Breastfeeding can be a hard, isolating, and emotional journey, which is why it's so important to have support. That's why Romper launched a Facebook breastfeeding community, Breastfeeding TBH — to help make feeding another human being with your own body a little easier. Every day readers ask questions because, let's face it, breastfeeding is complicated, and each week in Rack Facts, Romper speaks with a lactation consultant to answer as many of those questions as possible. After all, everyone can use a little expert help, especially when it comes to feeding your kid.
Regardless of how excited you are to breastfeed or how satisfied you are with your decision to nurse your babe, it can still be incredibly tough to walk that road without any support. So many breastfeeding moms face opposition from their bosses, their co-workers, their doctors, and even their families. It's disheartening, especially when you think about how important support is to breastfeeding success. A study found that the number one reason moms gave up breastfeeding was because they lacked the support they needed after delivery. If breast is best, then why aren't more people stepping up for the breastfeeding moms of the world?
I spoke with Danielle Downs Spradlin, a certified lactation counselor accredited by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice and owner of Oasis Lactation Services, and Pamela Howard and Justine Anderson, lactation consultants at a pediatrician's office to answer all of your breastfeeding questions. Whether you have a huge support system or need someone to back you up, these three experts can give you the answers you're looking for to continue breastfeeding and to feel confident and empowered while doing so.
1. Breastfeeding While Taking Steroids
I just had a baby in October and she has been exclusively breastfeeding. But I just got sick and had to take steroids; the doctor told me not to breastfeed for seven days. I have pumped, but my question is, will she latch back on in seven days or will it be too hard to breastfeed her again? I am really scared that she won’t.
"It's very unusual that a medication is not compatible with breastfeeding for a set number of days," Spradlin says. "Many steroids are compatible with breastfeeding." As for getting your baby back on the breast, Spradlin says that it's important to have as much skin-to-skin contact as possible, including co-bathing.
2. Breast Implants & Breastfeeding
I'm 13 weeks pregnant. I had breast augmentation done about eight years ago and want know if it'll interfere with breastfeeding.
"There is no way to know how a breast augmentation will impact breastfeeding until the mom tries breastfeeding," Spradlin says. "There are several methods of adding implants — some methods damage breast tissue while others do not." Spradlin notes that, generally, reductions are more likely to cause milk production difficulties than implants are, but implants put pressure on the milk glands and can cause milk to eject more forcefully. "It's important to work with a lactation consultant from birth to get a deep latch to fully drain the breast."
3. Wisdom Tooth Pain & Breastfeeding
I have been having really bad pain because of my wisdom tooth and I have to get it pulled. I am afraid it will affect me breastfeeding my baby who is 4 months old and exclusively breastfed. Any advice?
"You should be OK to breastfeed as soon as you're awake from surgery and ready to do so," Howard says. "Talk to your dentist about pain medication that is compatible with breastfeeding as most are." Howard recommends pumping if you want to get more rest after surgery and would rather your baby have a bottle than breastfeed. "But do remember to maintain your supply if you aren't nursing," she says. "Your supply could take a serious hit if you are resting all day and not nursing."
4. Back To Breastfeeding After 2 Months
My baby girl is 2 months old now and, because of a mix of a bad latch and poor milk production, we only lasted five weeks breastfeeding. I never even had engorgement when I stopped because I had so little milk. I pumped every two hours and never got more than an ounce combined every time. Either way, I eventually gave up and went to all formula but now I miss breastfeeding so much and wish I had kept trying. Is it possible to make my milk come back?
"In short, yes," Howard says. "But I advise you to see a lactation consultant. Because your baby had a poor latch before and you struggled with milk supply, you will need expert help in getting baby back to the breast and making it a successful experience."
5. Teething Baby Bites While Nursing
I am breastfeeding my 7 month old, who is teething like crazy. She's constantly nibbling and sometimes biting hard on my nipples. I've tried telling her no but she doesn't understand. What can I do?
Howard notes that a baby that is biting is not nursing. "It's just not possible for a baby to actively nurse and bite at the same time," she says. "If they are swallowing and suckling, they can't bite." She recommends removing your baby from the breast when they bite or nibble and offer them a finger or teething ring. "A washcloth frozen with your breast milk can be a great distraction, too." You can still comfort nurse, Howard notes, but if you notice your baby is nibbling after a session, just remove them from your breast.
