Breastfeeding can offer many benefits.

  • The physical contact of breastfeeding increases bonding

  • Breastmilk is a protective factor for baby against illnesses and SIDS

  • Breastmilk is easy to digest and offers baby important nutrients

  • Breastfeeding burns calories, which may help moms lose weight gained during pregnancy

For many mothers and babies, breastfeeding goes smoothly from the start but for others, it takes time. Like anything new, breastfeeding takes some practice —this is perfectly normal. Gift of Life Foundation has a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) on staff who helps mothers experiencing breastfeeding problems, such as latching difficulties, painful nursing, and low milk production.

Common Questions About Breastfeeding

Q: Why should I breastfeed?

A: Breastfeeding is normal and healthy for infants and moms. Breastmilk has hormones and disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs and illness.

Q: How long should I breastfeed?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months, and for as long as both the mother and baby would like. Most infants should drink only breastmilk for the first six months.

Q: Does my baby need cereal or water?

A: Until your baby is 6 months old, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding your baby breastmilk only. Giving your baby cereal may cause your baby to not want as much breastmilk. This will decrease your milk supply. You can slowly introduce other foods starting around 6 months of age.

Q: Is it okay for my baby to use a pacifier?

A: If you want to try it, it is best to wait until breastfeeding is established to introduce a pacifier. This allows your baby time to learn how to latch well on the breast and get enough milk. Once your baby is breastfeeding well, you should use the pacifier when putting your infant to bed to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Q: Is it safe to smoke, drink, or use drugs?

A: If you smoke, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to quit as soon as possible. If you can’t quit, it is still better to breastfeed because it may protect your baby from respiratory problems and SIDS. Be sure to smoke away from your baby, and change your clothes to keep your baby away from the chemicals smoking leaves behind. Ask a doctor or nurse for help quitting smoking!

You should avoid alcohol in large amounts. An occasional drink is fine, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting two hours or more before nursing. You also can pump milk before you drink to feed your baby later.

It is not safe for you to use an illegal drug. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and PCP can harm your baby. Some reported side effects in babies include seizures, vomiting, poor feeding, and tremors.

Q: Can I take medicines if I am breastfeeding?

A: Most likely. Almost all medicines pass into your milk in small amounts. Some have no effect on the baby and can be used while breastfeeding. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you are using and ask before you start using new medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements. For some women, stopping a medicine can be more dangerous than the effects it will have on the breastfed baby.

Q: Do I still need birth control if I am breastfeeding?

A: Yes. Breastfeeding is not a sure way to prevent pregnancy, even though it can delay the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. Talk to your doctor or nurse about birth control choices that are okay to use while breastfeeding.

Q: Does my breastfed baby need vaccines?

A: Yes. Vaccines are very important to your baby’s health. Breastfeeding may also help your baby respond better to certain immunizations, giving him or her more protection. Follow the schedule your doctor gives you. If you miss any vaccines, check with the doctor about getting your baby back on track as soon as possible.

For more information about breastfeeding, call Gift of Life Foundation and ask to speak to one of our certified lactation specialists at (334) 272-1820. 

*Source: Office of Women’s Health www.womenshealth.gov

Additional Breastfeeding Resources:

Baptist Health Lactation Center
To speak with a lactation consultant or to learn more about the lactation center and classes call:
Baptist Medical Center East: (334) 244-8360
Baptist Medical Center South: (334) 286-2829
Website: https://www.baptistfirst.org/services/womens-and-childrens-services/lactation-center/

Jackson Hospital
Breastfeeding Classes- $15
Class includes basic breastfeeding information and techniques and prevention of common problems. Class size is limited. Participants are encouraged to register by phone or email by the 5th month of pregnancy for the best selection of available class dates. Payment will be received on the day of class in the form of cash, checks, or money orders. Checks should be made payable to Jackson Hospital.

Contact: Liz Owen, RN, C-OB, IBCLC, CCE
Phone: 334-293-8497
Email: liz.owen@jackson.org
Website: www.jackson.org

WIC Nutritionist
HSI Health Services WIC Clinic
2101 Chestnut Street
Montgomery, AL 36106
(334) 834-5811

Montgomery County AL Health Department
3060 Mobile Highway
Montgomery, AL 36108
(334) 293-6400

La Leche League (LLL) Montgomery
www.lllusa.org

Healthy Children.org
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Why-Breastfeed.aspx

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health
https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/

Hear advice from a Gift of Life mom on why breastfeeding was the right choice for her family.