Your breasts can get painful and inflamed due to clogged milk ducts or bacterial infection – this is referred to as mastitis. Once milk ducts are blocked, you could manifest flu-like symptoms like pain, redness, swelling, tenderness and fever. Further, a cracked nipple can aggravate symptoms as it allows bacteria to enter the breasts and cause infection.

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How do you Prevent Mastitis?

  • Exercise proper hygiene. You should practice good hygiene especially in handling your breasts. Wash your hands thoroughly before you breastfeed. Make sure that your breasts are wiped clean too to protect from infection and to ensure safety when nursing your newborn.
  • Breastfeed your baby on regular intervals. To relieve engorgement, you should breastfeed frequently and express milk to avoid clogging of ducts that cause mastitis. Whenever your breast feels full, nurse your baby right away.
  • Wear loose and comfortable underwear or clothing. Make sure that your bras are properly fitted and not too tight that it could restrict airflow.
  • Veer away from nipple ointments or creams. The use of these nipple ointments can easily trigger bacterial infection.
  • Refrain from sleeping on your stomach or on your side. It is best to sleep comfortably at your back or on the side as long as your breasts are not compressed which could trigger the onset of mastitis.
  • Get lots of rest. While being a mom to a newborn could be chaotic – keep your sanity by accepting help from your partner or family members and get enough rest.

How do you Deal with Mastitis?

Suffering from mastitis can be stressful and debilitating for both you and your newborn. The discomfort and pain that it causes can affect your nursing behavior. Here are the ways to effectively deal with mastitis:

  • Taking a warm shower or bath. This can effectively help alleviate the pain and discomfort during engorgement of breasts. This will also help you relax and de-stress after a long busy day.
  • Apply warm compress before feeding. This will help ease the pain and inflammation before starting with nursing your newborn.
  • Massage the affected breasts gently. This will help ease engorgement.
  • Apply cold packs after feeding. This will help soothe your breasts.
  • Offer the affected breast first for feeding. It is recommended to relieve engorgement from affected breast before shifting to the other breast for feeding.
  • Make sure to change feeding positions. This will get you and your baby comfortable while breastfeeding and express milk whenever necessary.
  • Feed right away. Make sure that your baby feeds whenever hungry which could also help express breastmilk and relieve engorgement of breasts in the process.
  • Don’t wean. Breast abscess usually result from weaning. Continuous breastfeeding will help you prevent potential complications and treat mastitis as well as breast infections right away.
  • Increase fluid intake. Make sure that you are properly hydrated especially in between feedings.

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It is recommended to seek your physician’s expert advice on handling mastitis. Your doctor could prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to help ease the pain, fever, swelling, redness, and tenderness associated with mastitis. Get help from your lactation consultant to know your viable options for breastfeeding and how you could effectively remedy mastitis.

Physicians and experts advise mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least 2 years, and even past that for the baby’s comfort and security. However, not all mothers have the luxury of breastfeeding their babies for that long, or even for the recommended year before babies can take solid foods exclusively.

The mother might need to return to work, or might need to leave the baby with a relative or a babysitter. When there is a need, the mother should learn how to stop breastfeeding at the least harm to baby and herself.

The Case for Full-Term Breastfeeding and Natural Weaning

Breastfeeding is one of the few activities a mother can do together with her baby. It is also the first activity a mother will ever do with her baby. Because of this, it is one of the best ways for mother and baby to bond in the baby’s first days (or weeks, or months).

The Psychological Benefits of Breastfeeding

According to Dr Linda Folden Palmer, breastfeeding is not simply a way to put food into your newborn baby’s mouth. It builds bonds psychologically because the baby is able to identify your unique scent. Baby’s brain programs his or her body to relax and grow well in this kind of safe environment.

For some reason, breastfeeding is also associated with pain reduction in newborns. Some medical procedures can be done on babies while they are sucking, and they seem to feel less or no pain. Baby will also heal faster compared to non-breastfed infants.

Breastfeeding is also responsible for high oxytocin levels in both mother and infant. Oxytocin is the hormone that enhances emotions of trust, relaxation, and psychological stability. This contributes to the bonding between mother and baby, and even to his lifelong physical health. Because of the high oxytocin levels, early childhood stress is reduced.

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Once early childhood stress is lowered, Dr Palmer suggests, the baby will have less of a tendency to become stressed throughout his life. Because of this, the baby will suffer less from stress-related problems, such as high blood pressure, later on.

The Physical Benefits of Breastfeeding

According to Dr Palmer, breastfeeding promotes the newborn’s brain development by activating the parts of the brain dealing with attention, alertness, waking, and sleeping. Bottle-feeding has smaller, although similar, changes.

