Mother's Milk - the Perfect Food for your Baby
WIC provides breastfeeding promotion and encouragement for pregnant women who are considering how best to care for their babies. WIC also provides on-going breastfeeding information and su??pport for new mothers after your baby has arrived.
Many WIC clinics provide "pregnancy classes" that include breastfeeding information that you will want to know. If you live in an area that doesn't have WIC classes, materials will be sent to you.
After the birth of your baby, you will receive more support and information. WIC also provides electric breast pumps for loan and free manual pumps. A counselor will determine which pump is right for you. Electric pumps are available on a priority basis and stock is limited.
Alaska Breastfeeding Resources
Other Breastfeeding Links and Resources
- La Leche League International
LLLI is an organization to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, education, information and encouragement and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother
A private web site promoting the awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding. Includes 101 reasons to breastfeed, a discussion forum, and over 50 articles on breastfeeding.
- World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
- World Breastfeeding Week
Frequently Asked Questions about Breastfeeding
Why should I breastfeed my baby?
Breastfeeding leads to healthy babies and healthy mothers! It is economical too. Moms are less likely to get breast cancer or ovarian cancer and often lose weight and get back in shape faster after delivery when they breastfeed. Babies get a lot less infections such as ear infections, score higher on IQ tests and are less likely to be obese as adults.
How often should I breastfeed my newborn baby?
Newborn babies need to nurse 10 to 14 times in 24 hours. They need night feedings because breastmilk is easily digested and quickly passes through the digestive system.
Can I breastfeed if I have small breasts?
Yes, you can. Breast size has no effect on your ability to breastfeed.
Won't breastfeeding make my breasts sag?
On the contrary, breastfeeding firms breast tissue. Breastfeeding will not harm your breasts or make them sag.
Should I nurse less often so I will build up my milk supply?
Definitely not! Your body makes milk based on supply and demand. When you nurse your baby often, your body gets the message "This baby is hungry! Make more milk!" If you nurse your baby less often your body gets the message "This baby does not need a lot of milk, so stop making so much." The more you nurse, the more milk you will have.
What can I do to increase my milk supply?
Nurse often, from both breasts. If your baby is sleepy, she may need to be awakened and encouraged to breastfeed more often. Every time you nurse, drink a large glass of water, milk or juice. Your body needs liquid to make milk. Don't give your baby supplemental formula. Be sure you get plenty of rest and relaxation, and eat healthy foods.
How can I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
If your baby has 6 to 8 wet diapers a day and 3 to 5 bowel movements a day, he is getting enough milk. He should be filling out and gaining weight, and be alert and active. Take your baby to be weighed at the WIC office if you are concerned. You are welcome to bring him to be weighed by WIC as often as you want.
Can my milk be too weak?
Never! Milk changes throughout the feeding. Look at a drop of your milk when you start feeding, and one when you finish. The foremilk is watery to satisfy your baby's thirst. The later milk is creamy to satisfy her hunger. The milk produced by your body for the first few days after birth is called colostrum. It looks rich and creamy. It helps fight infections and clears mecomium from your baby's digestive tract. Your milk then changes and looks different, but that is a natural change. Each mother makes the perfect milk for her baby.
Why shouldn't I give my breastfed baby a bottle?
Bottles can teach a baby to be lazy, because it is easier to suck formula from a bottle. The easy flow from a bottle fills a baby up and he does not want to breastfeed as often. This gives your body the message "This baby is not hungry, so make less milk". This sets up a negative cycle. Your milk supply goes down, your baby gets hungry, and you find yourself giving more formula. Eventually your milk may dry up.
My nipples are sore. What should I do?
Be sure you are positioning your baby so she can latch on to your nipple properly. Sit back comfortably, put your baby's head in the crook of your elbow, and pull her feet to your other side. Hold her level with your breast (a pillow helps) and turn her face and body toward you. Tickle her lower lip and wait for her to open wide. Be sure that most of the dark area around the nipple is drawn into her mouth. Break suction after she is through, by putting your finger gently into the corner of her mouth.
If soreness continues, or you get a crack in the nipple, give shorter, more frequent feedings. Offer the least sore breast first. Use water only, no soap, for washing your nipples. Air your nipples after breastfeeding, and rub them with breastmilk after feeding. Lanolin may also help. If problems continue, talk to a lactation consultant, doctor or WIC nutritionist.
Does a breastfed baby need to be burped?
Some may not burp after every feeding. Pat your baby's back gently to burp her, but don't worry if she doesn't.
What should I do if I think I have a blocked milk duct?
If you have a tender lump in your breast you may have a blocked milk duct. You should apply heat and nurse frequently. Get plenty of rest, and be sure you are positioning your baby comfortably so he can latch on well.
My breasts don't seem full anymore. Is my milk gone?
After the first few months of breastfeeding, your breasts adjust the amount of milk they make to just the right amount for your baby. As a result, the breasts seem softer and not as full. Also, babies of this age have become more efficient at draining the breast and often take less time per feeding. If you are concerned about your milk supply, see your local WIC office and they can weigh your baby for you.
