Common Questions and Resources for Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding your baby may feel like one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do. But like many breastfeeding moms will tell you, it isn’t always easy.

From the beginning, you’ll be brimming with a million questions—about sore nipples, latching, plugged ducts, and the age old quandary: “Is my baby getting enough?” But even after you’ve gotten the mechanics of breastfeeding down, even more questions will pop up.

This resource guide will address the common questions that come up once breastfeeding is established, and you are looking for further guidance on your breastfeeding journey.

For example, you might be wondering or have questions about:

  • What your rights are as a working mom
  • What laws are in place to protect you when you breastfeed in public
  • What to do if you encounter a breastfeeding challenge after the newborn phase
  • Whether a particular medicine you want to take is compatible with breastfeeding
  • When to start solids
  • When to wean your baby

And more! We’ve got you covered and will address those questions, and offer trusted resources you can turn to if you have further questions down the road.

Breastfeeding Challenges at Work

These days, the majority of women return to work after having a baby, some within just a few weeks. As a breastfeeding mom, returning to work may be one of the biggest challenges you face.

Yes, you can pump when you are separated from your baby and keep breastfeeding your baby when you are together. But fitting pumping into your busy schedule can be difficult. What’s more, you may be concerned about whether or not your employer will support your need to pump.

What Is My Workplace Required to Provide by Law?

The good news is that the law is on your side here. The federal government passed the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law in 2010. This law is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and guarantees that “hourly wage-earning and some salaried employees” are guaranteed the following rights:

  • Reasonable Time to Pump: Your employer must give you time to pump up to a year after your baby is born. If you use extra break time to pump your milk, however, your employer is not required to pay you extra.
  • A Clean and Private Place to Pump: Your employer must also provide you with a clean and private place to pump your milk. As the law states, this place must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”

What If There Is a Pumping Room But It’s Gross?

The “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law specifically states that the place where you pump milk must not be a bathroom. It must be private, without co-workers or others milling in and out of the room.

Although this room isn’t required to be a room used for the sole purpose of pumping milk, it must be "functional [useable] as a space for expressing breast milk."

It stands to reason, then, that this room should be clean and certainly not disgusting or gross.

If you feel that your rights are being violated under the law, you can start by contacting your human resources department. If that isn’t successful, you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor or your local ACLU (more info on that in our “Resources List” below).

What If There Is No Place to Breastfeed or Pump at Work?

The federal law makes it clear that your workplace must provide this space for you. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. If your workplace has fewer than 50 employees, they maybe be exempt from the law.

As the United States Breastfeeding Committee describes it, to be exempt, your employee needs to show that the law “would impose an undue hardship” or cause “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”

Even in these cases, your individual state may have protections in place to ensure that you will get a proper place to pump. Contact your state or local breastfeeding coalition for more information.

Breastfeeding in Public

One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. No bottles to pack, no formula to prepare.

Yet many mothers don’t feel completely comfortable breastfeeding outside their homes. They wonder if people will notice and how they will contend with judgmental strangers. They may wonder if it’s even legal to breastfeeding out in public.

Can You Legally Breastfeed Everywhere in Public?

The question of the legality of breastfeeding is one that comes up often. Moms often wonder if they will be arrested or reprimanded for nursing their babies in full public view. Thankfully, as of 2018, breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states. That means:

  • You can breastfeed anywhere where you legally are allowed to be—whether it’s a public park, the grocery store, a restaurant, or your local pool.
  • You are not legally required to cover up, though you can if that makes you feel more comfortable.

What Should I Do If My Breastfeeding in Public Rights Are Violated?

These laws are in place to protect you, and you should feel free to breastfeed anytime and anywhere. However, women still get harassed for breastfeeding in public on occasion and are even asked to leave or cover up at stores, restaurants, and other establishments.

This is illegal, and if you feel your rights have been violated, you can contact the ACLU for further guidance.

How Can I Feel More Comfortable Breastfeeding in Public?

Though breastfeeding in public is perfectly legal, many moms still don’t feel comfortable doing it. That’s okay. If you would rather breastfeed with a cover or in a private location, you should feel empowered to do so. However, doing those things isn’t always convenient, and you may find that you can gradually teach yourself to feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public.

Here are some tips:

  • Bring a friend or a spouse who can sit near you the first few times you nurse in public.
  • Do a trial run at home while looking in the mirror. You may find that the view you have of your baby at the breast is a lot more detailed than the view others have as they are looking at you from the outside.
  • Wear layers while breastfeeding in public or try breastfeeding clothing designed for nursing in public. If you wear a tank top under your shirt, you don’t have to bare your midriff and you can generally nurse more discreetly.
  • Be confident! You are legally allowed to do this and breastfeeding a baby is normal and awesome. You can bring a copy of your state’s breastfeeding laws to show anyone who thinks otherwise or who may not know the law.

Common Concerns Past the Newborn Phase

Once you’ve got a comfortable latch and your baby is putting on weight, you might think you’ve got breastfeeding down pat, and have nothing further to worry about.