Breastfeeding also supports baby’s health. Breastfed babies have only ⅕ the rate of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) as babies who are bottle-fed and not given pacifiers for comfort nursing. Even bottle-fed babies with pacifiers for comfort have only ⅓ the rate of SIDS as those not given pacifiers.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics also supports breastfeeding because of the number of problems it reduces for both mother and child. First, a mother’s milk is equipped with all the vitamins and nutrients the baby needs. As long as the mother is on a balanced diet and hydrates regularly, no supplements need to be added.

Second, breastfeeding lowers the baby’s risk of more common infections. Breast milk has natural immunities it gives to the baby to protect him or her from bacterial infections, diarrhea, ear infections, and infections of the lungs and respiratory system such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and wheezing.

For mothers, breastfeeding burns calories quickly, reducing their pregnancy weight. It even strengthens bones against osteoporosis, and reduces breast and ovarian cancer risks. Not only the baby, but the mother as well benefits from full-term breastfeeding.

How Not to Stop Breastfeeding

It is accepted that there are some unavoidable challenges that will leave mothers unable to breastfeed. This does not in the least reduce the care they can give their babies. Dr Palmers states that bottle-fed infants held close during feeding times will have the same sensations as breast-fed infants. Also, with the advent of breast pumps and the pumping sites in workplaces mandated in the Affordable Care Act, mothers can now take breast milk home to their babies.

The first thing a mother should know is how not to stop breastfeeding. You should not simply stop breastfeeding altogether, going “cold turkey” without accustoming either your body or your baby to the event. Not only is that stressful for both of you, it will be very painful as your breasts still think they should produce for your baby.

What You Need to Know About When to Stop Breastfeeding

First, your baby needs to be at least 6 months old to be able to transition to solid foods. A mother should try and feed her baby exclusively on breastmilk until the baby is 6 months old, to give the baby a headstart in physical and psychological health.

However, if you are a working mother, you will need to plan for breast pumping. You can also plan for a transition to bottled formula-feeding if you do not think you will be able to sustain regular breast-pumping sessions at the workplace. Whatever you plan, spend as much time as possible in those first days, weeks, or months exclusively breastfeeding.

How to Stop Breastfeeding

The key to knowing how to stop breastfeeding is paying attention to the timing. For the first month or so, if you are breastfeeding on demand, your newborn should be feeding at least 8 to 12 times every day. By 2 months, the feeding should be down to around 7 to 9 times a day, and more predictable. The feeding times will become less and less as your baby grows older.

Regardless, when you need to start weaning, drop one breast feeding at a time. If your baby is feeding 5 times a day, feed your baby at your breast for 4 of those times, and shift the baby to the bottle for one of those. This is partly to get your baby accustomed to alternative feeding methods, and partly for your breasts to reduce their milk supply.

Wait after dropping the feed for your breasts to respond to the reduced demand. They will be full and painful during the skipped feeding, but do not pump them or the milk supply will continue. Ease the pain with cold cloths or cold crushed cabbage leaves (yes, no typo there), loose clothes and a supporting bra.

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When your milk supply has adjusted to the reduced demand, drop another breast feeding so that the baby is breastfed 3 times and bottle-fed 2 times in the day. Wait once more for the milk supply to stabilize before dropping another breast feeding. You can simply quit after your milk supply has steadied at 2 feeds. However, it will still be easier for you to go slowly.

What If You Have to Stop Cold Turkey?

If you have to stop cold turkey, if the need to wean is urgent, follow the basic weaning process–but all at once. Introduce your baby to the bottle, and simply stop feeding. Your breasts will be unused to the lack of demand, and will continue to supply for the first week or so (at a reduced rate per day).

To keep yourself as comfortable as possible during this process, use supporting bras (not too tight!) and loose clothes. Keep cold cabbage leaves that have been crushed slightly directly on your breasts–enzymes they secrete will naturally lower your milk supply. Cold compresses and cloths will ease the pain.

Try not to express milk at all at this time, except very gently with your hand if the pressure feels too hard. Avoid warmth on your breasts at all, to avoid signalling your breasts to produce (this includes being careful in the warm shower).

Natural Ways to Help Stop Breastfeeding

Besides the cold crushed cabbage leaves, there are some natural herbal remedies that will automatically reduce your milk supply. One is peppermint taken strong and in large amounts. To reduce the amount of sugar that usually comes with peppermint candies, make strong peppermint teas to drink.

