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Perfecting the Dance of Breastfeeding: Answers to 3 Common Questions

August 04, 2023

Breastfeeding is a lot like learning a dance. It comes easier for newborns but is a new skill for parents. Although initially daunting, much like learning a new dance, you can find your rhythm gradually with patience and practice.

Breastfeeding is not a one-person job. Your family and friends can help at home and ensure you stay healthy, while health care professionals can provide breastfeeding guidance. Read on for answers to common breastfeeding questions to help you start your breastfeeding journey.

How does breastfeeding benefit me and my baby?

There are numerous breastfeeding advantages for both parents and baby, including: 

  • Optimal nutrition. Human milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals needed for a baby’s growth and development. Breastfed children are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to having diabetes later in life.
  • Protection from illnesses. It supports the baby's immune system, helping the newborn fight infections. Human milk is rich in antibodies that help shield infants from ear infections, diarrhea, and stomach issues. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 
  • Reduced risk of chronic conditions. Breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are less common among people who breastfeed. Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of hormones that help the uterus return to its normal size, minimizing postpartum bleeding problems.
  • Convenience. The temperature of human milk is ideal and does not require preparation or sterilization. This means babies can be fed anytime, anywhere, without the need to mix formula or sterilize bottles. Human milk is also easier to digest than formula and is especially handy when traveling, as it can soothe babies when their routines are disrupted.

How should I store human milk?

Whether you plan to return to work or want your partner to help with feedings, knowing how to pump and store your human milk safely will go a long way. 

A handy rule of thumb for milk storage is the "rule of 4s": 4 hours at room temperature and 4 days in the fridge. Human milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months but should be used within 24 hours after defrosting it. Here are more tips for storing human milk safely:

  • Use clean containers: Use bottles or storage bags designed for human milk. Clean and sterilize them before each use.
  • Label and date: Always label each container with the date the milk was expressed. Doing so will help you remember to use the oldest milk first.
  • Refrigerate it: Place the milk in the back of the refrigerator where it’s coldest if you plan to use it within four days.
  • Freeze it: Freeze the human milk only if you plan to use it within the next six months. Use freezer-safe bags or containers and leave some space at the top as the milk expands when frozen. Store it in the coldest part of the freezer. To thaw frozen milk, hold the frozen bottle or bag under lukewarm running water. You can also thaw it in the refrigerator or in a bowl of warm water.

Can I complement feedings with formula?

Some parents may choose to only feed formula milk to their baby, and other parents may choose to feed their baby both formula and human milk. Your health care provider or lactation consultant can guide you through this decision. Ask them to devise a feeding plan that caters to both your needs and your baby’s.

Just as you would with human milk, you must wash your hands and sanitize bottles before each use. Infant formula comes in different types and requires different preparation. It is important to follow the instructions for proper preparation and storage. 

The takeaway.

As a new parent, you deserve support no matter how you choose to feed your baby. If you decide and are able to breastfeed, remember it isn't a one-person job. You need breastfeeding guidance and help at home. Breastfeeding support is available. Make an appointment with our Certified Lactation Counselors from the WomensCare/Outreach Centers, available Monday through Friday (hours may vary) by calling 702.616.4910 or 702.616.4912, to help make breastfeeding work for you and your baby.



Frequently Asked Questions (

Busted: 14 myths about breastfeeding | UNICEF Parenting

Common Breastfeeding Challenges | WIC Breastfeeding Support (

Breastfeeding is associated with enhanced learning abilities in school-aged children - PMC (

Breastfeeding Benefits Both Baby and Mom | DNPAO | CDC

Storing and Thawing Breast Milk | WIC Breastfeeding Support (