Breastfeeding Basics


Breastfeeding 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.

Do any of the facts below surprise you?

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Most women breastfeed. At least 82% of all women in the United States breastfeed. Even among the groups less likely to breastfeed, about 68% or more start breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the norm in the United States.

Exclusively breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months. After that, breastfeeding should continue with complementary foods for 1 year or more.

Problems with lactation and latching

Worries about nutrition and weight

Concerns about taking medications

Workplace policies that don’t support breastfeeding

Cultural pressures or a lack of family support

Unsupportive hospital practices

There may be discomfort at first, 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 moms and babies are able to breastfeed successfully, there are certain medical conditions in which breastfeeding is not recommended. In addition, some breastfeeding babies may need extra milk for medical reasons if they cannot get enough from your breasts. Together, you and you 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 breasts. This helps their mouth and face grow and develop. Bottle nipples have a different shape and may have a faster flow. Babies are more likely to gag or overfeed when using a bottle. If you need to use a bottle, please learn about safe bottle-feeding from a healthcare provider first.

Rest assured - you have the legal right to breastfeed in any public space. Many women 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 while breastfeeding, but not all. Your healthcare provider can help determine if your medications or habits are safe for breastfeeding. Second hand smoke can increase your baby’s risks for many health problems, and chemicals in cigarettes do pass through breast milk. If you are going to smoke, it is still better to breastfeed than not to breastfeed. 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.