Sage leaves (not teas or tinctures) can be effective in lowering milk supply. The leaves themselves may be turned into tea, or sprinkled into food. Concentrated sage may be dangerous, so consult your doctor or IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) first.

Another way to lower milk supply is to cut down on salty foods or lower the level of salt in your foods. Salt helps the body retain water, which is needed for milk supply. While you should still hydrate on demand, cutting down on salt will help lower the amount of water the milk can be created from.

Dangers of Improper Weaning

Some mothers bind their breasts or wear tight bras and clothes to force their breasts to stop producing milk. We cannot emphasize enough: do not use that method of weaning. It may result in mastitis or blocked ducts, neither of which you want in addition to the stress of weaning.

Milk ducts are the “pipes” that bring milk from their production in the tissues to your nipple. They become blocked when the outlets are forcibly stopped up. Like in the drains, the milk becomes backed-up in the breast. Hard, swollen lumps will be felt in the breast, and it will feel engorged and painful. If milk finds its way into the bloodstream, the body will fight it and you may run a temperature. This is already mastitis.

Natural Weaning: Still the Best Choice

You and your baby naturally decide together when to wean. However, if you need to stop breastfeeding earlier, there does not need to be harm to your child. Spend the same quality time with baby, hold him or her during bottle-feeding, and your bond should continue to grow and strengthen just as well.

A pregnant mother who has religiously stayed away from alcohol may now be wondering about how lax the restrictions are while she is breastfeeding. Now that she has no more developing baby getting his or her nutrients directly from her, is drinking wine while breastfeeding safe?

The short answer: yes, with conditions. The alcohol the mother takes in does not go directly to the baby any more–not through the umbilical cord, anyway. However, alcohol dispersed in the bloodstream still finds its way into the mother’s milk. Because of the baby’s weight and growth stage, it is dangerous for him or her to receive alcohol in any form.

How Does Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding Affect the Baby?

The liver is the internal organ responsible for processing alcohol. In a baby, the alcohol impact to its immature liver is dangerous. The baby’s weight against the alcohol content does not stand a chance. If the baby is less than 3 months old, he or she can only process the alcohol half as fast as a grown up can. The alcohol remains longer in the baby’s system.

In addition, if a mother nurses her baby 4 hours after drinking alcohol, the baby will drink only 80% of the milk he or she usually does. This is because the alcohol lowers the breast milk production of the mother. The baby can also fall asleep almost immediately, but wake up sooner and become restless faster.

Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding Safe

An additional study of 400 babies showed that at 1 year old, babies lagged behind their age group in gross motor development (large movement control like arm and leg swinging). Those who lagged were breastfed while their mothers took alcohol at least once daily, during the first 3 months after birth.

Some mothers try to remove the dangers to their babies by pumping their milk directly after drinking alcohol, and dumping it. However, since it is the alcohol in the bloodstream that causes the alcohol content in the milk, it does nothing for either mother or baby. If the baby feeds soon after the mother drank alcohol, there is no change in the blood alcohol.

What Could Go Wrong

An article on alcohol and breastfeeding reviews a number of studies on this subject. According to The Nursling: The Feeding and Hygiene of Premature and Full-Term Infants, excessive alcohol intake by a nursing mother can cause unnatural weight gain in babies.

In one study, a mother was taking alcohol excessively, believing it would increase her milk production. Her baby gained 30 grams daily, became restless, and eventually had fits and seizures. His growth returned to normal when he was given to a wet nurse.

A study by Binkiewicz, Robinson, and Senior finds the same thing. A mother drinking 50 cans of beer weekly while breastfeeding reported unnatural weight gain in her baby. The baby looked bloated, and was not at normal length.

According to a study by Volpi and others, mothers had a harder time lactating after ingesting alcohol. If the regular prolactin production was at 71% when it was time to feed, for mothers who did not drink alcohol, it was at 25% for the mothers who had ingested alcohol.

What Is the Worst That Can Happen?

The worst that can happen to a baby who ingests alcohol from breast milk is alcohol poisoning. Unfortunately, this is also almost the instant effect of alcohol on breastfeeding infants. They are so small that excessive alcohol hits them like an overdose in an adult.

A baby’s body will absorb alcohol in less than half an hour. As the alcohol hits, the baby may become disoriented or unfocused, start to vomit, or even have seizures. They may suddenly have trouble breathing, and become unnaturally flushed (red). This is already a case for an emergency rush to the hospital.

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Is Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding Safe? Yes, With Conditions

Why show all the negative effects first? To explain that the suggestions for drinking wine while breastfeeding have a strong backing of studies behind them. If these suggestions are not followed, alcohol can and will affect the health of the breastfed child.

