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Your Top 4 Breastfeeding Questions Answered

August 16, 2019

Whether this is your first child or your fifth, when you have a new baby, you’re constantly monitoring them. It’s important to be certain they have everything needed to be healthy and happy. Some parents feel more insecure about how much their baby is getting when breastfeeding and may have concerns that everything is progressing normally with their newborn.

As your baby grows, your own body may experience some changes, and it can be difficult at first to determine what’s normal. Michelle Gnagey, MSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC, professional development specialist and international board-certified lactation consultant at Kettering Health Network, addresses some of the questions you may have during your breastfeeding journey.

What foods should be avoided while breastfeeding?

According to Michelle, the answer is none.

“A breastfeeding mother can eat any food she wants to in moderation,” Michelle says. “Moderation is the key to anything, including caffeine.”

Can I take my normal medication while breastfeeding? What about over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or allergy medicine?

Most over-the-counter medication is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers, but there are a few precautions you’ll want to take.

“Anything that will dry up your head also decreases milk supply,” Michelle says. “Antihistamines, like Zyrtec or Benadryl, and pseudoephedrines, like Sudafed should be taken in limited amounts, using the least amount needed and never using the long-acting ones.”

In terms of prescription medications, there are some that are not recommended during breastfeeding. The best way to determine which of your medications are safe for use is to contact a lactation consultant or your doctor.

Michelle also recommends a free app called LactMed, which can be used to look up medications and their interactions with breastfeeding.

What changes should I expect my body to go through during breastfeeding?

Initially, there likely won’t be significant body changes, though there should be some change to how the breasts feel. Many women experience engorgement about three days after birth, which is the filling of the milk glands in the breast and swelling around the glands. That will usually subside within 24 hours. If it doesn’t, seek help from your doctor or a lactation consultant. It is normal for the breasts to feel softer after feeding.

Women should not experience pain with breastfeeding, especially after the first week, according to Michelle.

“A little discomfort is normal, and during engorgement, it can be uncomfortable to nurse, but it should not be painful,” Michelle says. “If there’s pain, the nipple is likely not positioned correctly. With positioning, the nipple should land between the tongue and the soft palate.” If you are experiencing any pain, contact a lactation consultant for assistance with positioning and latching your baby.

Lumps in the breast may indicate a plugged milk duct, and if accompanied by a fever and flu-like symptoms, could mean that you are developing an infection in the breast. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Can I continue to breastfeed if I become pregnant?

According to Michelle, absolutely.

“Many women tandem feed,” Michelle says. “When a woman gets close to the point of delivery, the breast milk will change back to colostrum, at which point the baby may choose to self-ween.”

If this doesn’t happen, you can continue to breastfeed both babies, with the newborn feeding first.

Ask an expert

If you have specific questions about your breastfeeding experience, visit our Maternity page to find resources or schedule an appointment.