#AskMamaExperts - Top 3 Questions on Your Breastfeeding Journey

Hey Mamas. My name is Courtney and I'm Hey Mama's lactation and sleep expert. I'm also a registered nurse and I work in the neonatal ICU. I'm a registered and certified lactation consultant and a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. I'm also the owner and CEO of Mama Linc, which helps families with their babies, breastfeeding and sleep journeys. I'm going to answer the top three questions I get asked the most as a lactation consultant to help you with your breastfeeding journey. 

How do I know my baby's getting enough milk? 

This is a great question and common concern I get asked about a lot. There are a few tricks and tips to help you know if your baby's getting enough. 

First, when they are at the breast, can you hear them swallowing milk? If you can hear them swallowing milk, you know they're getting something. Another way to tell is if they are having four to six heavy wet nappies a day. This is what you want to see to ensure that they are really hydrated. 

Next, are they happy and content when sleeping between feeds? If they are, this is generally a pretty good sign. And finally, are they gaining weight? On average, we want to see babies gain roughly around 150 grammes a week on average. 

When can I introduce a bottle? 

Around the three to four week mark is a great time to introduce a bottle. By this time, your milk is completely in and has settled to what your baby is needing. 

Your next question might be how do I build a stash to give a bottle? So in those first few weeks when you're leaking milk or feeling engorged, pop on a silicone pump like a Haakaa or similar, to catch the leaking milk and to help soften the breast. This will help you slowly grow a stash. After a feed in the morning you can also pump. You don’t need to do this often, just once a day, pump that little bit extra after feeding and put it in the freezer. When you go to give a feed from your stash, make sure that you are pumping to replace the bottle. If you're not pumping, your body won’t know that your baby still needs that feed and it will cause a decrease in your supply. As a general rule, if you give a bottle, pump a bottle at the same time. 

Why does it hurt to breastfeed? 

This is the most common question I get asked. I think it's because we don't get enough education before we have the baby. 

Let's be honest... breastfeeding is not natural. It doesn't just come easy to everyone, or even to the majority of women. It leads to a lot of nipple abrasion, sore nipples, and decreased breastfeeding rates, because we don't have that education. 

I'm gonna give you a few tips to help with it right now. First, the latch -  you need to be making sure that you have a nice deep latch. You want the baby's chin to be going into the breast first, then you want to get their top lip to the nipple and aim it towards the roof of the mouth so they can get a nice deep latch. If the latch is hurting at any time, break the latch and start again. With positioning, you need to make sure that baby's aligned horizontally with your nipple. Even a little bit higher or lower can lead to abrasions. 

Courtney Garland
CEO & Founder of Mamalinc - www.mamalinc.com.au
Registered Nurse (RN) in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Certified Lactation Consultant (IBLCE)
Member of Association of Professional Sleep Consultants (APSC)