Condition #1: Wait 2-3 Hours Per 12 Grams of Alcohol

Consult before deciding on how long you will wait after the drink to breastfeed. The waiting time depends on your weight and the effect 12 grams of alcohol (1 glass of wine) would have on you. At the very least, wait 2.5 hours for every 12 grams consumed. This means that if you drink 48 grams (4 drinks, more or less), you need to wait 10 hours before breastfeeding.

Condition #2: If You Know You Will Drink Alcohol, Prepare in Advance

While pumping and dumping milk after drinking will not keep your baby safe, preparation will. If you know you will be drinking, at dinner or a house party or for any other reason, pump and store breast milk. You can then feed your baby breast milk even within the required time your body needs to flush the alcohol out of your system.

Condition #3: Always Take Your Baby’s Feeding Schedule into Account

If you are offered a drink but you did not prepare, and it is less than 3 hours until your baby’s next feeding, be polite but firm. “No thank you, I’m breastfeeding.” Say it as simply as you would say, “No thank you, I’m driving.” In this case, your baby’s health comes first. If you find yourself facing an unplanned drink, think of your baby’s schedule before answering.

You can actually time the drink (assuming it is just 1 drink, or 12 grams of alcohol) right after breastfeeding. Since your baby will be ready to feed in 2 to 3 hours, it’s likely the alcohol will have left your bloodstream by then. If you want to drink more than that, however, you will need to take the timing into account.

Why Ask A Lactation Consultant About Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding?

No breastfeeding mother should take on the questions of blood alcohol alone. Every mother is designed differently. Alcohol stays longer in some mothers’ bloodstreams than it does in others’. Alcohol also affects mothers differently according to weight. A lactation consultant can help a mother figure out the safest way to enjoy wine while breastfeeding.

A lactation consultant is, in many ways, a better sort of specialist to consult than OB/GYNs and pediatricians. A lactation consultant can educate mothers on the amount of alcohol that will find its way into the baby’s bloodstream through breast milk, and give medical advice on how to avoid letting alcohol into the baby’s system. His or her specialty is nothing less than the best way to keep mother and baby safe and healthy while breastfeeding.

A pregnant mother suffers from two things: diets and cravings. Pregnant women are faced with possibly the most rigorous dieting they have ever attempted. This time, something (or rather, someone) is clearly at stake: for a healthy baby, dieting is of paramount importance.

Unfortunately, the end of pregnancy is not a green light to abandon your diet for your normal 10 cups of coffee, 3 bars of chocolate, and everyday sushi set. You still need to think of what goes through your milk and into your baby’s body. Because of this, it is important for you to know exactly what not to eat while breastfeeding.

The Facts on What Not to Eat While Breastfeeding

There are two reasons that a mother should regulate the kind of foods she is taking in while breastfeeding. The first is for nutrition reasons. The wonder of mother’s milk is that it automatically has certain levels of nutrients it gives to the baby no matter what the mother is taking in. It even regulates most vitamins so that a mother can raise her vitamin levels without endangering her baby’s intake.

what not to eat while breastfeeding

According to Dr Katherine Dettwyler, breast milk quality is not dependent on what the mother is eating at the moment. Breastfeeding mothers all over the world give practically the same qualities of milk, no matter the differences in the diets.

Of course, there are some requirements. A mother should be eating a well-balanced diet, so she will not need any extra supplements. There are also some foods that should not be over-indulged in because the content can be harmful to the baby. The kind of fat contained in the milk, for example, needs to be watched by the mother.

The second reason for a mother to regulate her food intake is her baby’s comfort. Some babies react badly to foods their parents (or close relatives) have a history of allergies to. Some babies are sensitive to caffeine, to citrus fruits, to certain vegetables, and so forth. Mothers who avoid these foods do so for peace of mind.

What should mothers absolutely NOT do while breastfeeding? Go on a diet (reduce their calorie intake). If a pregnant mother eats for 2, a breastfeeding mother needs to eat at least 200 calories past that. The body is working 24/7 to produce milk for the baby, and it needs to constantly synthesize fluids and nutrients for that purpose.

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What Not to Eat While Breastfeeding

For Baby’s Health

For baby’s health, research your family’s medical backgrounds. If there are any foods either of the parents’ families are traditionally or historically allergic to, avoid those. The last thing you need is for your baby to have an allergic reaction even if neither of his or her parents are allergic to that food. Some common allergens are found in peanuts and dairy products.

