Frequently Asked Questions

Institutes & Services > Women's Services

Q. What Is a Growth Spurt?

A growth spurt is a time of rapid growth for your baby. In order to increase your milk production to meet his growing needs, your baby will feed more frequently. Growth spurts usually occur around the first few days at home. They may also occur around 3 and 6 weeks, and again around 3 and 6 months. These are averages. All babies are different. You will know your baby is having a growth spurt if he is eating more frequently, and it may last 3-4 days. Babies usually return to the same breastfeeding routine as before once mom’s milk production has increased.

Q. Should I Supplement with Formula?

A healthy term newborn should not need any extra formula supplement in addition to your breast milk. If your baby is breastfeeding well 8-12 times a day, meeting his daily goals for urines and stools, is satisfied after breastfeeding, and gaining weight appropriately your breast milk is should be enough (see Essentials of Breastfeeding and Pumping: Signs of effective feeding). If you are concerned that your baby is not getting enough when breastfeeding, call your baby’s doctor and the TriHealth Breastfeeding Care Center for assistance (513 862 7867, option 3).

Q. Should I Give My Baby a Pacifier?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting a month before introducing a pacifier to a newborn. This will allow your baby to learn how to breastfeed well before introducing a different kind of sucking. Some babies are not breastfeeding enough and weight gain is not good if using a pacifier.

Q. Does My Baby Need Water, Juice, Cereal, or Baby Food?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that baby only needs your breast milk for the first 6 months of life.  During the second 6 months, solid food can be introduced but breastfeeding is still more nutritious and should be baby’s primary source of food.

Babies are able to take in and swallow solid foods, such as cereal and pureed baby foods, closer to 6 months. Giving solid foods too early may cause baby to not want as much breast milk. Your milk production may go down. This is also true for water and juice. Your breast milk is more nutritious and is all baby needs.

Q. Is My Baby Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Talk with your doctor about your baby’s requirement for vitamin D.

Q. What Should I Eat and Drink When Breastfeeding?

Eating a perfect diet is not necessary for making enough milk; however a new mom will feel better when eating a good diet.  Breastfeeding mothers can eat most foods without worrying that “gassy” or “spicy” foods will bother their baby.  There is no need to limit foods unless baby consistently becomes fussy within a few hours after mother eats that food. If mother’s or father’s family has a history of allergies, baby may have sensitivity to certain foods that pass through breast milk.

Avoid processed foods and foods with transfats (“bad fats”) since your milk will have more of those fats in it.  Eating “good fats”, such as foods with olive oil and avocado, will pass those fats to your baby.

You may need more protein, calcium, and 500 extra calories per day when you breastfeed. Often, the prenatal vitamin that you took during your pregnancy will help you meet the vitamin and mineral needs of breastfeeding. Ask you health care provider about continuing a vitamin.

Yes, you can eat sushi when breastfeeding if it is fresh and from a reputable source. Breastfeeding women may want to limit intake of certain fish including shark, swordfish, tilefish, and mackerel due to having higher levels of mercury.

Drink enough water or juice to quench your thirst.  You don’t have to drink a lot of fluid to make milk. There is no set amount to drink. You are getting enough fluid if your urine is pale yellow. If it is dark yellow, you need more fluid. If your urine is clear like water, you are getting too much fluid.

Breastfeeding mothers can drink 1-2 cups of caffeinated beverages a day as long as baby is not fussy or have trouble sleeping. This can be coffee, tea, or soda. The high caffeine level in energy drinks can be a concern when you are breastfeeding. In addition to fussiness and difficulty sleeping, the high level of caffeine in an energy drink may cause baby to have a high heart rate. According to studies high levels of caffeine found in energy drinks may be more difficult for younger babies to metabolize and it stays in their body longer. Breastfeeding mothers should be cautious about drinking high energy drinks if their baby shows signs of being sensitive to caffeine and particularly if baby has gastroesophageal reflux or irregular heart rhythm.

Q. Can I Diet While Breastfeeding?

Many women are hungrier and thirstier since making milk burns up to 500 calories a day. Some women find that they lose weight while breastfeeding and others do not. Studies show that you safely breastfeed and lose weight if a mother waits 6-8 weeks to begin dieting so that her body can recover from pregnancy and birth.  Breastfeeding mothers need to eat at least 1500-1800 calories per day in order to continue making enough milk when dieting.  Weight loss should be limited to 1.5 pounds per week.
Is it safe to smoke while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding and mother’s milk are better for a baby than formula, even if a mother smokes cigarettes or uses other forms of tobacco. Because the harmful chemicals in tobacco pass quickly into mother’s milk and are at higher levels immediately after using tobacco products, a mother should breastfeed first
then go outside to smoke. This allows time for harmful chemicals to drop before the baby’s next feeding.

