Frequently asked questions | breastfedbabies

Is it true that not all women can produce milk? My partner had to give up breastfeeding our first child because she didn’t have enough milk.

Father reading to babyGiven the right help almost all women can breastfeed. But lots of women find they have to give up breastfeeding before they had intended to because of problems with soreness and concerns that their baby isn’t getting enough milk. That’s why most breastfeeding mothers need help and support to be able to breastfeed for as long as they wish. The sections on positioning and attachment and poor milk supply provide further information on how your partner can avoid getting sore nipples and how to make sure your baby is getting enough milk.

I’m worried that my partner will have it all to do and she’ll be exhausted with looking after the baby and doing all the feeds. What can I do to help?

After having a baby most women do feel really tired and often very emotional, as there is such a lot to do and to get used to. Coping with the demands of a new baby can be stressful and your help and reassurance can make all the difference. Some of the ways you can help are making sure your partner and baby are comfortable while feeding, or bringing your partner something to drink and a healthy snack such a piece of fruit or a slice of toast. Do as much of the housework and cooking as you can, so that she can concentrate on feeding the baby. You can also get involved with caring for your baby by changing nappies, bathing him and settling him after feeds. Our leaflet What dads should know about breastfeeding provides lots of tips on what you can do to help.

I’d like to be able to feed the baby; can we give our breastfed baby a bottle?

After the first few weeks, when your partner and baby have got used to breastfeeding and it’s going well you can give your baby the odd bottle of milk, preferably expressed breastmilk. It’s important to wait until breastfeeding is going really well as some babies get confused between feeding on the breast and sucking from a bottle. This is because the way a baby gets milk from the breast is very different to sucking on a bottle. Your partner also needs to know that if she misses out on feeds her milk supply can go down. It’s best to give your baby expressed breastmilk rather than formula milk. Your partner can express her milk by hand or by using a breast pump. For more information see the section on expressing breastmilk.

I don’t like the idea of my partner breastfeeding in public or when we have visitors. Does she need to feed the baby when other people are there?

Breastfeeding Welcome here logoBabies need to feed often and should be breastfed in a responsive way. That means they can be offered the breast for food and comfort and so they will feed when they want and for as long as they need to. Some feeds might be a few hours apart and some feeds will be one on top of the other. On average babies feed 8 to 10 times a day. So it is very likely that your baby will need feeding when others are around. It is quite easy to breastfeed and not show anything; it can just look as if the baby is having a cuddle.

If your baby needs to be fed while you are out you can help by finding a nice quiet area and helping your partner feel comfortable. The 'Breastfeeding welcome here scheme' has identified places throughout Northern Ireland where breastfeeding is welcome.

Will breastfeeding affect our sex life?

You can both still enjoy an active sex life while breastfeeding. It can be difficult to find the time and energy when you are new parents, and it does help to plan ahead a bit. It’s always a good idea to make sure the baby has just had a feed. That way you are less likely to be disturbed by a crying baby and your partner will be more comfortable. You should also remember that her breasts will tend to be more sensitive while breastfeeding.