Another food breastfeeding mothers need to be careful around is fish. This holds whether the fish is in sushi form, grilled, smoked,  fried, or canned. As fish grow older, they have a longer time in which to accumulate mercury in their bodies. That mercury content is eaten with the fish, and cannot be flash-frozen or fried out of it.

Mercury in high amounts becomes a neurotoxin, causing mercury poisoning. The neurotoxin may cause tingling all over the body, loss of feeling in some extremities (fingers, toes, arms, legs), and some losses in the senses of hearing and sight. Fish to avoid are swordfish, mackerel, tilefish, and tuna.

If you are thinking of taking vitamins A & E through supplements instead of food, beware that these supplements are fat-soluble. In other words, they will distribute themselves wherever there is fat content in your body. The breast is one of those places. If too much of these vitamins find their ways into breast milk, they may harm the baby.

For Baby’s Comfort

Unless the food is an allergen you know about, unfortunately you cannot know what your baby might or might not react to. However, there are some basic culprits you can immediately check for if your baby becomes fussy or has a bad reaction after breastfeeding.

Chocolate Products

For some reason, some babies strongly object to this food. Although the caffeine content is minimal and the sugar content slight (in dark chocolate), it can make babies restless. In some cases, the babies are unable to sleep at their normal times.

Strong Spices

Babies are also sensitive to spices that, to them, are strong-tasting. These include chili peppers, garlic, curry, cinnamon, onions, and ginger. When mixed with food, these spices enter the mother’s body and then the breast milk in trace amounts. The baby may respond through restlessness, or even through vomiting or diarrhea.

Certain Vegetables

These vegetables have a tendency to cause gas in those who eat them. They include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, and different kinds of pepper. Babies may also get restless and react badly to these vegetables.

Certain Citrus Fruits

While they are good sources of vitamin C, citrus fruits are slightly acidic as well. Oranges, limes, grapefruits, lemons, and their direct extracts (juices) can cause restlessness and reactions in the breastfeeding baby.

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How Can You Know What Your Baby Reacts To?

Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb on what not to eat while breastfeeding. After all, the foods outlined are basic spices or often make up the staples of a balanced diet. The best advice would be to stay aware of your baby’s reactions. If he or she seems to be reacting badly after breastfeeding, trace back the food you ate and lay off for a few weeks. You can then test the food to see if it was the reason, and adjust your diet accordingly.

Why Ask A Lactation Consultant What Not To Eat While Breastfeeding?

Lactation consultants are equipped to provide clinical expertise and advice on any and everything related to breastfeeding. That is, after all, their specialty. If in doubt, consult your local IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) on which foods would best suit your baby’s health and development. IBCLCs can also advise you on when and how to enjoy the foods you like without stressing your baby.

Caffeine plays a special role in daily life. It is a pick-me-up in the mornings when you need the energy, a good way to relax on a date, a comfort food on a hard day. It gives the needed boost and wakefulness for nighttime activities, and works just as well the next day. In other words, one does not need to be a coffee-fiend to enjoy a daily dose of caffeine in whatever amount.

However, breastfeeding mothers are predictably more cautious about their food and fluid intake. For a breastfeeding mother who loves her daily coffee, the overriding question is: Do coffee and breastfeeding mix? Can I drink coffee while breastfeeding? Will the caffeine harm her baby? Does she need to give up coffee as long as she is breastfeeding?

Worst Case Scenarios of Mixing Coffee and Breastfeeding

First and foremost, yes, there is such a thing as too much caffeine for breastfeeding mothers. Unregulated caffeine intake can cause dehydration, since caffeine turns solids into water and flushes them out. Too much caffeine can also have adverse effects on breastfeeding babies.

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While some websites assure mothers they have nothing to worry about and to continue their caffeine dosages, care must still be exercised. An article reviews the possible dangers of too much caffeine to breastfeeding babies.  

Scenario #1: Jitteriness in Babies

A study by Rivera-Calimlim called “Drugs in Breast Milk” in Drug Ther, looked at a 6 weeks old breastfed baby. His mother was drinking 1500 to 2000 mL of caffeine-containing drinks (coffee and cola) daily, supplemented by tea and cocoa.

While the baby was gaining the appropriate weight for his age, he was trembling excessively. This stopped when the mother was completely taken off caffeine. A similar study by Bailey, Welbert, and Naylor looked at a 5 months old baby whose mother drank 20 cups of coffee a day. The baby was observed to be unusually restless.

A doctor wrote her personal experience with caffeine and breastfeeding. While drinking an average of 10 caffeine-containing drinks daily, neither of her breastfeeding babies could sleep deeply or for long periods of time. They were also restless, and fretted easily. Another doctor, who drank up to 2 L of decaf a day, had a premature baby who went into episodic convulsions. These convulsions stopped when the coffee intake stopped.

