Ask the Experts: Common Questions Answered by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice - it is the ideal way to nurture both your baby and yourself.
Congratulations expectant moms and dads – you are pregnant!
Along with your excitement, you probably have a lot questions.
We are here to help!
The great thing about online support is you can access information
anytime you need it – even at 3:00 a.m.!
There is a lot of great information on the internet and good mom-to-mom support networks. Some favorites are:
Here is a handy list of terms used in breastfeeding support materials:
Areola — The areola is the darker skinned area around the nipple.
Colostrum (foremilk) — Colostrum is the thick yellowish fluid that is secreted by the breast in the first few days after delivery, before mature milk is produced. Although only a small amount of colostrum is released from the breast, this liquid is loaded with calories and infection-fighting proteins.
Engorgement — When breasts are so full of milk that it is uncomfortable/painful for the mother. This often happens when the mature milk first comes in a few days after giving birth (following the colostrum period). It can also happen if the child suddenly nurses less than what it has been doing (which could be for various reasons), so that the breasts are producing too much milk for the lessened demand.
Hindmilk — Breastmilk that is higher in fat is available at the end of the feeding. The cells within breasts (alveoli) produce milk all the time. Between feedings, the milk stays in the milk ducts within the breasts, and the fat globules in milk tend to stick to the walls of the alveoli and to each other. When more and more milk is being produced, it moves towards the nipple, leaving more fat near the back of the breast. So with the next feeding, the baby will receive the lower-fat foremilk first and will get the milk with extra fat (hindmilk) toward the end of the feeding. Often times moms worry that the baby is not getting enough hindmilk. This worry is often for naught. Moms don't have to be concerned about this distinction but can simply feed their baby on demand and trust the baby is getting the nutrients needed.
IBCLC — International Board Certified Lactation Consultants provide assistance for all breastfeeding problems, including the most challenging ones. The IBCLC is an international group that ensures a consistent standard throughout the world. To become a member of the IBCLC, a person must pass an exam and have many hours of clinical experience working with breastfeeding moms and babies.
La Leche League International — Founded in 1956 by seven women who had learned about successful breastfeeding while nursing their own babies, La Leche League is the only organization with the sole purpose of helping breastfeeding mothers. Each year, an estimated 750,000 American mothers call La Leche League with questions and concerns.
Lanolin — A cream that can be applied to soothe sore, cracked nipples. Make sure that you only use a pure form of lanolin like Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream as this will prevent allergies to the toxins that come in impure forms. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin is the safest purest Lanolin.
Latching On — Latching on is when the baby takes the nipple and areola properly into his mouth to begin nursing.
Let-Down (milk ejection reflex) — Let-down occurs when the sucking action of the baby on the breast sends a message to the brain, stimulating the hypothalamus gland, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland. Hormones are then released that act on special cells in the breast to produce the milk and send it toward the nipple where it is available for the baby.
Lipase — Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fat in breastmilk. In rare instances it may be in higher quantities in certain women's breastmilk and may cause breastmilk to become rancid when frozen.
Nursing bra — Nursing bras typically either have flaps on the cups or can be pulled to one side so you can bare a breast without taking the bra off. Nursing bras are popular and considered essential for nursing moms.
Positioning — The way a baby is held or situated when breastfeeding. There are many different kinds of breastfeeding positions. See Breastfeeding Positions at a Glance for more information.
Prolactin — A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that is responsible for milk production within the alveoli in the breast. During pregnancy, prolactin makes the breasts grow. After giving birth, it stimulates the milk production. Prolactin is made in response to nipple stimulation, when the baby suckles at the breast. Low prolactin levels can affect mother's milk supply, in which case prescription drugs are often used.
Pumping — Extracting the milk from breast with the help of an external pump. There are both manual and electrical breast pumps (See Lansinoh Affinity Double Electric Breast Pump and Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump). Pumping enables mothers to store their milk so that a caregiver can then give it to the baby while mom is away (for example working). Pumping is also used often if the mother has a low milk supply, or to induce lactation or relieve engorgement. Many moms with pre-term babies have to pump their milk since the baby is too small to feed at the breast.
Relactation — Resuming breastfeeding after a period of not producing milk, without giving birth in between. Relactation typically happens if a mother is forced to stop breastfeeding for a while, or if a formula-feeding mother later decides she wants to breastfeed. It certainly is possible, and is based on stimulating the nipples by a breast pump and/or baby. The less time since the mother ceased to breastfeed, the better the chances are to develop a full milk supply.
Rooting Reflex — The rooting reflex is what happens when touching your breast to the center of the baby's lips or stroking his cheek. This causes the baby to open his mouth and turn his head to one side seemingly looking for the breast.