6. Dayquil While Nursing
Is it safe to take Dayquil Severe while nursing? If not, how long should one wait to nurse after taking a dose?
Howard, like Spradlin, also recommends the Infant Risk Center for any questions concerning medication and breastfeeding.
7. Family Not Supportive Of Breastfeeding
My mother says she's pro-breastfeeding, but continually says that my baby is too dependent and that she's not gaining weight because I'm too stubborn to give her formula or "real" food. My baby is only 5 months old and has a medical condition that makes it hard for her to gain weight. When I tell her that it's my choice and I'm doing what's best for her by exclusively breastfeeding, she huffs and pouts and says that I'm wrong. How do I deal with close family members that disagree with my parenting choices? I'm at wit's end trying to educate her and it is just too stressful. Please tell me I'm not alone.
You are definitely not alone Mama, but that doesn't make it any easier. "It can be very difficult when your family doesn't support your parenting decisions," Howard says. "But the important thing is that you know you are doing what's best for your baby and that you are happy with your decisions. It may help to speak to her directly about your feelings rather than a reaction to her suggestions. Tell her how much it hurts when she says you're wrong for your parenting decisions and ask her if you can give her some explanations to the concerns she may have. Chances are, she just loves you and your child and wants what's best for both of you."
Howard also notes that a lactation consultant may be able to help your mother see why her support is so important to your breastfeeding success. If none of that works, Howard notes that it may be time to put up a wall when it comes to conversations about parenting. "If your mother continues to tell you you are wrong and insist that you are harming your baby, you'll have to put a stop to it. The stress is simply not worth it. Let her know that it is unacceptable and that there will be no more discussions of you and your daughter breastfeeding."
Howard also suggests seeking out a local chapter of La Leche League so that you can find some support.
8. Work Doesn't Give Pumping Breaks
I work in a nursing home and have been having some trouble. They are timing me when I go to breastfeed and I'm not sure if they have the right to do that. I'm usually only between ten to 20 minutes late and I don't get a lunch because my lunch has to be my pumping time. Is that allowed?
"Every state has different laws, but in general, no. That is not allowed," Howard says. "There are federal laws in place and most employers have to follow them. Your employer, unless you are in an exempt category, must provide you with both reasonable break times to pump as well as a space that is not a bathroom." Howard suggests researching your state laws and if you are protected under federal law so that you can speak to your employer.
9. Breastfeeding After A Stomach Bug
I just got over a nasty stomach bug that's gone through just about everyone in my house. Since I breastfeed my 6 month old, does he get my immunity to it or is this wishful thinking?
"It's not just wishful thinking — your body is that amazing," Howard says. "You were already sharing those germs with your baby before you even had symptoms, which means that as long as you've been breastfeeding, your baby has been receiving your antibodies before you even knew you were sick."
10. Pumping Fuller Breast
My baby was born Wednesday and my milk came in yesterday. She will nurse one side for about 20 minutes and then the other about five. The one she nurses for only five minutes is still pretty full of milk when she's done. I know breastfeeding is a supply and demand thing, so I'm wondering if I pump one side while she nurses the other if I'll mess up my supply?
Howard notes that some babies may be full on one side and not breastfeed on both, so make sure to switch and start on the fuller breast for each session. "Try alternating breasts before pumping so that you don't become engorged," she says. "Sometimes it can help to pump if baby is refusing the breast, but this sounds like your baby may just be full from one side, so she doesn't adequately drain the other breast. See if she'll nurse on the fuller breast at her next feeding."
11. Breastfeeding Second Child
I have five weeks left in my pregnancy. This is my second child, but I never tried to breastfeed my first, so I'm completely clueless this time around. My plan is to breastfeed and pump this time, but I was wondering what all I need to have for breastfeeding before my baby is born and what I can wait and purchase later. Also, is there anything I need to know about breastfeeding with a toddler around?
"It sounds obvious, but if you have your breasts and a lactation consultant's contact information, you're all set," Howard says. "If you're planning on pumping, talk to your insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, you should be able to receive a pump. Chances are, you'll breastfeed just fine, so don't worry too much about what you need. If you run into issues, a lactation consultant can help you with a solution."
