International Breastfeeding Week Special: Tips from a Lactation Consultant, Valerie Ng of

Breastfeeding, Expert Chat -

International Breastfeeding Week Special: Tips from a Lactation Consultant, Valerie Ng of

1- I have never breastfed, but I’ve heard it’s extremely painful. What helps ease the pain? Are there any tips or techniques that can ensure less pain in the beginning?

Latch should be relatively painless. On a pain scale of 1-10, a rating above 4 needs to be investigated. Pain rating can also change rapidly during latch, intensifying pain would indicate shifts during latch.
Baby should be in a head-tilt-chin-lift posture for a good latch. This will ensure that chin is touching breast and baby’s lower lips cover more areola to facilitate wave-like tongue movements to stimulate milk ejection reflex and ease of swallowing. Cross cradle hold allows better support than cradle hold in the early days, plus mums often cradle babies too high which can cause pain since baby’s tongue will be compressing nipple. 


2 - How long should I feed on each breast? 

In the early days, mothers should feed on both breasts at every session to stimulate production. As a general guide, switch breast every 15 minutes, taking the chance to burp or wake baby in between. Newborns can feed at least 8 or more feeds in the early days, up to an hour session each. Once supply meets baby’s consumption, feeding duration can vary between a few minutes to 30 minutes. For feeds beyond 30 minutes, it will be helpful to differentiate comfort sucking and short bursts of milk transfer.

3 - How do I know if baby is getting a sufficient amount of breastmilk? My supply is low when I pump.

A combination of latch and pump is common among mothers building supply. Considering a mother who manually expressed 20ml after latching, it would be excess milk if baby is satisfied and able to settle, but low if an additional 70ml of formula was given.  

Therefore supply is always compared to baby’s demand, comparing daily yield and intake will provide a more accurate picture. A full month baby takes an average amount of 800ml per day, varied between 500+ml to 1plus litres per day. Some mothers take several weeks to build their supply.

For mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding, what goes in comes out, as long as baby is producing sufficient poop and pee, looks satisfied after a feed (need not be sleeping) and doesn’t cry excessively. 

For mothers who supplemented formula, the amount of formula given in a day would be the gap between demand and supply. To meet baby’s demand, the goal is to close the gap for amount of formula used per day. Mother who supplemented with expressed breast milk are considered to meet baby’s demand.

4 - How do I deal with excess milk?

Excess milk can be kept in fridge up to 48 hours (recommended guideline to suit Singapore climate but does not mean milk cannot be used beyond that) and used in a first-in-first-out manner. Breastmilk can be kept chilled up to 24 hours before freezing. So mothers can put aside 2 days worth of intake and freeze excess in the first month. If daily supply exceeds daily intake by one month, it will be good to regulate supply accordingly as oversupply (200ml or more per day) will predispose mother to the development of mastitis. 

5 - What’s best way to treat mastitis?

For mothers with mild symptoms of mastitis, effective milk removal, adequate rest, fluids, and nutrition would suffice. If symptoms did not improve in 24 hours, mothers would have to see a doctor and may be required to go through antibiotic treatment. 


About Valerie

Valerie has been in private practice since 2011. Her passion for working with breastfeeding mums stems from her personal regret of weaning prematurely. This regret became a strong motivation that fuels what she does.

She is currently pursuing her psychology degree and strives to combine lactation with psychology. Adopting a holistic approach, she inspires mothers to become stronger and to be in control to face any challenges that will come their way. 

If you are embarking on or need some support on your breastfeeding journey, you can reach out to Valerie at

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