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Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - What it is

1. Does breastfeeding hurt?

Breastfeeding should not be painful. If breastfeeding hurts, something is wrong. You may experience some tenderness or discomfort during the first few days of breastfeeding as your body adjusts to a new sensation, but it should never be painful. If there is pain, the most common cause is poor latch.

It is important to seek help as soon as possible to resolve the problem.

2. What is colostrum?

Colostrum is the first milk, which is produced for the 1st few days after birth. Its composition is very different from mature breastmillk. It is important for the baby's long-term health and development. It has a higher content of protein than mature breastmilk and much of the protein is present as antibodies, which help to protect your baby against infection. Colostrum is also rich in minerals and vitamins A and D.

3. When will my milk “come in”?

Generally, a mother's milk tends to “come in” between the third and fourth day after delivery. The timing is also dependent on regular draining of the milk by feeding and expressing.

4. How often and for how long should I feed my baby?

Breastfeeding “on demand” is very important. It is about responding flexibly to your baby’s hunger cues. It means initiating feedings when the baby requests them, and continuing each feeding session until the baby is satisfied. Usually, your baby feeds every two to three hourly, with each feed lasting between 15 to 45 minutes, within 24 hours. It is common for your baby to breastfeed on demand eight to 12 times in a day. Some very young babies (such as premature babies), jaundiced or sick babies may not have the strength to wake up and demand to be fed. Be sure to wake your baby at least once every three hours to feed. Most babies will feed less frequently as they grow.

5. What is “rooming-in”?

Rooming-in is a practice of keeping your baby by your side at all times in your ward after delivery. The intent is to encourage you to establish a closer bond with your baby sooner. Here are some key benefits of rooming-in:

  • Connect and get to know your baby sooner.
  • Learn to recognise your baby’s feeding cues.
  • Practise exclusive breastfeeding him “on demand”.
  • Interact with your baby more closely so you learn what your baby’s other needs are, e.g. sleepy, uncomfortable, unwell or afraid.
  • Increase confidence in caring for your baby.

6. Is breast milk alone sufficient to meet my baby's nutritional needs?

Breast milk is the natural first food for babies and the composition of your breast milk changes as your baby grows. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), mothers should establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months because it is the optimal way of feeding babies. Thereafter, you can give your baby complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.

7. How is breast milk different from infant formula?

Breast milk has greater nutritional value than infant formula. Human milk contains just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein for human digestion, brain development and growth. Formula milk contains a different type of protein that human infants can have difficulty digesting. Formula-fed infants tend to be fatter than breastfed infants, but not necessarily healthier.

Breast milk also contains immunologic agents or the mother's antibodies to diseases. These antibodies are transferred to the infant and act against bacteria and viruses. The presence of anti-inflammatory agents in breast milk also helps to regulate the body's immune system response against infection.

The bifidus factor in breast milk encourages the growth of Lactobacillus factor, which is a beneficial bacteria that prevents the growth of harmful organisms in a breastfed baby's digestive tract. Since a baby's immune system is not fully mature until around two years old, breast milk provides an advantage that formula-fed infants do not have. Human milk straight from the breast is always clean, because it is untainted by polluted water or dirty bottles, which can lead to diarrhoea in the baby.

8. Do I need to follow a special diet while breastfeeding?

A well-balanced diet is beneficial for your own health, regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not. There is no single answer to what you need to eat or drink but the general rule of thumb is to stay hydrated, limit your alcohol intake to no more than 30 mls per day and feed your baby before consuming alcohol.

9. Does eating ginger cause my baby to be jaundiced if I breastfeed?

There is no evidence of this but we do encourage eating in moderation. Jaundice is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the baby’s body. Bilirubin is a by-product of a red cell breakdown, which occurs naturally every day. However, a newborn’s liver is still immature, so the bilirubin breakdown is slow, leading to accumulation and the characteristic yellow coloration of the baby’s eyes and skin.

Avoid traditional or herbal remedies when you are breastfeeding as your baby’s immature system may be sensitive to certain components or trace elements.

10. What should I eat to increase my breast milk supply?

Unripe papayas and fish are traditionally linked to increasing breast milk supply. Other food that can increase milk production include oatmeal, barley, salmon, asparagus, spinach, garlic, almonds and fennel seeds. Fenugreek is a common herb used in curry dishes. It has also been taken to increase milk supply. Fenugreek tea can be consumed four times a day, and fenugreek capsules are available from health food outlets or pharmacies. You can take either two capsules four times a day or three capsules three times a day. Excessive consumption of fenugreek may result in loose stools. Our advice is to take these supplements in moderation and consult your doctor or lactation consultant if in doubt.

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Symptoms

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - How to prevent?

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Causes and Risk Factors

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Diagnosis

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Treatments

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Preparing for surgery

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Post-surgery care

Breastfeeding - Commonly Asked Questions - Other Information

For more information, please call:

  • KKH Lactation Service
    6-CALL KKH (6-2255 554)
    Note: Leave your contact details with our telephone operator and our Lactation Consultants will return your call.

  • Lactation Tele-Consultation Service
    6-CALL KKH (6-2255 554)
    Note: Leave your contact details with our telephone operator and our Lactation Consultants will return your call to schedule an appointment for the Tele-Consultation.

  • Breastfeeding Mothers' Support Group (Singapore)

  • Joyful Parenting and Breastfeeding Hotline
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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