As doulas we are so fortunate to have the ability to develop relationships with the birth industry’s leading professionals.

Linda LeMon is an outstanding IBCLC and childbirth educator in Westchester and we had the opportunity to interview her to help answer some of the questions we hear most often from mothers as they begin their breastfeeding journey. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals (and neither do breasts!) so it can be challenging for a new mom to navigate breastfeeding for the first time.

After interviewing Linda, we were able to come up with a list for families to reference while they’re getting started.

How long should I breastfeed on each side once my milk comes in?

Linda LeMon: Nurse when baby shows his or her feeding cues (stirring, rooting, hands in mouth)–don’t wait until baby is crying. Allow baby unlimited time at your breast in the early days when sucking actively, then offer the second breast. Some newborns are excessively sleepy at first so wake your baby to nurse if 2 hours (during the day) or 4 hours (at night) have passed without nursing.

Will my baby become confused if I breast AND bottle feed?

Linda LeMon: The first 4-10 weeks of nursing is a time of establishing and building your supply. At six weeks, you will have a good supply built up and your baby should be nursing efficiently. In order to establish an adequate milk supply, your newborn will nurse frequently – (10-12 times or more in each 24-hour period in the beginning. Some babies will start to prefer the bottle because it’s easier and milk flows more rapidly.

When can I start pumping?

Linda LeMon: Here’s a checklist to help you identify when you can start pumping:

  • Your baby is not nursing well (or not nursing at all). A quality pump is the best way to maintain milk supply in this situation.
  • You need to increase milk supply or you are inducing lactation for a baby you did not birth. In these situations, a pump is not absolutely necessary but can certainly speed the process.
  • You plan to return to full- or part-time work and want to provide milk for baby.
  • You are planning occasional separations from baby for more than a couple of hours. Hand expression is another option.
  • You prefer to offer expressed milk (either part of the time or all of the time) for any reason
  • If baby is not nursing well or is not nursing at all, a hospital-grade rental pump is the best for building and maintaining milk supply. If this is not available, then get the highest quality pump that you can.
  • If breastfeeding is going well, then your need for a pump depends upon your plans for separation from baby.

Do I have to wake my baby to feed both during daytime feedings, and overnight?

Linda LeMon: In the early days, most babies will feed often, sometimes cluster feeding every hour for 3-4 hours. Remember to use your baby’s feeding cues and not the clock. As your babies get older offering your breast during the day more often may help them sleep better at night

What should I do if I think that I have mastitis?

Linda LeMon: The clinical definition of mastitis is a tender, hot, swollen, wedge-shaped area of breast associated with temperature of (101.3F) or greater, chills, flu-like aching, and systemic illness. Try to breastfeed more frequently, starting on the affected breast. If pain interferes with the let-down, feeding may begin on the unaffected breast, switching to the affected breast as soon as let-down is achieved. Positioning the infant at the breast with the chin or nose pointing to the blockage will help drain the affected area. Massaging the breast during the feed may also be helpful to facilitate milk removal. Massage should be directed from the blocked area moving toward the nipple. If symptoms continue call your care provider.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Linda LeMon: Monitoring your baby’s weight and waste is generally a good way to make sure your baby is getting enough milk.

Normal newborns may lose up to 7% of birth weight in the first few days. After mom’s milk comes in, the average breastfed baby gains 6 oz./week. In terms of waste, your baby typically has one dirty diaper for each day of life (1 on day one, 2 on day two, etc). After day 4, stools should be yellow and baby should have at least 3-4 stools daily that are the size of a US quarter Some babies poop every time they nurse, once mom’s milk comes in, expect 5-6+ wet diapers every 24 hours.

Another big thank you to Linda LeMon for interviewing with us and giving our breastfeeding families a little extra peace of mind.

If you are expecting a new baby and looking for more information about breastfeeding and breast health, our team can help you find the resources and support you need to get started.