Breastfeeding questions and answers
A guide for moms who breastfeed
Answers to your questions about breastfeeding
Our Similac® brand panel of experts has answers to your breastfeeding questions. And if you are interested in advice from moms like you (dads, too), visit our discussion boards.
Q: Does my baby need to eat anything else besides breast milk?
A: No, your baby should not need to eat anything else besides breast milk, unless recommended by your doctor for medical reasons. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, suggests all infants and children receive 400 IU of vitamin D daily beginning soon after birth and continuing throughout childhood to strengthen their overall bone health. But, make sure to discuss vitamin D with your baby's doctor before making changes to your baby's diet.
Q: What kind of diet is good to follow while I'm breastfeeding?
A: For women who are breastfeeding, an ideal diet includes a well-balanced variety of healthy foods including grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Most women can maintain a healthy milk supply. It is helpful to minimize the amount of empty-calorie foods you eat and eat much more nutrient-rich foods. It is also important to talk to your doctor about vitamins and minerals in your diet. Prenatal multivitamins can make up for any deficiencies that might be in your diet.
When you are breastfeeding, you still need the same nutrient density as you did during pregnancy. If you notice that your baby becomes upset after feeding, it might be because of something you ate. If this happens, you should talk with your doctor to come up with a plan of action; however, no one food or food group should be eliminated from your diet unless your baby has a very clear reaction to a specific food.
Q: Can I lose weight if I breastfeed my baby?
A: While we do not recommend crash diets or over-exercising, you can lose weight while breastfeeding — in fact, it will probably happen naturally.
Breastfeeding often helps a mother get back to her pre-pregnancy weight in two ways. First, the hormones involved in breastfeeding help the uterus shrink back to the size it was before you became pregnant. Second, you naturally burn calories in order to produce breast milk. If you are worried about your diet, encourage yourself to eat healthful foods, which will increase your energy while providing nutritious milk for your baby. Limit empty-calorie foods containing solid fat and added sugars. At www.ChooseMyPlate.gov they have tools and information to show you how to adjust your calories appropriately to help you lose weight.
Breastfeeding mothers can begin exercising as soon as their doctors give them the OK.
Q: I know that I am going to have to go back to work. How can I continue to give my baby breast milk while I am away?
A: You can continue giving your baby breast milk while you are away by expressing (commonly called pumping) breast milk to be bottle fed. Many women pump during the day while at work and breastfeed when they are at home. In order to pump breast milk at work, you will need a pump, access to a private area, a place to store the breast milk while at work (a breast milk cooler or refrigerator/freezer), breast milk storage bags/bottles, flexible break time, and a supportive company policy. Your employer might already have an established lactation program to help you get started. Regardless, let your supervisor know of your pumping needs in advance so that you can have a plan that will work for both of you.
Q: Can you give me some information about expressing breast milk?
A: There are three options for expressing breast milk: hand expression, manual pumping, and automatic pumping. Hospital-grade electric pumps with double collecting systems provide the closest imitation of your baby's sucking action and are a great option if you will be pumping on a regular basis. If you are only going to be separated from your baby occasionally, a hand pump should be fine.
Q: What can I do to get my partner involved in breastfeeding?
A: Let your partner know he plays an important role in feeding time. Studies have shown that with your partner’s support, breastfeeding is more successful and continues for a longer period of time. To start, your partner can provide encouragement and positivity. He also can prepare meals, help around the house, and, if you are expressing milk, take a turn and bottle feed, which will allow him to bond with your baby. All told, your partner’s help can give you a much-needed break, not to mention give your home a more positive environment.