Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Is This Normal Or Do I Need Help?
While breastfeeding may be natural, it is not always intuitive.
One of the most common questions we receive from clients is "Is this normal?" While a lot of aspects about breastfeeding may be able to be answered via Google, sometimes it is more helpful to have a professional come and evaluate your progress. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC, is a certified professional who works solely to support you on your feeding journey. Feeding your baby may look different based on your choices and preferences. An IBCLC is here to support you in whatever your feeding decisions may look like while also providing the necessary information and hands-on support to ensure that everything truly is progressing normally.
Feeding your baby is the most important thing you will do as a new parent to ensure healthy growth for your baby. That being said, breastfeeding may be one of the most challenging aspects of your postpartum journey if you do not have the right support. Sore nipples, milk supply questions, and the all important question of "Is my baby getting enough?" will all be answered during a private session with an IBCLC.
So how do you know if you need some extra support? First of all, we are here to tell you that breastfeeding should not be painful. Pain is the body's way of saying that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Please don't ignore this! We have heard countless new parents saying to "stick with it and the pain will go away," but instead of bearing the pain, try reaching out to an IBCLC. They can provide you with information on how to correct a shallow latch and adjust your positioning so that breastfeeding doesn't have to be painful. If you are concerned about milk supply, an IBCLC can evaluate your supply through weighted feeds and/or pumping. If your baby is slow to gain weight and your pediatrician is suggesting supplementing with formula, reach out to an IBCLC to see if there is a way to help your baby gain weight before introducing formula.
On that note, how do you know if breastfeeding is progressing normally? There are some signs that everything is going well. First, if your baby is latching without causing you pain this is very normal. Baby's latch should be deep on the breast without their lips curling inward. You might see some quick sucking motions followed by longer draws and some soft swallows may be heard. When your baby comes off of the breast, your nipple should be nice and round with no cracking or bleeding. Your baby should be satisfied after breastfeeding which may look like your baby being relaxed or sleepy without crying or continuing to root around. Typically, babies should gain between 0.5-1.0oz per 24 hours in the first 4 months with weight gain slowing down after that. Normal output looks like 6-8 wet and dirty diapers in 24 hours. As far as milk supply, a normal output is about 1oz per hour total between both breasts; a typical breastfed baby will take in about 25oz in 24 hours by one month of age. This amount stays the same until introducing solids at which point it decreases. If at any point you feel like something may not be progressing normally or you would like a check up to ensure optimal breastfeeding, please contact an IBCLC.