Scenario #2: Not Enough Iron in Breastmilk

According to a study by Munoz, Lonnerdal, Keen, and Dewey, mothers who drank over 450 mL of coffee a day had lower levels of iron in their breast milk as compared to non-drinkers. Because of this, their babies had lower hemoglobin (carries oxygen to tissues and carbon dioxide out) and hematocrit (percentage of red blood cells inside the blood) levels compared to the babies of non-drinkers. This negatively impacted their overall growing health.

Does That Mean You Cannot Have Coffee While Breastfeeding?

No. It means that if you drink coffee and caffeinated drinks excessively, there will be definite harm to your child. However, if you are aware of certain facts and regulate your coffee intake, the baby should not even be wakeful throughout the night. There are exceptions to this rule as there are to every other, but these facts generally hold in most cases.

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Fact #1: Baby’s Age Matters

According to IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Kelly Bonyata, babies can only metabolize (absorb and eject) caffeine at the same rate as adults at a certain age. Until they are 3 months old, babies metabolize caffeine in up to 5.4 days. In other words, the caffeine can compound in their bodies.

From 3 to 5 months old, a baby will take around 14 hours, more than half a day, to metabolize caffeine. Past 5 months, however (give or take up to 9 months), the baby will metabolize the caffeine in 3 to 7 hours. That is the same rate as an adult. This does not lower the risks of caffeine in a baby’s system, only reduces its processing length.

Fact #2: The Recommended Caffeine Intake is 300 mg

Nutritionists did not pull that amount out of a hat. A study by Santos, Matijasevich, and Domingues looked at babies’ sleeping patterns when they were 3 months old. Mothers who took over 300 mg of caffeine in a day had more reports of their babies waking in the middle of the night. Mothers who took less reported normal wakefulness in their babies.

Because of this study, nutritionists advise 300 mg of caffeine a day or less is safe enough for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding mothers should consult on the appropriate amounts that they can drink in a single day.

How To Test Your Baby’s Reaction

Some babies will be more reactive to caffeine than the normal baby. If your baby is exhibiting wakefulness and restlessness even when you are drinking below 300 mg of coffee a day, take yourself off caffeine for a week or so. See if there are any changes to your baby’s behavior. If he begins to sleep well and is no longer jittery, re-introduce caffeine for a brief period.

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If the earlier symptoms return, then your baby is definitely reacting to the caffeine content in your drinks. Consult to see if there are fall-back alternatives you would like, or if you can find the happy medium of caffeine intake that will not disturb your baby. If you are not sure how to check your baby’s symptoms, consult on that as well.

Why Ask a Lactation Consultant About Coffee and Breastfeeding?

Lactation Consultants have a minimum requirement of 14 health science courses, 90 hours of lactation-specific education, and a minimum of 300 to 500 clinical practice hours. All of those requirements, plus a board exam, are fulfilled to enable them to become IBCLCs. Lactation consultants have one specialized job: to look after a breastfeeding mother and her child.

Lactation consultants are theoretically and clinically equipped to counsel, educate, and advise you on any questions you may have about breastfeeding. They can help you test the effects of caffeine on your baby, suggest caffeine alternatives, or find the daily caffeine intake that still ensures your baby’s comfort. Unlike general practitioners and pediatricians, their knowledge is highly specialized. They are more than equipped to answer questions on coffee and breastfeeding.

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In Australia, a Federal Circuit Court Judge passed an injunction that legally banned a mother from breastfeeding her 11-month baby because she had 2 tattoos placed while breastfeeding. The mother tested negative for HIV/AIDS in the bloodstream, but the judge stated the mother had put her baby at risk of getting blood-borne diseases.

In his decision, the judge referred to guidelines set by the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Those guidelines do caution against blood-borne infections caused by multiple-use pigments, and the possibility of HIV/AIDS transmission through contaminated needles. Regardless, it drew much comment and protest. This begs the question: medically speaking, can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

What Are the Medical Risks of Getting a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

What are the medical risks of getting a tattoo in general? Let us take a look at some of these, and understand the hype on the issue. Later on, we will focus on the central question of this article: can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

First, tattoos are often permanent pigments inserted below several layers of skin in patterns. To ensure permanency, the ink is placed deep enough that it leaks into the bloodstream (there is actually some bleeding while the tattoo is placed). This automatically makes it a health risk for blood-borne diseases. What are the most general risks of getting a tattoo?