The more a mother smokes, the more difficult it will be to keep low levels in the milk. When a mother smokes too much, it may cause a baby to become fussier, and milk production may decrease. Also, the amount of fat and certain vitamins may decrease, so a baby may not gain weight properly. No matter how a baby is fed, exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful. No one should ever smoke inside the home or near a baby or child. Babies and children having one or both parents who smoke are much more likely to suffer from ear infections, colds and lung problems, are more at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and are more likely to become smokers as teens and adults. For help or information about smoking cessation programs, speak with a lactation consultant or your health care provider.

Q. Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

Alcohol passes into mother’s milk, and drinking too much or drinking too quickly can be harmful if a mother becomes intoxicated and a baby continues to breastfeed. (An intoxicated parent cannot safely care for a baby no matter how that baby is fed.) Drinking one or two alcoholic beverages over several hours is not usually a problem; however, talk to your doctor or your baby’s health care provider about when it may be better to “pump and dump,” and for how long to do it, if concerned about alcohol intake during breastfeeding.

Q. Is It Safe to Use Medications When Breastfeeding?

Most medications, over-the-counter (OTC), prescription and illegal or street drugs enter the milk in some amount. However, the amount that passes into milk varies a lot, and its presence in the milk does not mean the baby’s body will absorb it. When a health care professional recommends weaning or pumping-and dumping because a mother needs to take a medication, weigh the baby’s risks of not receiving the disease-fighting properties in mother’s milk with a possible risk from the particular medication.
Also, for most health conditions there are medications that can be taken while a mother continues to breastfeed or pump her milk. If you must take medication, remind your doctor that you are breastfeeding or pumping for your baby.

For any questions or concerns about a medication, talk to the baby’s pediatric care provider and a lactation consultant.

Most illegal substances, or street drugs, pass easily and quickly into mother’s milk, and most are absorbed by the baby in amounts that can be harmful. These drugs should be avoided at all times.

Not only can they hurt a baby through the milk, but also a mother cannot take good care of a baby or young child when taking such drugs.

Q. When Should I Wean My Baby?

Weaning is a process – not an event – and it begins the first time a baby receives something other than his mother’s milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first 6 months with continued breastfeeding for at least 1 year and longer based on what baby and mother want. (The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding along with other foods for at least 2 years.) At some point around 6 months, a baby lets his mother know that he is ready to experiment with a small amount of solid food. Mother’s milk remains the baby’s major source of nutrition during the first year as more foods are gradually added to the baby’s diet. Breastfeeding can continue long after baby’s first birthday – it can continue for as long as it is right for you, your baby and the family. Mother’s milk continues to provide important nutrients and disease-fighting properties through toddler years. When weaning occurs more slowly, it is more comfortable physically and emotionally for mother and baby. The baby or toddler may set the pace of weaning, mother may do it, or it may be a bit of both. There are no rules for this process!

Breastfeeding Twins or Multiples: Can I Breastfeed More than One Baby?

You might be asking yourself “Can I breastfeed more than one baby?” Yes you can! Whether you have twins, triplets, or more it can be done. Many mothers breastfeed multiples exclusively while others choose to combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding or pumping their milk and bottle feeding. Whatever option you choose the lactation consultant will help you devise a care plan that is right for you and your babies.

When breastfeeding multiples, each baby will feed on one breast during a feeding session.  It is suggested that mom breastfeed one baby on the same breast for all feedings that day. The other baby will breastfeed on the other breast for all feedings that day. Switch babies to the other breast for feedings the next day. This allows you to make the right amount of milk on each side. When you have triplets, you will feed two of the babies as described above. The third baby will breastfeed on both breasts afterwards. Babies will switch the feeding order each day. It may seem difficult but over time you will be able to feed multiple babies and you will develop a routine. Pillows are often helpful. There are several positions for feeding multiples the lactation consultant can assist you in learning them. If you have any questions, call the TriHealth Breastfeeding Care Center (513 862 7867, option 3) to talk with a lactation consultant. Our lactation consultants have many years of experience assisting mothers of multiples reach their breastfeeding goals.

What if I Have a Breastfeeding Question or Concern that is Not Covered Here?

Call the TriHealth Breastfeeding Care Center (513 862 7867, option 3) for questions or concerns. For any medical issues, also call your baby’s health care provider and/or yours as well. Our experienced lactation consultants are available to assist you.

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