What can I do if my baby's father or other family members do not want me to breastfeed?
Everyone in the family wants the best for the new baby. Explain the immense benefits of breastfeeding to both you and your baby. Fathers of breastfed babies can be supportive in many ways. Help him become familiar with basic information about breastfeeding. He can help you when you get well-intentioned but hurtful comments such as "She is not sleeping through the night, so you better give her formula". He can be there with healthy drinks and snacks for you, he can rock the baby so you can get some rest, and he can help with bathing and diapering. A caring father is just what a tired mother and baby need!
Can I breastfeed in front of other people without embarrassment?
Yes! Practice at home first. Sit in front of a mirror and practice opening your bra and feeding your baby discreetly. With time, no one will even know you are feeding your baby! Motherwear offers lots of nursing clothing that make nursing in public even easier. WIC clients receive a 20% discount on all orders too! Check out their web site at www.motherwear.com.
My baby is nursing all day and all night and still seems like he is not getting enough. Is my milk gone?
Sounds like a growth spurt! Growth spurts typically occur at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months and last for about a week or so. During this time, babies seem to nurse all the time. This is normal. If you are concerned about your milk supply or your baby's weight gain, go to your local WIC office and have your baby weighed.
I have inverted nipples. Can I breastfeed?
Yes. Inverted or flat nipples pull back into your breast, stay flat when you are cold, and make it harder for your baby to latch on. You can use a hand breast pump to pull your nipples out, or use plastic breast shells. You can try putting your fingers on the outside of your nipple and gently pull away from side to side and up and down. Talk to a lactation consultant or your WIC nutritionist.
Can I go back to work or school and still breastfeed?
Yes! It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to establish a good milk supply, so try to wait that long before returning to work or school. See if your employer will let someone bring your baby to you for feeding while you are at work. Consider alternative schedules such as part-time, flex time, job sharing or a gradual return to work or school. You can use a breastpump to collect milk at work to feed your baby later. Your local WIC office has pumps available for you to express your milk while you are away from your baby, and can teach you how to use the pump and store your milk. Check with WIC regarding pump availability. Feed your baby as often as possible when you are home.
I heard breastfeeding hurts, is this true?
Breastfeeding should not hurt. If it does, you need to contact a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding expert.
How long should I breastfeed my baby?
How long you nurse your baby is a very personal decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life followed by a gradual introduction of solid foods and continued breastfeeding for as long as mother and baby wish to.
Where can I go for help?
WIC can provide a lot of information about breastfeeding. La Leche League offers mother to mother support. You can find them at www.lalecheleague.org. In Anchorage you can go to see the lactation consultants in the Maternity Center at Providence Alaska Medical Center www.providence.org/alaska(click on Children's Hospital) or Childbirth Resources at Alaska Regional Hospital or through nutrition services at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The Alaska breastfeeding coalition has a list of lactation consultants on its web site at www.alaskabreastfeeding.com.
WIC gives vitamins to breastfed babies. Doesn't breastmilk have everything my baby needs?
Breastmilk is the best food for your baby. However, Vitamin D is needed for your baby's growing bones. Vitamin D is often called the "Sunshine Vitamin" because it is made by sunshine on bare skin. Vitamin D is added to formula and it is added to cow's milk. You are being supplied with Vitamin D to go with your breastmilk, just as Vitamin D is added to other types of milk. We recommend that you start giving your baby these drops a few days after birth. Babies who do not get enough Vitamin D can develop a serious disease called rickets, which is harmful to bones and growth.
Does my breastfed baby need any other vitamins or minerals?
Two minerals, fluoride and iron, are often recommended. Fluoride helps develop strong teeth. Starting at about 6 months of age your baby should get 0.25 mg of fluoride per day if he or she is still breastfed only or breastfed with solid foods. Iron is needed for strong blood. Your baby should get an iron supplement starting at about 4-6 months of age if he or she has not started eating rice cereal yet (rice cereal is fortified with iron). The amount to give depends on the size of your baby: 5mg per day for a baby that weighs 10-15 pounds, and 10 mg per day for a baby that weighs 15-20 pounds.
My milk dried up. What can I do?
Depending on how long it has been since you stopped breastfeeding, you may be able to start again. Talk to a lactation consultant or WIC nutritionist. Milk may dry up if you supplement a lot with formula, do not breastfeed often enough or long enough at each feeding, or if your baby does not latch on properly. With a little help, all of these problems can be solved.
My baby is constipated. What can I do?
Be sure it really is constipation. Some babies just do not have as many bowel movements as others. But if passing stool is obviously painful to your baby, and the stool is not "mushy", it may be constipation. Feed your baby breastmilk only, with no formula supplements. Try water in a bottle, if your baby is more than 2 months old. Stop feeding solid foods for a few days, if your baby is under 6 months old. Try gently exercising your baby's legs.