake: 5 to 7 ounces.
Improving milk supply can be as easy as getting more rest, reducing stress or nursing the baby more often. If a mother determines that there is a delay in her milk production or if the milk supply is low, getting professional help as soon as possible can prevent early weaning.
If you are concerned about whether or not your baby is getting enough breast milk, download our breastfeeding worksheet.
Download our breastfeeding worksheet
To learn more, or to schedule an outpatient appointment with a lactation consultant, call 952.428.2064.
More from birthing services
- Childbirth education
- In labor?
- Level II Special Care Nursery
- Milk Depot
- Preregister for your delivery