This is true in many ways—the first few weeks of establishing breastfeeding are often the hardest parts. At the same time, plenty of questions come up as the months progress.

Here are the top questions moms of older babies face, along with some tips:

When Should My Baby Start Solids?

The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months or so. After that, you can start to introduce solids.

But you shouldn’t just go by the calendar when making this decision; it’s best to observe your baby and read their cues. All babies are different, but most babies are ready to start solids:

  • When they can sit up unassisted
  • When they happily accept foods into their mouths
  • When they are able to comfortably gum and swallow the food

What Medication Can I Take While Breastfeeding?

During the course of breastfeeding, there may be times when you need to be on particular medication for illness or another reason. Or, you may need to be on a medication long-term.

Many mothers believe they have to wean if they take medication, but the truth is that most are safe for breastfeeding.

With some exceptions, very little of the medication you take makes it into your breastmilk, and usually will not harm your baby. However, you should check with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant for guidance when you begin taking a new medication. You can also look the medication up on Lactmed, a government-sponsored database of medications and their effects on lactation.

What Do I Do If My Baby Hates Breastfeeding?

It’s very common for older babies to have times they seem to reject breastfeeding. After four months or so, babies are very distractible breastfeeders, and may need to be taken to a dark, quiet room to nurse effectively.

Sometimes babies will have what is called a “nursing strike” where they refuse the breast for a few days or longer. This can be very distressing for moms.

Getting support from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counselor can be very helpful. Almost all babies will go back to the breast after a nursing strike.

What Happened to My Milk Supply?

After the first month or two after birth, you may not be as engorged and you may not be constantly leaking milk between feeds anymore. This is normal, and it simply means that your body has adjusted to breastfeeding.

You are making what your baby needs. As long as you are nursing or pumping frequently and your baby is growing and gaining weight, there is likely no issue with your milk supply.

When Should I Wean?

The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends mothers nurse exclusively for six months, and then for a full year. Breastfeeding beyond a year is normal and beneficial as well and many moms adore nursing their toddlers.

However, how long you nurse is entirely your decision and no one else’s. There are so many factors that go into how long you decide to nurse for, including whether you enjoy it, and how it fits into your lifestyle. Go with your gut on this one.

More Breastfeeding Resources

As you move through the months, you will often need to look up information about breastfeeding and get some quick answers to common questions.

But you don’t want to just trust any resource that comes up in your Google search. It’s important to look toward evidence-based, reliable sources that will give up the most up-to-date information about all things breastfeeding.

Here are our top picks:

AAP Policy On Breastfeeding

This paper, written and updated by the Academy of American Pediatrics, is a “go-to” source for all things breastfeeding and babies.

It answers questions about the benefits of breastfeeding, what to expect in terms of growth and development, maternal diet and medication use, and how long to breastfeed.

Academy Of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM)

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is a worldwide organization comprised of MDs who are dedicated to the promotion and protection of breastfeeding.

ABM offers evidence-based resources on all kinds of breastfeeding questions, from mastitis care protocols to anesthesia use for breastfeeding moms.

ACLU

If you feel that your rights are being violated while breastfeeding at work or in public, contact your local ACLU for referrals and next steps.

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA)

ILCA is the place where you can look up a local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLCs).

IBCLCs are the gold standard in lactation care and you should contact one with any complex (or even simple!) breastfeeding questions or concerns you have.

LactMed

LactMed is a government-sponsored database which lists medications and drugs and gives up-to-date information about their compatibility with breastfeeding.

La Leche League International

La Leche League is one of the oldest and most trusted breastfeeding resource out there. Founded in 1956, during a time when breastfeeding was seldom practiced by moms, La Leche League continues to be a leader in up-to-date resources and compassionate care for breastfeeding moms.

You can visit the site to find a volunteer breastfeeding counselor in your area.

United States Breastfeeding Committee Coalitions Directory

Contact the USBC to look up your local and state breastfeeding coalitions and to learn more about workplace protections.

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Contact the Department of Labor to learn about your workplace breastfeeding rights or to file a complaint.

A Word From Verywell

There are many wonderful and reliable resources on the internet to guide you in your breastfeeding journey. But the truth is, sometimes you need to connect with a real-life helper in order to get your question or concern fully addressed.

After all, each mother’s breastfeeding challenge is unique to her situation, and therefore may require a more personalized response.

Speaking with your healthcare provider or contacting a lactation consultant is the way to go if you have any pressing breastfeeding questions that you can’t find the answers to online. Legal questions can be brought to your local ACLU or state and local breastfeeding coalitions.

And don’t forget your fellow breastfeeding peers. There is really nothing as valuable as connecting with a fellow breastfeeding mama—either online or in person—to share your stories and exchange advice.

Most of all, keep in mind that there is almost always a solution to your breastfeeding challenge, and if breastfeeding your baby is your goal, you can totally accomplish that. So keep the faith, never be afraid to reach out for help, and nurse on!

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  • AAP Policy on Breastfeeding. Academy of American Pediatrics website. Updated 2019.


  • Workplace Support in Federal Law. United States Breastfeeding Committee website. Updated 2019.