Breastfeeding Basics


Infant Feeding Facts

Each of us has unique opinions on infant feeding formed from our own experiences and those of others we know. Knowing the facts will help you make informed choices that are best for your family.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended … After that, babies should continue to receive human milk along with complimentary foods for 2 years or more.

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Most babies receive human milk. At least 83% of newborns start out receiving human milk. Human milk feeding is the norm in the United States.

Problems with lactation and latching

Worries about nutrition and weight

Concerns about taking medications

Workplace policies that don’t support lactation

Cultural pressures or a lack of family support

Unsupportive hospital practices

Do any of the facts below surprise you?

There may be discomfort at first when the baby latches on to the nipple, but it should be minimal and should go away in the first week or so. Pain that continues or is severe should be assessed by your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant.

Small breasts can produce a full milk supply and babies can breastfeed on any size. Babies can latch onto many types of breast nipples. If you have an uncommon breast shape, widely spaced breasts, history of breast surgery, or are concerned about your breast tissue or nipples, please contact your health care provider or a lactation consultant for an evaluation.

Your milk provides all the hydration your baby needs.

Breast milk is a living, constantly changing food that provides everything your baby needs to grow and be healthy. The living parts of your milk are unique to you.

Newborns do not know the difference between night and day. They are growing rapidly, and need the frequent, easily digested feedings that your milk provides.

While most families are able to succeed with lactation, there are certain medical conditions in which human milk is not recommended. In addition, some breastfeeding babies may need extra milk for medical reasons if they cannot get enough from your milk supply. Together, you and your medical team can determine the best feeding plan for your family.

It takes practice and time and support. So be patient with yourself and your baby as you both learn how to make it work. Get support from friends, family, and your healthcare team. Remember to take it day by day. It gets MUCH easier after the first days and weeks!

Infants use their tongue, jaw, and face muscles to get milk from your body. Bottle nipples have a different shape and may have a faster flow. Babies are more likely to gag or overfeed when using a bottle. When using a bottle, please practice paced bottle-feeding.

Rest assured - you have the legal right to feed your baby in any public space. Many mothers successfully use pumps or their hands to express their milk for others to feed when they are away from their infants. Talk to your supervisor about your plans ahead of time and get support from available resources.

Many medications are considered safe to use during lactation, but not all. Your healthcare provider can help determine if your medications or habits are safe. Second hand smoke can increase your baby’s risks for many health problems, and chemicals in cigarettes do pass through human milk. If you are going to smoke, it is still better to provide your milk than not. Talk to you doctor about quitting aids and available resources.

Ready, Set, QUIZ!


Cultural pressures or a lack of family support is one of the 6 common reasons why women stop breastfeeding before they are ready.