Breastfeeding FAQs

Can I get pregnant if I am breast feeding?

The short answer is YES. Relying on breastfeeding to suppress ovulation is effective only for women who exclusively breastfeed. It may not suppress ovulation beyond six months after delivery or for women who have had a period since delivery. If you are not sure whether you meet the recommended criteria to use breastfeeding as birth control, check with your doctor.

What should I do if my baby is in the NICU but I plan to breastfeed?

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center has breast pumps and refrigerators in every private room. Lactation consultants are available to assist you in this process.

Help! I feel like my baby constantly wants to nurse and won’t get on a schedule. How often should I nurse my baby?

Breastfeeding mothers should understand that their infants may eat more frequently than formula-fed infants because human milk empties the stomach faster than formula. Newborns will nurse 8 to 12 times or more in 24 hours for 10 to 15 minutes per breast. Breastfeeding should occur every 1.5 to three hours, where the interval between feedings is calculated from the beginning of one nursing to the beginning of the next.

We encourage breastfeeding newborns on demand. The idea of allowing a baby to “cry it out” does NOT apply to newborns. Your baby should settle into a more predictable schedule when he is older, but you should be prepared to nurse your infant frequently in the beginning.

I’ve heard a lot about “nipple confusion.” When can I start feeding my baby with a bottle or give her a pacifier?

Most healthcare providers and lactation consultants encourage patients to avoid the use of a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established. In most cases, parents can safely wait about two weeks before introducing a bottle with expressed breast milk.

What can I do to avoid or alleviate the pain from breast engorgement?

Breast engorgement is caused by inefficient or absent draining of the breast. It may occur 3 to 7 days postpartum, or it may occur later as the result of a delayed or missed feeding. Frequent breastfeeding or pumping can help to avoid and to treat engorgement. Warm compresses or a warm shower may facilitate milk removal, and cold compresses may decrease swelling and pain.

Breastfeeding is painful for me. Am I doing something wrong?

Early, mild nipple discomfort is common among breastfeeding women. Nipple pain beyond soreness or discomfort beyond the beginning of a nursing episode may be an indication of suboptimal breastfeeding technique. Correct latch and positioning are crucial. If you are still experiencing pain, we encourage you to contact your physician or speak to an outpatient lactation consultant to adjust and optimize latching techniques.

Will I be able to breastfeed if my nipples are flat or inverted?

Nipple shields, which are made of latex or silicone, may be used to help an infant latch on to a flat or inverted nipple. They may also be helpful for engorged breasts, sore nipples, or transitioning a premature infant from tube feeding to breastfeeding. The lactation consultants at the hospital will be able to advise you on whether a nipple shield may be helpful for you.

In order to increase my milk supply, should I start pumping prior to delivery?

We discourage pumping or nipple stimulation prior to delivery.  Stretching or rolling the nipples during pregnancy may result in oxytocin release, which may stimulate uterine contractions.