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Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding


newborn baby sleeping on back


Some women find breastfeeding easy, while others encounter challenges. Most new moms, however, have questions about breastfeeding.  

Here are some commonly asked questions and their answers:

My baby spits up. Should I be worried?

Learn more about Baby's Feeding Cues and BehavioursSpitting up small amounts after a meal is very common in the first few months of life and is not the same as vomiting. Spitting up usually stops as your baby grows. If your baby frequently spits up large amounts of milk or projectile vomits, contact your healthcare provider for advice.  

Why does my baby hiccup so much?

Many babies have frequent hiccups, which can be quite loud. Baby's hiccups often bother the parent more than they seem to bother the baby. Don't worry. Hiccups go away on their own.

Should I burp my baby?

Burping between feedings may help bring up air bubbles and prevent some spitting up. To burp your baby, gently rub or pat her on the back. Thumping your baby on the back can make your baby spit up all the milk that was just taken.

Can I drink alcohol when I am breastfeeding?

It's best not to drink alcohol at all while breastfeeding. It may affect your baby's sleep or decrease the amount of milk your baby takes at feeding time. If you choose to drink alcohol, try to feed your baby before you have a drink. Also try to wait for two to three hours after a drink before you breastfeed.

Should I smoke if I am breastfeeding?

Breastfed babies are healthier than formula fed babies -  even when a breastfed baby's mother smokes. It's best if babies are not exposed to any smoke, either through mother’s milk or second hand smoke. However, if you choose to smoke, breastfeeding will still help your baby.  The antibodies and other protective factors in human milk help protect babies from some of the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. If you smoke:

  • Breastfeed.
  • Smoke as little as you can.
  • Smoke after breastfeeding rather than before. The more time between smoking and feeding, the less nicotine in your milk.
  • Do not smoke in the same room or vehicle as your baby. Ask others to do the same. 
  • Check out resources to quit smoking. 

Should I breastfeed if I am sick?

If you get sick with a cold or flu, you should continue to breastfeed because your breast milk can help protect your baby from illness.
Before taking any prescription or non prescription medications - including natural health products - speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Certain medications will pass into the breast milk. While some are safe, others are not.

When should I give my baby solid foods?

Your baby does not need any food except breast milk for the first six months. For information about introducing solid foods, click here

Is there a nipple or bottle that’s suitable for breastfeeding babies?

No research proves that any bottle or nipple is more like breastfeeding. Some babies can switch from breast to bottle and back with no difficulty while others will experience challenges. If you are giving an occasional bottle, watch closely to ensure your baby is breastfeeding well.

Do I need to buy special equipment to breastfeed?

You may prefer a breastfeeding pillow, but the beauty of breastfeeding is that no special equipment is needed for most mothers and babies.

Should I give my baby a bottle when I leave her with a baby-sitter?

That's something to think about. Even babies given a bottle in the early weeks can refuse to take a bottle later on – your baby associates your breasts with food, warmth and comfort. If your baby refuses to take a bottle, try offering expressed milk with a small cup or spoon. At six months, babies start eating other foods, such as milk and water in a cup. If you choose to give a bottle to your baby, it is a good idea to wait until she is at least six weeks old.

Will breastfeeding make my breasts 'saggy'?

Breasts change over your lifetime. Puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding and age all play a roll. Compared to these other factors, breastfeeding is not what changes breasts!

Do I need to drink milk to make milk?

No. Cow’s milk is a good source of calcium and other nutrients, but it’s not necessary for breast milk production. If you don’t drink milk, you can get what you need from dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, almonds, the soft bones in canned salmon and some vegetables.

Should mothers experiencing a postpartum depression breastfeed?

Yes.  If you're depressed, hormones produced during breastfeeding will help you feel better. And breastfed babies are less likely to be affected by their mother's depression than bottle-fed babies. If you are on medication for depression, make sure that it's safe to take while breastfeeding.

Resources & Links:

VIDEO: Admission to Postpartum - Keeping Your Baby Skin-to-Skin
VIDEO: Baby's Feeding Cues and Behaviours
VIDEO: Breastfeeding Positions
VIDEO: Hand Expressing Milk
VIDEO: Latching Your Baby

Last Updated: August 12, 2013