Breastfeeding 101: Where to Start with Breastfeeding and Breast Pumping

Mom holding baby and is breastfeeding baby

As a new parent, there are so many changes and questions.  Is my baby getting enough sleep?  Is my baby warm enough? Is my baby sick?  Many new mothers have concerns about feeding.  Let’s look at common questions parents have about breastfeeding.

What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding/Breast Milk? 

For babies:  lower chances of lung infections, type 1 diabetes, diarrhea, ear infections and being overweight.  Also, breast milk is rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients and other things like antibodies to help your baby be healthy and grow.  

For new moms, benefits include lowering your chances of having high blood pressure, developing certain breast and ovarian cancers, and type 2 diabetes.  

How Long Should I Breastfeed? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization recommends exclusively (no other foods or liquids) providing breast milk for the first 6 months of life, and then solid foods along with breast milk up to age two years or longer.  You may also have your own goals of how long you would like to breastfeed or pump your milk.  A lactation consultant can help you meet your lactation goals and learn to efficiently use your breast pump.

How Do I Know if My Baby is Getting Enough Milk? 

Many parents have concerns about the amount of milk their baby is receiving. Here are a few tips to know if your baby is getting enough milk. 

Your baby's stools will change during their first week of life.  Here is what to look for:  

  • Days 1 and 2: one or two dirty diapers/day (blackish and tarry looking) 
  • Days 3 and 4: at least two dirty diapers/day (green or yellow looking).    
  • Days 5 to 7: at least three or four dirty diapers/day (yellow and loose looking). 
  • After your milk production increases, your baby will often have a dirty diaper after each feeding for the first month of their life. 
  • Six or more wet diapers/day (pale yellow or no color by day 5 or 7)
  • Breastfeed 8 to 12 times every 24 hours 

Most parents will make the amount of milk their baby needs.  If you have concerns about your milk supply, milk production or if your baby is getting enough milk, please call your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.

Breastfeeding momBreastfeeding mom

Does Breastfeeding Hurt? 

In general, breastfeeding should not be painful.  If breastfeeding does hurt, here are some common reasons why it might be happening:

  • Baby’s Latch and Breastfeeding Positions:  If not latched well, this can cause pain.  Your baby should not be latched on your nipple. There are many different types of ways to position and hold your baby when breastfeeding (just make sure to support baby’s head); find the best one that works for you.  
  • Nipple Trauma:  Nipple trauma and pain can be caused by not releasing the baby’s mouth or suction before removing from the breast or not having the correct pump flange.  To determine the best flange size, you can measure your nipple (not your areola) and work with a lactation consultant.
  • Plugged Milk Duct:  A plugged milk duct is a sore lump in the breast and happens when the milk is not removed from the breast.  The best way to release a plugged milk duct is to feed your baby.  Light massage may also be helpful.
  • Thrush:  Thrush is a yeast infection and looks like a creamy, white patch and may be found in your baby’s mouth, tongue, gums and cheeks. If this occurs, please call your healthcare provider.    
  • Engorgement:  Engorged breasts can happen when milk is not removed from the breast and may be warm, tender and hard, and you may have a fever.  If this occurs, please call your healthcare provider or lactation consultant as this could lead to a breast infection (mastitis).    

Meeting with a lactation consultant during your breastfeeding journey can help you with any of these concerns.

What is Colostrum?

Colostrum is the first milk your body makes.  It is available for your baby the first 2 to 5 days after birth.  Colostrum is a golden yellow color and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and antibodies that help to build your baby’s immune system.

Do I Have to Change What I Eat When Breastfeeding? 

You do not need to change how you eat when you are breastfeeding.  The goal is to try and eat healthy foods and a variety of foods.  There are recommendations to limit the amount of high mercury seafood and caffeine as these can have effects on your baby.  Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take a vitamin/mineral supplement.

Can I Take Medication While Breastfeeding? 

The good news is many medications have little or no effect on your baby’s health or on your milk supply.  There are a few medications not recommended during lactation.  If you have concerns regarding any medications you are taking including vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medication, please discuss with your or your baby’s pediatrician or health care provider. 

What Kind of Pump Should I Buy? 

There are many types of breast pumps, which can be overwhelming for those new to pumping. Achieving a good milk let-down is important when pumping. At Aeroflow Breastpumps, we can help you determine the best pump for you based on your needs and your health insurance coverage. Please visit our homepage so we can help you get started today! 

What Do I Do When I Return to Work or School? 

Returning to work or school after having your baby can be an exciting and nervous time. Here are a few things you'll want to do to best prepare yourself: 

  • Talk with your childcare provider about your desire to provide milk for your baby. 
  • Practice using your pump before returning to work or school so you know how to put the pump together and how it operates. 
  • Pump every 2 to 3 hours, or around 2 to 3 times per 8-hour workday. 
  • Build a supply of refrigerated or frozen milk before your first day back. 
  • Before going back to work or school, practice giving your baby a bottle of your milk so they can practice too. Your baby may like to be fed with a bottle from someone other than you.

There are many state and federal laws that protect parents' workplace lactation rights.  Chat with your boss or employer about your desire to pump at work and how your workplace can support your lactation goals. Talk to a lactation consultant to discuss the best breast pump and bottle options. 

How Do I Store My Pumped Milk? 

Returning to work or school after having your baby can be an exciting and nervous time. Here are a few things you'll want to do to best prepare yourself: 

  • Fill milk in storage bags only ¾ full since milk expands during freezing.
  • Do not store previously frozen milk in the freezer, only in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid reheating milk, give room temperature milk instead of reheating.
  • Warm milk by sitting a bottle into a small bowl of warm water or use a bottle warmer (avoid using the microwave because of uneven heating).
  • Thaw milk in a refrigerator for 12 hours or under running room temperature water.
  • Store milk in the back of a refrigerator or freezer, not the door.  

Milk Storage Guidelines

This is All So New, How Can I Get Help? 

A lactation consultant (IBCLC) is a specialized healthcare provider who can help you with your lactation journey.  They are there for you to ask any questions you have about breastfeeding, especially how to navigate the first year of feeding, pumping your breast milk, your postpartum experience, and helpful breastfeeding classes and support groups.  You can find and schedule a one-on-one appointment with a lactation consultant on 

About the Author

Dr. Alena Clark is the Clinical Writer for Aeroflow Healthcare Lactation and an Instructor at Colorado State University, and has worked in lactation support for over 20 years. She is recognized as an outstanding educator and leader in lactation support in Colorado. She  developed the Toolkit for Establishing Lactation Support on University and College Campuses. She also wrote, published, and presented multiple papers on lactation support and nutrition education.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.


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