Common Breastfeeding Questions
Breastfeeding can take time and practice to perfect, just like any new skill, and it’s not uncommon for new mothers to experience breastfeeding problems or have questions around the topic. Here at Aptaclub we have put together a useful list of frequently asked questions and their answers to help!
Can I take ibuprofen while I'm breastfeeding?
Yes, you can take ibuprofen while breastfeeding. The amount of ibuprofen which enters your breastmilk is very small1. There are some conditions e.g. stomach ulcer which mean you should not take ibuprofen, and in these cases you should still avoid ibuprofen when breastfeeding. Please speak to your health care professional if you have concerns or are taking a branded version which may contain another drug not suitable to consume while breastfeeding.
Can I breastfeed with breast implants?
You can breastfeed with breast implants2. It can be more common to have issues such as latching on difficulties and nipple pain, but that is completely different from person to person on the type and size of your breast implant. So don't let having breast implants stop you from trying, as breastfeeding has so many benefits for you and your baby!
Will I get my period while I'm breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a hormone controlled process in the body. So, the hormones produced while breastfeeding might stop you from getting your period while exclusively breastfeeding. Once you stop breastfeeding exclusively your period should return after 5/6 weeks3.
How many calories does breastfeeding burn?
Breastfeeding burns an extra 200-500 calories a day4. It is important to ensure you are getting enough calories and all your nutrients from your healthy breastfeeding diet, as your baby gets all their nutrients from your stores.
Can I take paracetamol while I'm breastfeeding?
Yes, you can take paracetamol while breastfeeding. It is best to take it for a short time period as it enters your breastmilk5. Please speak to your health care professional and read the instructions clearly inside the packet. If you are taking a branded version which may contain another drug not suitable to consume while breastfeeding.
Contraceptive choices while breastfeeding
Please discuss your contraception options with your midwife/health visitor or GP, as these are important to have thought about soon after birth.
While breastfeeding, you can use male/female condoms, the progesterone only ('mini' pill), the contraceptive implant or the contraceptive injection6. The combined pill, vaginal ring and contraceptive pouch, should not be used as there are increased risks of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other health conditions using these while breastfeeding6.
Some mothers use breastfeeding as a form of contraception, however it is very important to make sure to consider other options once your baby is 6 months, if not exclusively breastfeeding (bottle-feeding/expressing milk/ weaning), if your periods start again, or your feeding reduces as this is not an effective form of contraception from this point7.
Can I get pregnant while I'm breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can delay your periods returning, therefore some mothers use breastfeeding as a form of contraception. Many factors affect the reliability of this method, e.g. your baby's age/if you are feeding exclusively or not, and so if you don't want to get pregnant it is important to consider other options. If you are trying to get pregnant this will be more likely once your baby is over 6 months of age and you are no longer exclusively breastfeeding, as your periods should return as normal7.
Can I take antihistamines while I'm breastfeeding?
Antihistamines can enter your breast milk and are thought to not cause side effect for your baby8. However, as they can get into your breast milk it is best to use eye drops and nose sprays or low dose antihistamines. Please contact your health care professional if you have any concerns on breastfeeding while taking antihistamines.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
Breastfeeding is a natural process, which can get take some time to get used to and is different for every mum and baby. Don't be disheartened if it hurts at first as it may get more comfortable as you learn how to feed, and learning how to get your baby to latch on well can help you to reduce nipple pain.
Can I breastfeed when pregnant?
You should still be able to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, as your body will still produce milk9. You will be feeding your unborn baby through your diet, as well as producing milk so make sure your having a healthy breastfeeding diet to get all your nutrients to you, your baby and your unborn baby.
Can I breastfeed with inverted nipples?
Can I breastfeed with a nipple piercing?
It is not advised to feed from a nipple with a piercing in place, as the nipple piercing is a choking hazard for your baby. It is also not recommended to breastfeed if you have recently had your nipple pierced as it is more likely to cause an infection11. However, if you remove the piercing and have not had the piercing recently then it is completely safe to breast feed.
Can I take antibiotics while I'm breastfeeding?
Yes, you can taken antibiotics while breastfeeding12. Please speak to your health care professional if you have concerns and mention you are breastfeeding when prescribed antibiotics and your doctor can best advise you.
I have big nipples after breastfeeding
Changes to nipples can occur while breastfeeding. Sore nipples are a common breastfeeding problem; this may be due to your baby not latching on properly or being in the wrong position. Read our guide on breastfeeding positions for advice on how to adapt your feeding position for your comfort
Can I have sex when I'm breastfeeding?
You can experience changes in your libido or sex life during breastfeeding, and this can change dependent on mother to mother. Some may experience increased sex drive, whereas others may experience vaginal dryness or breast pain during sex. It is best to take it slow and discuss any discomfort with your partner. You can also seek advice from a health visitor/mid wife or sexual health advisor13.
Can I breastfeed when I have a cold?
Yes, you can breastfeed with a cold. Breastfeeding acts as a protective nature for many diseases and helps to protect your baby while they have a less mature immune system14. Your virus cannot be passed in your breast milk, but the closer contact or you and your baby during breastfeeding can increase the chances of them getting your cold, but it is more protective than risky in most cases15. If you are ill and concerned about breastfeeding please contact a healthcare professional.
How do I breastfeed a sleepy baby?
You need to ensure your baby is feeding often (about 10 times in 24 hours)16. It is important to make sure your baby is getting enough food, so you may need to wake your baby up to feed. Make sure they are latched on correctly as they may fall asleep again if not feeding correctly. Expressing milk and feeding at night may also be helpful if they are struggling to latch on. Make sure you feed milk you have expressed at night, as your milk changes throughout the day and your evening milk will contain factors which will help your baby get back to sleep17.
