8 Common Breastfeeding Questions

Mom and baby doing side-lying breastfeeding

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Q. Can I nurse if I wasn't able to (didn't choose to) nurse my previous children?

A. Absolutely. Nursing previous children is not a requirement to breastfeeding this baby. While prior experience can be helpful, it certainly isn't necessary. Your breasts will produce milk with this pregnancy and baby, as it will with every pregnancy and baby, even if you took medications before to dry up your milk. Education and preparation are helpful, though not required.

I do find that moms who have had a breastfeeding class or read a book or two do seem to have a head start in nursing their children. Many hospitals and birth centers offer free classes and have staff lactation consultants. Be sure to ask for a visit before you leave the hospital or birth center, even if you think everything is going well. There are also private lactation consultants and La Leche League International, a non-profit support group teaching and supporting breastfeeding women.

Q. How will I know how much breast milk my child is getting?

A. Breastfed babies have signs that they are growing and getting enough breast milk. These include counting diapers to ensure that they are wetting between 6-8 diapers a day and counting stools, which will vary depending on your child's age and whether or not they are eating solids.

Your pediatrician will also ask you about your child's development milestones and weight pattern. New breastfeeding weight charts are out, so be sure that your child is being listed on these at your well child visits.
More: Is my baby getting enough milk?

Q. Can I breastfeed if I have small breasts? Large breasts?

A. Breast size is not a factor in how much milk is produced. Small-breasted women are able to nurse without any problems. A recent study did show that large breasted women had a more difficult time getting the baby to latch on the nipple, but this is an easy problem to correct, particularly with a bit of professional guidance.

Q. Can I nurse if I have implants? Breast reduction?

A. This will depend on if any of the milk ducts were disturbed when placing implants or doing a reduction. Newer surgery techniques work hard at trying to preserve the breast tissue to make breastfeeding possible. Ask for a copy of your surgical report and try to ask your surgeon if you didn't ask at the time of your surgery. Seeing a lactation consultant prior to birth can also be very helpful.
More: More Breastfeeding Myths

Q. Can I breastfeed while taking medications?

A. This really depends on the medication. There are many medications that we consider safe to be taken while breastfeeding. There are also some that are not considered safe at all, though there are alternatives to these medications. Talk to your prescribing doctor and your pediatrician to find a specific answer for you and your medications.

Most progesterone based birth control methods, like some oral contraceptives, Depo-Provera, etc. are considered acceptable while nursing. There are also antidepressants that can be used while nursing. Good communication between your care providers is the key.

Q. Can I pump and just give breast milk from a bottle?

A. Absolutely. In fact, there are a growing number of women who are choosing to exclusively pump breast milk for one reason or another. This works well for infants who are medically unable to nurse from the breast or for those mothers who simply choose not to breastfeed, but want their child to have the benefits of breast milk.

Q. What kind of pump should I get?

A. That really depends on what you need it for. In general, if you are not going to use your pump very often a small hand held or even hand expression of milk will work just fine. There are also electric, double pumps available for more frequent or faster pumping. A lactation consultant or breastfeeding class can also help you make this determination.

Q. Where do I go if I need help?

A. Contact the place you gave birth, La Leche League, local lactation consultants, etc. Help is available.

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