Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of birth control can I use while breastfeeding?
Natural family planning, as well as drugstore and barrier methods, are safe with breastfeeding.
Combination pills with estrogen and progestin may compromise milk production. Use a pill with only one hormone.
Women should delay using progestin-only methods (mini-pills, injectables or implants) for at least six weeks to ensure an adequate milk supply.
Monitor the baby carefully for adequate weight gain after beginning the use of hormonal birth control. Some women have reported a drop in milk supply after using a hormonal method.
When a baby is under six months old, is totally breastfeeding (i.e. not getting anything else to eat), has all of his sucking needs met at the breast (i.e. no pacifier or thumb/finger sucking), is waking to breastfeed during the night, and the mother has not had a period, breastfeeding will give 98 percent protection from pregnancy.
Breastfeeding could be used along with another form of birth control to make both more effective. Condoms should be used if either partner is non-monogamous to prevent STD transmission.
Are there any times when a mother should not breastfeed her baby?
A mother should not breastfeed if she is:
- HIV or HTLV positive
- using street drugs
- a heavy drinker
- receiving treatment for cancer
- receiving retroviral therapy
...or if her baby has classical galactosemia
Can I receive immunizations if I am breastfeeding my baby?
All vaccines are currently compatible with breastfeeding except the smallpox vaccines, which should not be given to any woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can breastfeeding help to reduce jaundice in the baby?
Evidence shows that frequent breastfeeding (8-10 times per 24 hours) reduces new baby jaundice in the healthy term infant. Breastfeeding 8 to 9 times a day while in the hospital may prevent the most common form of jaundice.
When a jaundiced baby is too weak to take out enough milk, the mother should pump and give her milk to the baby in another way (cup or bottle or tube feeding device) until the baby recovers.
Are there any times when a mother should postpone breastfeeding her baby?
A mother should postpone breastfeeding if she has/is:
- Group A streptococcus: mother may breastfeed when over acute stage and after 24-hour treatment.
- Active tuberculosis: mother must wait to breastfeed until treatment is established for two weeks; mother may pump and someone else can give her milk to her baby.
- Active hepatitis B: give baby HBIG and hepatitis B vaccine; baby may go to breast right away after birth before given the shots, but they should be given soon.
- Chronic carrier of hepatitis: Call the CDC for the most current information: 1-800-232-4636.
- Active herpes simplex lesions in the nipple area: Mother may breastfeed after lesions are healed.
- Chickenpox: Call the Centers for Disease Control for information: 1-800-232-4636. Treatment will depend on when the mother and baby were exposed, how old the baby is, and the mother's immune status.
- Receiving certain medications or radiopharmaceuticals: The National Library of Medicine Drug Database provides information about drugs and other chemicals that can affect a nursing infant. The mother should continue to pump to sustain her milk supply.
- If the baby has Duarte's Galactosemia or PKU: Some breastfeeding may be possible by working with a nutritionist, monitoring infant blood levels, and using special formulas.