Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have the occasional alcohol-based drink when I am breastfeeding?

Good planning would allow most women to have the occasional drink but it depends on timing, the age of the baby and the amount of alcohol and whether or not you will be eating food. Here are some useful guidelines to help you plan ahead for special occasions.

Timing, your weight and amount of alcohol - it is best to consume alcohol after you have breastfed your baby and the amount of time it takes to metabolize an alcoholic drink depends on your weight. For example, one 12 oz beer would take a women weighing 140 pounds 2 hours and 19 minutes to leave her bloodstream and breast milk. A chart to guide the clearance of alcohol from breast milk can be found on this website:

Baby's age. After 3 months, a baby is better able to metabolize any alcohol that might still be in breast milk if the timing of an alcohol drink has not been cleared (see the time it takes to metabolize an alcoholic drink).

You can store expressed breast milk beforehand (to help prevent engorgement) or choose to wait until the alcohol has cleared your system. Or, try a non-alcoholic beverage instead such as a mocktail.

If I decide to stop breastfeeding, can I start again after?

The answer is: it depends. If you are no longer producing any milk at all, then the answer is no. However, if your milk supply has decreased due to infrequent feedings, then the answer is probably.

Your body produces milk in response to the demand for milk, so if you have not been breastfeeding/pumping or are decreasing the frequency of feeds, then you may notice that you are producing less milk. The opposite is also true, if you start to feed more often, then your body will start to produce more milk.

If you stopped breastfeeding, but want to start again (providing you are still producing milk), that is great news! What you need to be aware of is that your milk supply may not be enough for baby at the beginning and you may need to use a lactation supplement to make sure your baby is getting enough. It is also a great idea to have your baby breastfeed as often as possible to keep stimulating your breast. It is a good idea in this case to ask your doctor to refer you to a lactation consultant to help you re-establish your milk supply and to make sure that baby is getting enough nutrition.

If I don't want to breastfeed after I leave the hospital, it is still worth it for me to breastfeed while I'm still at the hospital for the first few days?

Definitely yes! Even though we recommend that babies breastfeed for at least the first 6 months to get all the health benefits, giving your baby breast milk for any amount of time is beneficial! During the first week, your breast milk is called colostrum which has many health benefits for your baby! Colostrum contains antibodies which help fight infections, healthy fats and protein to help your baby grow, and vitamin K which helps to protect your baby from bleeding.

When should I introduce solid foods?

Your baby does not need any food or drinks while they are exclusively being breastfed for the first 6 months. Once your baby is able to sit up with support, is reaching for your food when you're eating, or is still hungry after breastfeeding on both breasts, he or she is may be ready to start solids. This is at about 6 months. Starting solids too early is not recommended because your baby may not get enough nutrition, cause your baby's tummy to be upset, and your baby's risk of getting allergies is increased.

Should I use nipple shields?

Nipple shields are usually recommended to help a baby who is refusing to take the breast or for sore nipples. However, using nipple shields can cause other problems such decreased milk supply because of decreased stimulation of the breast. Nipple shields should be used as a last resort. If you have questions about using nipple shields or want to use them, contact a health professional.

If you are having problems with sore nipples, chances are that your baby is not latching on properly. With a properly latch you will probably find that the sore nipples will go away.

Does my baby need anything else to eat or drink while they are breastfeeding?

No! Your breast milk provides all the nutrition and fluids your baby needs when you are exclusively breastfeeding. Therefore, your baby does not need anything else to eat or drink. The only thing you need to give your baby is 400 IU of vitamin D drops from May - September and 800 IU of vitamin D from October to April.