How do I breastfeed at night?
You should aim to ensure your baby is feeding often (about 10 times in 24 hours)16. It is important to make sure your baby is getting enough food, so you may need to wake your baby up to feed. Make sure they are latched on correctly as they may fall asleep again if not feeding correctly. Expressing milk and feeding at night may also be helpful if they are struggling to latch on. Try to feed milk you have expressed at night, as your milk changes throughout the day and your evening milk will contain factors which may help your baby get back to sleep17.
Can I get a tattoo while I'm breastfeeding?
It is best to wait until you stop breastfeeding to get to a tattoo. There are no major risks directly associated with getting a tattoo when breastfeeding, however you are more likely to get an infection or there is a small chance of the metals and chemicals used in the tattoo ink entering your breast milk18.
Is there lactose in breast milk?
Can babies be allergic to breast milk?
If you are concerned your baby is allergic to your breast milk please speak to a healthcare professional immediately. Although very rare, babies can be allergic to a component of your breast milk. For example, some babies are allergic to cow's milk and therefore react to the cow's milk protein in your breast milk. In this case you would need to remove all dairy from your diet to stop your baby have an allergic reaction to your breast milk20.
When should I stop breastfeeding?
It is best to continue breastfeeding for as long as you can. There is no time you need to stop, but WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and then should be continued with complementary foods up to the age of two years or beyond21.
Can I take antidepressants while I'm breastfeeding?
Some antidepressants are safe to take while breastfeeding as they don’t enter your milk, whereas others are not. Please speak to your healthcare professional who prescribed you the medication to see if you can breastfeed. There may be other treatment options for depression which can be given to allow you to continue breastfeeding22.
Can I eat pate while I'm breastfeeding?
You should avoid pate while pregnant as it can cause toxoplasmosis, which is an infection which will harm your unborn baby. You should be fine eating pate while breastfeeding, but it is best to avoid homemade pates during breastfeeding as they are more likely to contain bacteria which could harm your baby23.
Can I overfeed my baby while breastfeeding?
Once your baby is full they will take themselves off the breast. Some babies will naturally take a break during a feed, so it’s always a good idea to wait a while to see if they’re just resting or if they’re actually full24.
What are the side effects of stopping breastfeeding?
If you are thinking of stopping breastfeeding due to breastfeeding problems, please read our guide on how to overcome these issues, as it may be possible to solve these issues and continue feeding. Some symptoms of stopping breastfeeding include sore breasts, breasts leaking milk, mood changes25.
Can breast milk come back after drying up?
Many people believe they have run out of milk but actually still have time to bring back full supply via slowly increasing your milk supply. Read our guide on tips on how to increase milk supply if you are concerned about your milk supply.
Does breastfeeding make you tired?
It is common to feel tired with a newborn, but evidence shows that fatigue is similar in those bottle-feeding their babies, and so it is unlikely the breastfeeding it causing your tiredness26. Making sure you are eating the correct diet, drinking lots of water and feeding in a comfortable position can help to reduce your fatigue and discomfort.
When will I get my first period after breastfeeding?
Once you stop breastfeeding exclusively your period should return after 5/6 weeks3. Breastfeeding is a hormone controlled process in the body. So, the hormones produced while breastfeeding might stop you from getting your period while exclusively breastfeeding.
What should I wear when I'm breastfeeding?
Wearing comfortable clothes is the most important thing to do while breastfeeding, as the more comfortable you are the easier it will be. It may also be helpful to buy nursing/breastfeeding bras, which help to breastfeed easily by unhooking to open fully allowing easy feeding.
Can I breastfeed my baby while I'm on the pill?
While breastfeeding, you can use the progesterone only ('mini' pill)6. The combined pill should not be used as there are increased risks of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other health conditions using these while breastfeeding6. Please discuss your contraception options with your midwife/health visitor or GP, as these are important to have thought about soon after birth.
What's the best way to breastfeed after a c section?
Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?
Breastfeeding can help you to lose your baby weight as it burns an extra 200-500 calories a day4. Make sure you are getting all your nutrients from your healthy breastfeeding diet, as your baby gets all their nutrients from your stores.
Can I drink lemsip while breastfeeding?
Phenylephrine is in lemsip and can enter your breast milk, so it is best to avoid drinking lemsip while breastfeeding28. Please contact a healthcare professional if you have cold/flu symptoms while breastfeeding and they can advise you on how best to treat your symptoms.
When does breast milk start to get produced?
Your body is getting ready to produce breast milk near the end of your pregnancy before you give birth and then the hormone changes when giving birth trigger milk to start being produced and secreted, by a supply and demand hormone system, where prolactin triggers milk production and oxytocin trigger milk secretion.
Does eating too much sugar affect my breast milk?
Can I breastfeed with small breasts?
The size of breasts does not relate to if you can breastfeed or how much milk you produce. The size of your breasts may make a difference to the best position you require to breastfeed. But the more time you spend in close contact with your baby practicing which position works best, the more you’ll get to know and understand each other’s signals.
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- La Leche League GB. (2020). Sleepy Baby – Why And What To Do - La Leche League GB. [online] Available at: https://www.laleche.org.uk/sleepy-baby-why-and-what-to-do/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020].
- White, R. Breastfeed Med, 2017;12(7):398-400.
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- WHO. The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: report of an expert consultation, 2015.
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Last reviewed: 16th April 2020
Reviewed by Nutricia's Medical and Scientific Affairs Team
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