Breastfeeding and lactation

Learning to feed your baby is a skill developed through patience and practice. For some women, breastfeeding may be more difficult especially if there are health reasons for you or your baby. In addition to the support resources shared here, we have certified lactation consultants that can answer your questions and support you throughout your experience at Gritman and after your baby is home.

Breastfeeding support classes are offered for new moms and those looking for a refresher on breastfeeding. Please contact Gritman Family Birth Center at 208-883-2289 | [email protected] for current class openings.

Breastfeeding graphic


lactation graphic


Lactation describes the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young. A lactation consultant or specialist is often a nurse who has been trained to teach and advise women about breastfeeding. Lactation consultants may be associated with birth units in hospitals.

Lactation consultants are often most helpful for women who:

  • Have never breastfed before.
  • Have had previous problems breastfeeding.
  • Have a chronic health problem, such as diabetes.

Q&A with Becky Behre, RNC, IBCLC

Our Gritman Lactation Consultant answers questions most frequently asked.

What are some of the advantages to breastfeeding my baby?

There are many more advantages to breastfeeding than I can list, but here are a few.

  • The health benefits of breastfeeding have been undisputed for centuries.
  • Recipes for artificial baby milk have been refined over the years based on the ideal of Mother’s milk, however, human milk is “species specific”:
    especially designed by the Mother’s body for her baby.
  • Hundreds of studies have proven that baby’s who are breastfed or are given human milk have a healthier digestive tract, better immune system, fewer ear infections, fewer colds and have improved brain development to name a few.
  • Environmentally, breastmilk has the advantage because there is no waste/pollutants produced in the manufacturing process, no trucks required to transport, and no packaging to discard.
  • Economically, it costs $1200-$1500 for a years worth of baby formula (according to the surgeon general)(That’s the cost of a nice vacation).
  • Also, there are significantly fewer trips to the Dr’s office, and fewer lost work days required to stay home with a sick child.

Does a mother burn more calories when she breastfeeds?
According to Dr. Ruth Lawrence, breastfeeding requires an extra 500-700 calories per day. This is equivalent to a fast food burger, a homemade sandwich and a glass of milk, or 5-6 homemade chocolate chip cookies, to name some of my favorites.

How long should I breastfeed my baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months then to continue for at least a full year adding complementary foods. The World Health Organization recommends 2 years. Any breastfeeding you can do is helpful for baby though, even if it’s only a few feedings.

Can I still breastfeed if I have to go back to school/work?
Yes you can. Breast pumps have improved greatly over the last 30 years and insurances are obligated to cover the cost of your breast pump. If you start pumping once a day early on and at the same time, your body will make a bit more milk and you will be able to “stockpile” it for when you return to work. Talk to your employer well before you return to work to arrange time/place to use your pump. Usually employers are happy to facilitate this process when they realize it means a healthier mom and baby and less lost work days due to a sick little one.

My Mom said she couldn't breastfeed because she didn't make enough milk. Will the same thing happen to me?
If your mom was not able to breastfeed, there are an infinite number of reasons this may have happened, most of which have nothing to do with you.

There is much more breastfeeding support now than when you were a baby, and there is now an emphasis in “Nursing early and nursing often” which facilitates milk production both in the short and long term. Baby’s weight will be checked frequently at first and if there are any concerns, a lactation specialist can help you with any breastfeeding issues before they are a problem.

I once took care of an Italian gentleman in his 90’s who noticed on my nametag that I was an IBCLC. He asked what that was and when I explained he said that breastfeeding is a most wonderful thing. It is always at the right temperature, it is mixed just right, and it comes in beautiful packages.

breast pump and mother with bottle nursing baby

Pumping breastmilk

Why use a breast pump? Using a breast pump is a good way to provide the benefits of breastfeeding when you have to be away from your baby. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply. It also prevents the discomfort of your breasts getting too full of milk.

You can also use a breast pump to slowly reduce your milk supply if you have to stop breastfeeding.

How to use a breast pump Pumping milk with a breast pump will probably take 10 to 20 minutes for each breast, but it may take longer. To keep your milk supply up, try to pump at least every 3 to 4 hours, and breastfeed as often as you can.

Health and Education Resources

This content is being presented for informative purposes only. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. See more on breastfeeding


How can breastfeeding benefit you and your baby?

How can you care for yourself while breastfeeding?

How can I plan ahead for breastfeeding?

How often should you breastfeed?

When should I call my doctor?

What should you know about your first feeding when you are breastfeeding?


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Caring for Your Newborn:Feeding

Breastfeeding: Getting Your Baby to Latch

Contact Family Birth Center