Mother breastfeeding baby


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

Woman nursing her infant
Can I Use Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding?
breastfeeding person touching head
Can I Take Advil While Breastfeeding?
Tylenol During Breastfeeding
Can I Take Tylenol While Breastfeeding?
Wine glasses clinking
Can I Drink Wine While Breastfeeding?
woman smoking weed
Can I Smoke Weed While Breastfeeding?
Can I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
mom and baby
Can I Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
Tired mother nursing a newborn baby.
How I Managed My Breastfeeding Guilt
Woman sneezing while holding tissue
Can I Take Benadryl While Breastfeeding?
breastfeeding mother
Do I Need to Give My Breastfeed Baby an Iron Supplement?
Illustration of parents picking a baby bottle
How to Find the Best Bottle for Your Baby
baby mouth
What Is a Lip Tie in Babies?
Woman using breastfeeding tracker
Should You Try a Breastfeeding Tracker App?
Mother and baby
20 Things to Do Between Feedings
Woman breast feeding at the park
Information and Tips for Discreet Breastfeeding On-the-Go
breastfeeding mom
How Breastfeeding Newborns Can Also Reduce the Chance of SIDS
Latino, hispanic, mother feeding newborn baby girl
What Is the Composition of Breast Milk?
Mature Breast Milk
The Mature Stage of Breast Milk
Mother breastfeeding baby
Overview of Breastfeeding and Foremilk
Milk spilling from baby bottle
When the Transitional Breast Milk Stage Starts and How Long It Lasts
What is Hindmilk? Definition, Information, and Collection of Hindmilk
Overview and Importance of Hindmilk for Infants
breast milk colors
Breast Milk Color, How It Changes, and What's Normal
Woman breastfeeding a baby
Oxytocin and Why It Is Important for Breastfeeding
Woman holding newborn baby
How Often Should You Breastfeed Your Newborn?
Baby being medicated
Supplements for Breastfed Babies
Bottles of breast milk on a table
These Are the Ways to Use Breast Milk Other Than Feeding a Baby
Woman breastfeeding her young infant
How to Break the Suction of a Breastfeeding Latch
String on finger as a reminder
How to Remember Which Side to Breastfeed On
Mother with her newborn child
Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?
Woman breastfeeding her son
The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding
All About Lactoferrin In Breast Milk
What You Need to Know About Lactoferrin in Breast Milk
The Lipids Found In Breast Milk
Overview of the Lipids in Breast Milk
Mom playing with baby
Are Breastfed Babies Smarter?
Mother breastfeeding baby.
Should You Breastfeed From One or Both Sides at Each Feeding?
Woman breastfeeding
How Long Should It Take to Breastfeed at Each Feeding?
Mother breastfeeding newborn in the hospital
Colostrum is the Milk Your Baby Gets the First Time You Breastfeed
Young mom breastfeeding
Preparing Yourself Is Essential so You Don't Struggle With Breastfeeding
Mother breastfeeding baby in living room
What Are Those Pimple-Like Pores on Your Areola?
Immunoglobulins (Antibodies) In Breast Milk
What Do the Antibodies in Breast Milk Do?
Mother breastfeeding baby girl at home in New York City
Surprising Ways Breast Milk Changes
A newborn breast feeding
Techniques and Information About the Breastfeeding Latch
Hispanic mother breastfeeding newborn baby in a hospital
Can You Breastfeed If You Have An Overactive Thyroid?
Side lying breastfeeding
How and When to Use the Side-Lying Breastfeeding Position
mother breastfeeding child
Tips for Breastfeeding With Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dermatitis
Breastfeeding child
The Enzymes Found in Breast Milk Helps With Your Baby's Nutrition
Bottle of milk with pink background
Blood in Breast Milk: Information, Safety, Causes, and Treatment
Mixed race mother admiring newborn infant
How to Get Breastfeeding Off to a Good Start
Mom holds baby while breastfeeding
How Areola Size Affects Breastfeeding
Five women in different breastfeeding positions
The 5 Best Breastfeeding Positions for Different Situations
a baby breastfeeding
The Areola and Breastfeeding Concerns, What to Look For
Close-Up Of Mother Breastfeeding New Born On Bed At Home
What to Do If You Find a Breast Lump While Breastfeeding
Young mother breastfeeding her baby boy at outdoor cafe
Drinking While Breastfeeding: What's Okay, What's Not?
How Does Your Breast Size and Shape Affect Breastfeeding?
baby's hand reaching out for bottle
How the Carbohydrates in Breast Milk Help a Baby Grow
Breast definition and anatomy. What are the parts of the breasts?
Exterior and Interior Parts of the Breast
Baby boy being breastfeeding fed,close up
What is World Breastfeeding Week?
Breast Changes In Pregnancy and Postpartum To Prepare For Breastfeeding
How Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Weaning Affect Breast Size and Shape
Lactation consultant with mom and baby
Do You Need to See a Lactation Consultant?
Conceptual image of female breast anatomy.
The Milk Ducts and Related Breast Problems
Doctor Consult
How Mothers Can Still Breastfeed With Hypoplastic Breasts
Page Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About breastfeeding.

  2. Nemours Foundation. Weaning your child.

  3. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Breastmilk donation process.

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

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Contraception during breastfeeding.

  6. Milkworks Community Breastfeeding Center. Exclusive pumping.

  7. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. When breastfeeding, how many calories should moms and babies consume?

  8. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

  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.

  13. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Botulin A. Revised September 21, 2000.

  14. Primo CC, Ruela PBF, Brotto LD de A, Garcia TR, Lima E de F. Effects of maternal nicotine on breastfeeding infantsRev Paul Pediatr. 2013;31(3):392-397. doi:10.1590/S0103-05822013000300018

  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.

  21. Mount Sinai Health System. Thrush in newborns.

  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol.

  23. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients.