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Frequently Asked Questions

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Prenatal and Well Baby Care

I just found out I'm pregnant. Where can I get healthcare for me and my baby?

We work closely with four Philadelphia hospitals to provide prenatal and well baby care at our health centers. Our Healthy Start program helps pregnant women and their families plan and prepare to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Where can I get condoms and other family planning supplies?

We provide confidential family planning services and birth control supplies at our health centers. You can also get free condoms from TakeControlPhilly.

Should pregnant women get immunizations?

In general, a woman should make sure she is up-to-date for immunizations before she becomes pregnant. This will help protect her and her baby during and after the pregnancy. It is recommended that pregnant women get a flu shot during flu season, since they have a much greater risk of getting very sick or having to go to the hospital if they get the flu. Some other immunizations may be given to women while they are pregnant if they need them or if they are at high risk for the disease the vaccine prevents.

Should pregnant women drink alcohol?

NO. According to the US Surgeon General, no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy. This includes beer, wine, and liquor (mixed drinks).

Alcohol can damage a fetus at any stage of pregnancy. Damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows she is pregnant.

For these reasons:

  • A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • A woman who is considering becoming pregnant should not drink alcohol.

Find out more:

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)

For support, contact:

NOFAS Birth Mothers' Network

One-on-one parent support for biological parents with children with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)



What kind of birth control can I use while breastfeeding?

Natural family planning, as well as drugstore and barrier methods, are safe with breastfeeding.

If a breastfeeding woman wants to use hormonal birth control, she should avoid combination pills with estrogen and progestin because they may compromise milk production.

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.

When a baby is under six months, 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 affords 98 percent protection from pregnancy.

Breastfeeding could be used in conjunction with another form of birth control to make both more effective. Condoms should be used if either partner is non-monogamous to prevent the transmission of STDS.

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
  • an alcoholic
  • 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 the incidence of hyperbilirubinemia (new baby jaundice) in the healthy term infant.

Supplementing nursing with water or dextrose-water will increase serum bilirubin levels in jaundiced, healthy, breastfeeding infants.

When an indirect serum bilirubin concentration is elevated by some pathologic cause, continue breastfeeding. If the baby is too weak to drive the milk supply, 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 2 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 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 and Prevention 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.