Skin Infections

Depending on the cleanliness and sterilization of the clinic, the equipment, and the pigments, a tattooed person is at risk of skin infections. The most dangerous tattoo-induced skin infections are leprosy, tetanus, HIV, and hepatitis B and C. All of these are blood-borne and can be transmitted in unclean environments.

Skin Allergies

Unfortunately, most people getting tattoos will not know which pigments they are allergic to until they actually get the tattoo. Green, red, and yellow dyes often cause skin allergies. Those getting the tattoo can get itchy rashes on the site where ink was inserted. Sometimes, the rash stays for months or longer. Other times, years later, the chemical breakdown causes the rash.

Which Kinds Count in Breastfeeding?

Unless the allergic reaction is so violent as to cause fever and sickness, a mother’s skin allergy should not find its way to the baby through breastmilk. What is most dangerous for the baby is the possibility of contracting a blood-borne disease. While babies cannot contract the cold or flu from their mothers, they can contract a bacterial infection from the breast milk.

The Scientific Debate: Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

An article by Robyn Roche-Paul and Karen Spicer–both IBCLCs–in LEAVEN in 2005 looks at various studies on the compatibility of tattoos and breastfeeding. First, they state that tattoos that exist before the woman starts breastfeeding have no discernible effect on breast milk whatsoever.

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As long as they are not too recent, it is unlikely any tattoo-induced infection would remain in the bloodstream. However, if a mother does choose to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, she would be exposed to the normal dangers of the tattoo process.

There is an increased risk of infection, in a sense, because it is also up to the mother to maintain the tattooed area so that infection does not set in. This may be grounds for protest: that the mother got a tattoo despite the increased risk of infection automatically run.

An article by Roy Benaroch, MD in 2013 agrees with the earlier conclusion. As long as the mother is aware of the sterilization and cleanliness procedures that a tattoo artist should follow, the danger of blood-borne infections is nil (besides the mother’s responsibility afterwards). Also, so far, no studies have shown that tattoo ink is bad for the baby.

On the other hand, an article by Brett Israel in Environmental Health News cautions against the presence of heavy metals in tattoo ink. Ink often contains cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, titanium, and others. They make it into the bloodstream during the tattoo process.

While an IBCLC has said tattoos while breastfeeding are not harmful, she also cautions against the heavy metals in tattoo ink. There have been no studies yet that prove whether or not they make it into breast milk, but they definitely enter the mother’s bloodstream.

Supporting that side of the debate is an article by Friends of the Earth Australia. They point out that 60% of tattoo inks tested in Europe were pulled from the market, and that a 3-by-5 inch tattoo can hold up to 1.23 micrograms of lead in the ink. They also point out that black ink is a health risk for spreading carcinogens into the skin.  

The Debate Conclusion

In truth, many professional tattoo artists will even refuse to tattoo mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. While adverse effects of tattoos on breastfeeding mothers are not yet proved, the already existing risks are as good a reason as any to wait before getting a tattoo.

Mothers should not only take into account the infection risks, but also the risks of heavy metals finding their ways into the bloodstream and therefore into breast milk. In short, it depends on the informed consent of the mother.

Why Ask a Lactation Consultant for Help on Getting Tattoos While Breastfeeding?

An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is, according to the International Lactation Consultant Association, not just an advocate and facilitator of breastfeeding mothers. An IBCLC is also a clinical expert and an educator. They are trained to give counsel on a mother’s medical health, and discuss issues related to breastfeeding.

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IBCLCs are the perfect people to consult because their specialty is breastfeeding. They are completely focused on a mother’s concerns related to breastfeeding. Unlike OB/GYNs and Pediatricians, they can give more detailed and knowledgeable information on the subject because it is the sole focus of their work.

Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

So, to summarize: Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding? Yes and no. No one knows just how much the tattoo ink composition could harm a breastfeeding mother and her baby. However, given the circumstantial evidence on the topic, it seems that it would be better for mothers to wait until their babies are weaned before getting a tattoo. In all cases, when in doubt, you should get an informed opinion from a doctor, health professional, or IBCLC.

When women become pregnant their doctors automatically advise a diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help the baby’s development as much as possible. On the other hand, some are confused about which artificial drugs or medicines they can prescribe for mothers.

Since the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) does not allow drug companies to ask lactating women to join studies, there are very few scientific studies that we can fall back on. However, there are some drugs we can already advise on, such as Xanax. Let us look at what happens when Xanax and breastfeeding mix.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a brand name of the generic drug alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine. That simply means that it belongs to the family of drugs that is used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. It is best to use Xanax only when prescribed by the doctor, and following the prescription exactly.

