Breastfeeding your baby can be one of the sweetest parts of parenthood. But it's common for concerns, questions, and obstacles to arise. While some people deal with supply issues, others struggle with sore nipples. Many parents wonder how to keep breastfeeding when they have to go back to work.

Working through these challenges is well worth it since breastfeeding is the best way to nourish most babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It boosts your baby's immune system, protects them against infection, and reduces their risk for obesity. Learn how to get started and keep your baby safe, happy, and bonded while breastfeeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to stop breastfeeding?

    Gradually. For instance, you can drop one feeding session a week until your baby is drinking from a bottle or cup exclusively. This gentle approach will help your baby adjust and also keep your breasts from getting engorged, which can happen if you stop breastfeeding abruptly.

  • Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

    If universal precautions are followed by the artist, a parent can still successfully breastfeed. However, milk banks require you to wait eight days after getting a tattoo or piercing before you can donate milk. The procedure must have been done with sterile, single-use needles. If the procedure was done at an unregulated site or with multi-use needles, you cannot donate human milk for 12 months due to possible infectious disease transmission.

  • Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

    Yes, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding, though it's unlikely. Your odds of getting pregnant are lowest if you follow the Lactational Amenorrhea Method, which is only effective if every rule is followed carefully. If one of the rules isn't followed, it's not effective. If you want to avoid pregnancy, ask your healthcare provider about contraception methods that are safe for your baby, including intrauterine devices (IUDs), arm implants, progestin-only pills, and barrier methods (like condoms or cervical caps).

  • How many calories does breastfeeding burn?

    It depends how much a person is breastfeeding. Most people with a full milk supply produce between 25 and 35 ounces of breast milk per day. Producing a full supply burns roughly 500 calories each day. So a person with a full milk supply is going to burn a lot more than a person who is partially breastfeeding or in the weaning process.

  • How to lose weight while breastfeeding?

    You can lose weight while breastfeeding by creating a calorie deficit (burning more calories than taking in). You are expending energy just by breastfeeding. So if you take in the recommended number of calories for a non-breastfeeding parent—up to 2,000 calories per day if you're sedentary and up to 2,400 if you are active—you should lose weight gradually. Regular aerobic exercise—like vigorous walking, jogging, biking, or a cardio class—boosts fitness and heart health in people who are lactating. Feed your baby right before exercise to relieve engorgement and reduce discomfort.

  • Can you drink coffee while breastfeeding?

    Yes you can drink coffee while breastfeeding. While small amounts of caffeine do pass through milk, up to 300mg is considered compatible with breastfeeding.

  • Can you take ibuprofen while breastfeeding?

    Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is a safe choice for breastfeeding parents to relieve pain. Studies show that only trace amounts of ibuprofen get passed to babies through breast milk and infants show no ill effects from it. Ibuprofen also has a long track record of safe use in babies.

  • Do nipple piercings affect breastfeeding?

    Nipple piercings can affect your milk production if nerves were severed in the process. They can also interfere with your baby's ability to breastfeed. Some babies have trouble latching or leak milk from their mouths when feeding on a pierced nipple. Remove any piercings before feedings to help you and your baby be more comfortable.

  • Can you take Benadryl while breastfeeding?

    It is not recommended to take Benadryl while breastfeeding. There's some evidence that taking Benadryl in large doses for a prolonged period can reduce milk supply and may make infants drowsy. Nonsedating antihistamines are a good alternative that won't make your baby sleepy.

  • Can you get Botox while breastfeeding?

    There aren't any data on Botox use during lactation, but the procedure is currently considered safe. Though Botox is derived from a toxin that causes life-threatening botulism when consumed in food, it's not detectable in your bloodstream after injections. Therefore it is unlikely to pass through your breast milk, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Even in instances when breastfeeding parents ingest and contract botulism, babies appear to be protected. It's best to wait a few hours after an injection before breastfeeding, though, to be safe. Only get injections by a licensed medical professional to be safe.

  • Can you smoke while breastfeeding?

    You shouldn't. Nicotine and other chemicals found in tobacco can limit your supply and also pass into your breast milk. Babies exposed to nicotine through breastfeeding are more likely to have sleep problems, liver and lung damage, and other issues. Also, secondhand smoke puts a baby at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory illnesses, and ear infections.

  • Can you take Plan B while breastfeeding?

    Also known as the morning-after pill, Plan B (Levonorgestrel) is OK for a breastfeeding parent to use. Progestin-only pills like Plan B are preferable to other methods of hormonal birth control while breastfeeding. There's no evidence that Plan B hampers breast milk supply or harms babies' health. To be extra safe, experts recommend feeding your baby three to four hours after you take a dose.

  • How to combine breastfeeding and pumping?

    Start by getting a breast pump you like. If you're planning a return to work or school, start pumping during your planned "away" hours a few weeks before your new schedule begins. You get the hang of pumping, and your baby can adjust to drinking from a bottle. When away from your baby, pump at the time you'd be feeding them if together—your body should continue to make the right amount of milk for their needs. You can freeze and store any extra.

  • How to stop milk production if not breastfeeding?

    If you don't breastfeed or pump, your body will gradually stop making milk within a week or so after childbirth. If you get engorged while waiting it out, you can hand express a little milk on occasion to relieve the discomfort. Cold packs can also help with engorgement pain and help hinder milk production. You can chill and apply cabbage leaves, which have been shown to reduce milk supply, too.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lactational Amenorrhea Method.

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  6. Milkworks Community Breastfeeding Center. Exclusive pumping.

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  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maternal diet.

  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ibuprofen.

  11. La Leche League International. Nipple piercings.

  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Diphenhydramine.

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  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco and e-cigarettes.

  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Oral levonorgestrel.

  17. La Leche League International. Commonly asked questions about lactation after loss.

  18. American Academy of Pediatricians. Engorgement.

  19. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Breastfeeding: Surgeon General’s Call to Action Fact Sheet.

  20. World Health Organization. Early initiation of breastfeeding to promote exclusive breastfeeding.

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  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol.

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