As far as breastfeeding with a toddler, Howard says to make sure you give your toddler lots of cuddles and one-on-one time as they may be a little jealous of a new sibling and all the attention the baby gets because of breastfeeding.
12. Dental Work While Breastfeeding
I am looking into getting some dental work done that I put off during pregnancy. Fillings, root canals, crowns, and more. Is there anything I should ask about or be concerned about that could affect my breast milk?
"Most medications used by dentists, including laughing gas, is safe for breastfeeding moms," Howard says. "You can generally nurse as soon as you're ready to, but prepare in advance if you think you'll be too exhausted."
13. No Bowel Movements For Baby After Eating Food
My son is 4 months old and exclusively breastfed. I gave him baby oatmeal twice in the last four days (about a tablespoon) mixed with my milk. I've also given him bananas twice and apples once. But now, he hasn't pooped in eight days. He's a little fussy because of this, understandably so. The week before I introduced other food, he only went once that week. I'm not sure if it's the food, his age, or maybe something I'm eating (cheese or dairy?). I called the pediatrician and she suggested a suppository or giving him water. What should I do?
"It sounds like your baby's having a difficult time after introducing solids," Howard says. "Your breast milk is more than sufficient enough to provide all the nutrients they need, so some moms find that waiting until baby is a little older before starting solids helps. Their digestive system may just need to mature." Howard also notes that it's normal for breastfed babies to go a few days without a bowel movement, so try not to panic too much. "Try some bicycle legs or tummy massages to see if that helps ease things along," she says.
14. Blistered Nipples After Nursing
My baby's almost 4 months old and exclusively breastfeed. She has a good latch, but my left nipple is cracked and sometimes get blisters. It comes out of her mouth completely white and burns after feedings and sporadically throughout the day. I use expressed milk to help the cracks, but what can I do about the pain? It hurts so bad.
"There shouldn't be any pain once breastfeeding is well established," Howard says. "It sounds like you are describing a bleb, which is a milk blister. Does your blister look like it's filled with milk? It could be from thrush or skin growing over a milk duct. Without being able to see you, I would recommend reaching out to a lactation consultant to determine the true problem. There could be more than one issue at play and you might need assistance with treatment."
15. Is Cow's Milk Necessary After 1 Year?
Breastfeeding has been going well and I've also built up a pretty substantial stash. I pump and nurse and plan to until my child doesn't want to. My question is, if I am giving my child breast milk after the one year mark, do I have to give them cow's milk? Will my milk and solid foods provide them with enough nutrients?
"Your milk will absolutely provide your child with enough nutrients," Anderson says. "As long as your baby is nursing a few times a day while eating food, you can avoid cow's milk if you want."
16. Birth Control While Breastfeeding
I am a first time mom and I am breastfeeding my baby (1 month old this week). I go to follow up with my OB-GYN next week to discuss birth control options. What options are safe for my baby and won't dry up my milk supply? I am currently thinking about Nexplanon, but have heard mixed reviews about it.
"Nexplanon should not cause any issues to your milk supply," Anderson says. "The mini-pill, Nexplanon, Depo shot, and IUD are your best choices if you're breastfeeding and want to avoid issues with your milk production. Everyone is different, so you may hear mixed reviews, but generally, Nexplanon is considered a safe choice."
17. Anxiety Over Diminishing Supply
I'm currently breastfeeding my 4 month old baby and it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. We haven't had any problems with latching, and other than the initial pain and getting used to everything, things have gone pretty smooth. However, I returned to work when he was 8 weeks old and have seen a gradual decrease in my supply since then. Luckily I have built up a small stash of breast milk, and I continue to pump when I'm away from him, but at this rate, my stash isn't going to last long and I'm very worried. My anxiety about this continues to get worse by the day. I have no support through my breastfeeding journey and I am on the verge of giving up. I don't know what to do.
"Sometimes it's difficult to remember to pump when you can rely on a freezer stash. In order to maintain your milk supply, you have to remove milk from your breasts every time your baby has a bottle, whether it's from milk you pumped that day or your freezer stash," Anderson says. "Without doing that, your milk supply will decrease." Anderson also notes that while it's easier said than done, it's important to try to relax and stay calm. "Stress can also harm your milk supply, so try not to fret too much. I'm sorry you haven't had any support. Reach out to a lactation consultant and/or breastfeeding group in your area so you can get some help and have support from those who understand."