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Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding

I don’t always eat right. Should I breastfeed?

There is no special diet for breastfeeding mothers. Moms will make enough milk even if they don’t always eat healthy. Try to use the Food Guide Pyramid and eat a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and meats or meat substitutes. Caffeine — found in colas, coffee, teas, energy drinks and chocolate — can cause your baby to be fussy. Additionally, caffeine can affect your milk supply. As a result, it may be a good idea to limit caffeinated beverages to 1 to 2 cups a day or use decaffeinated beverages. Drink water, milk or 100% juice when you are thirsty. Consult the "Nutrition While Breastfeeding" tab on our site for specific nutrition recommendations while nursing.

Can I breastfeed if I smoke?

If you smoke, the best thing for you, your baby and your family is to try your hardest to quit. If you cannot quit, breastfeeding is still best for you and your baby, as the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of smoking. Breastfeed before you smoke to limit the amount of nicotine that enters your milk, and try to limit the number of cigarettes smoked to fewer than 10 per day. Because second-hand smoke can increase the risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), no one should smoke inside your home or around your baby.

Can I give my baby a pacifier or bottle while breastfeeding?

During the early days and weeks of breastfeeding, it is important to let your baby do plenty of practicing to perfect the skill of nursing. Babies can become easily confused by artificial nipples and giving one too early may cause “nipple confusion,” and decide that a bottle is a quicker way to get food. Some babies transition well and easily from breast to bottle. Ideally, bottle and pacifier use should be prolonged until nursing is well established. If your doctor determines that supplementation is needed, this supplementation can be done without using artificial nipples. For more information on this, contact your local lactation specialist!

Can I drink alcohol and breastfeed?

Small amounts of alcohol (1 or 2 drinks) now and then are thought to be safe when breastfeeding. However, alcohol does have a greater effect on babies less than 3 months old. Drinking a lot of alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day) or drinking often can affect your ability to care for your baby, affect your milk production and can affect your baby’s ability to walk and crawl. To lessen alcohol’s effect on you and your baby, have no more than 1 or 2 drinks per week, and don’t breastfeed for 2 hours after drinking.

What if I get sick or need to take medication?

Mother’s milk is made to fight the diseases that their babies are exposed to. Continue breastfeeding if you are sick. Frequent handwashing and avoiding coughing/sneezing while nursing baby or during times of baby care is important.