Breastfeeding FAQs

Breastfeeding is good for both infants and mothers. Infants who are breastfed have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, acute ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), diarrhea, vomiting, and severe lower respiratory disease. Mothers who breastfeed their infants have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

In most cases, a woman can breastfeed after breast or nipple surgery. The longer it has been since your surgery, the better your outcome. Having your surgery at least 2 years ago will ensure your duct system is working well. Some mothers who had this surgery many years ago even have an oversupply. 

According to the CDC, a 2013 clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics Into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics,” indicates that most medications and immunizations are safe to use during lactation. According to the AAP, healthcare providers should weigh the risk and benefits when prescribing medications to breastfeeding mothers.

(Note: The recommendations as stated above are those of the American Academy of Pediatrics and do not represent the views of Nest Collaborative. Any course of treatment or standard of medical care is between the patient and her healthcare provider. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.)

The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains LactMed®, a database containing information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed.

LactMed® includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood and the possible adverse effects in the nursing infant. Suggested therapeutic alternatives to those drugs are provided, where appropriate. All data come from scientific literature and are fully referenced. A peer review panel reviews the data for scientific validity and currency.

Another good source is the Infant Risk Center of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. They are a leading research center for medication safety during pregnancy and lactation. Check out their MommyMeds for Mothers app for the latest medication safety guidelines.

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Balancing Life With Breastfeeding FAQs

Many women start to pump breast milk when they decide to return to work after maternity leave. Others may start when they need someone else to help feed the baby. Whatever the reason for starting, you should practice 1 or 2 weeks in advance to learn how to use your pump. You can pump right after your baby eats or between feedings. You may even pump one breast while you feed your baby from the other.

This advanced planning gives you time to build up a collection of breast milk and store it for your baby’s later feedings.

Pumping breast milk takes about the same time as it does to breastfeed, which is generally about 10 to 15 minutes.

At first, you may not get much milk, but this will change as you continue to pump regularly. The more you pump the more milk your breasts will make.

The best way to increase your milk supply is to breastfeed or pump more often. This will really work to your advantage when your baby goes through growth spurts at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age–when your baby needs more milk during these growth spurts.

Breast milk can be stored in a clean glass or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. Or you can use sterile, sealable, milk storage bags (don’t use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breast milk). If your baby eats 4 ounces in a feeding, put 4 ounces of breast milk in the storage container and put a date on the container so you know how long it will last. Storing it in premeasured amounts will help avoid any waste of breast milk.

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of the refrigerator (39 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) for up to 3 days or 5 days for very clean expressed milk. It can be stored in the back of a freezer (0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) up to 3 to 6 months or up to 9 months for very clean expressed milk. And it can be stored in the back of a deep freezer (-4 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) for up to 6 months or up to 12 months for very clean expressed milk.

If your breast milk is stored in a cooler with ice packs, it can last up to 24 hours. If it is at room temperature (less than 77 degrees Fahrenheit), it can last up to 4 hours or up to 6 to 8 hours for very clean expressed milk. Throw out any leftover milk within 1 to 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding.

All breast pump parts that come in contact with breast milk, such as bottles, valves, and breast shields, should be cleaned after each use. Sterilization is not necessary to keep breast pump parts safe and sanitary.

If you’d like to add your most recently pumped fresh milk to a bottle of already refrigerated milk pumped on the same day, you need to cool it down first. Place the fresh breast milk into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, once it is cool, you can add it to the other container of refrigerated milk.

If after feeding your baby, you have half or a quarter of it left, put it in the fridge and offer it again at the next feeding. Don’t keep it beyond that point, as used breast milk can become contaminated since bacteria from the baby’s mouth can get into the bottle while your baby sucks.

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