What to expect when you’re breastfeeding

From just after birth through baby’s first year

Breastfeeding is one of the body’s most amazing functions. You’d think it would come naturally and baby would automatically know what to do. Sometimes that’s the case, and sometimes it’s not. Knowing what to expect during the first weeks and months of your baby’s life can help ensure breastfeeding success.

How do you prepare for the breastfeeding journey?

Baby Bistro and Boutique

The Baby Bistro and Boutique, a shop within Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, sells and rents breast pumps and parts, breastfeeding bras, breastfeeding pillows and many other breastfeeding supplies and support items. The shop was created with support from the Norton Healthcare Foundation.

Call (502) 899-6530

eCare for Breastfeeding Support

Let us help you anytime, anywhere. A breastfeeding support video visit can help breastfeeding mothers with questions or concerns about latching and positioning, mastitis, clogged ducts and more.

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Whether you turn to the internet, attend prenatal classes, read books, or have supportive family and friends who provide lots of advice, some information may be well-intended and right for you and your baby. Some may not.

I was one of these moms. I am a lactation consultant and nurse, but I wasn’t when my last son was born. I went to classes and read many breastfeeding books to make sure I knew what I was doing when the baby came. I didn’t think beyond his birth. Little did I know I was not prepared in the least.

My son was born prematurely at 36 weeks. He did well in the hospital and was sent home. Once home, severe engorgement set in and I was miserable, and I only had a hand pump.

I thought my son was breastfeeding OK because he was sucking — no one told me to listen for swallows or what that would sound like. It turned out he was not ingesting enough milk. My son was 5 pounds, 12 ounces at birth; was 5 pounds, 9 ounces when we left the hospital; and in five days went down to 4 pounds, 9 ounces and had to be supplemented with formula.

Because he had some medical issues that needed treatment, I had to pump in addition to breastfeeding to keep milk supply coming. Knowing what I know now as a nurse and lactation consultant, my son and I were at high risk for breastfeeding failure.

Unfortunately, there is no set of rules that works for everyone. Books and classes are great, don’t get me wrong, but they are just a general overview of what to expect. We have great guidelines for breastfeeding, but not everyone fits into that nice cookie-cutter guide.

That is why it is so important to have a good resource to turn to when you need it and to feel comfortable using that resource. A lactation consultant can help with these common issues and more:

  • Growth spurts: when they occur and how to manage them
  • When should the baby be back to birth weight
  • How much milk should a mom be producing
  • How much weight should a baby be gaining
  • How long should a feeding last and various ages
  • How to manage a distracted baby
  • How milk supply and baby’s weight is affected when baby sleeps through the night
  • Dealing with a “nursing strike”: when baby refuses the breast
  • Going back to work
  • When and how to start complementary feeds
  • How to manage teething while breastfeeding
  • Nursing twins or an older baby and newborn at the same time
  • Relactation and inducing lactation
  • Helping mom breastfeed a baby with Down syndrome or a disability
  • Helping moms with hearing impairment or a disability
  • How to wean comfortably

No two babies are alike. Even if you are a mom with a second or third baby, you may need assistance to successfully breastfeed. There is never a silly question.

Breastfeeding is an ever-changing journey that we rarely are completely prepared for. Know you have someone there to help — you just have to call and ask.

Lactation consultant assistance is offered by Norton Healthcare Lactation Centers and Services, a part of Norton Women’s Care. Get one-on-one assistance with breastfeeding issues including pumping and back-to-work consultations, individual prenatal consultations to prepare an expectant mother for breastfeeding and assistance with special needs infants, multiples and babies having difficulty with weight gain. Specialists also have the capability to analyze breast milk for fat and caloric content.

– Jena Booker
Lactation consultant
Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital


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