Xanax may be habit-forming, so following the prescription is important. It is also dangerous enough to cause addiction, and even severe illness or death when overdosed on. Xanax is also a sedative, which makes its users sleepy or unfocused. It also slows their reactions, making it dangerous for them drive and other related activities while on Xanax.

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Xanax has been expressly forbidden for pregnant mothers. The drug is strong enough to cause possible birth defects, and the unborn baby may develop an addiction to it. The doctor must be told at once if you suspect you are pregnant.

Do Xanax and Breastfeeding Mix?

In a study by Oo, Kuhn, and Desai, in Br J Clin Pharmacol, looking at the maternal levels of alprazolam in mothers’ breast milk after a daily dose of 0.5 mg of the drug, they found that the half-life of alprazolam in the milk is long: 14.5 hours, more than half a day. After taking the drug, mothers need to wait at least this time period before breastfeeding their babies.

Later evidence of the effects of Xanax on breastfeeding babies was gathered from current cases, not through studies and tests. In one case found in a letter by scientists Anderson and McGuire, an infant 1 week old showed signs of withdrawal from the drug (irritability, restlessness, anxiety) after he stopped breastfeeding. His mother had been taking alprazolam after delivery. The case suggests the drug was in her milk in a strong enough dosage to cause some dependency.

Another case is of a baby 9 months old, whose mother was taken off alprazolam. For 2 weeks after the mother was completely off the drug, the baby showed withdrawal symptoms. He would cry randomly, was irritable, and slept fitfully.

Babies have also been known to fall heavily asleep during or after breastfeeding, reacting to the sedating side effects of the drug. When they wake up, they are unusually upset, anxious, and irritable. These stress factors sometimes lead to weight loss in the baby. In other words, Xanax and breastfeeding do not mix.

What If I Need to Use Xanax?

If you need to use it regularly or over a set period of time, you might need to consider weaning your baby or consulting your doctor or IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to see if you can get another kind.

However, if you have been prescribed the drug for single use only, take it after pumping, freezing, and storing enough milk for a 14+ hour wait. You can also use bottle-fed formula milk for those times. Simply prepare in advance for your baby’s feeding.

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If you have not yet weaned your baby (taken baby off breast milk), and are not in the process of weaning, you are probably planning to still breastfeed your baby after the Xanax dose. In that case, use a breast pump during regular feeding times to signal the breasts to keep producing milk. Dump the milk drawn over those times, until the half-life is done.

Alternatives to Xanax for Breastfeeding Mothers

A study of breastfeeding mothers with 124 infants total among them was undertaken by scientists Kelly, Poon, Madadi, and Koren in a study in J Pediatr. In that study, all the breastfeeding mothers were currently taking benzodiazepines. 52% of the mothers were taking lorazepam, 18% were taking clonazepman, and 15% were taking midazolam.

Of the babies currently breastfeeding, only 2 became sedated after nursing. One of the 2 nursing mothers was on alprazolam (Xanax), while the other was on multiple anti-depressant drugs. The other mothers did not report any kind of sedation occurring in their infants after their breastfeeding times.

However, these benzodiazepines are still labelled high-potency, and they will enter the breast milk. Taking these Xanax alternatives must still be by prescription, and the precautions outlined for mothers taking benzodiazepines in one-time use should still be followed. When it comes to baby’s safety, no risks should be taken.

Why Can You Ask A Lactation Consultant About Xanax and Breastfeeding?

Sometimes, especially in the news, lactation consultants are negatively portrayed–even called “Lactation Police.” This is a terrible perception that does not take into account what IBCLCs need to go through simply to get their titles. Lactation consultants must have spent hundreds of hours simply studying the theories of lactation and in clinical practice. The minimum that some lactation consultants must spend in clinical practice is 300 hours.

Lactation consultants are trained to have a single specialty: the health, welfare, and happiness of a mother who wants to breastfeed and her baby who is breastfeeding. They are equipped to give advice, counsel, and support to mothers. They can even advise and counsel on what mothers should and should not take while breastfeeding–and this includes drugs like Xanax.

Conclusion: Err on the Side of Safety

With all the evidence laid out, the decision is still yours, as the breastfeeding mother. If you do not feel comfortable taking Xanax while breastfeeding, then you do not have to take it. At the end of the day, after consulting and researching, if the doctor prescribed the drug then you can decide to take it. However, for your safety and your breastfed baby’s, always make a fully informed, regulated decision in questions like these.

Can You Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

The answer is yes. However, breastfeeding mothers should pay attention to the preparation of the sushi they are eating. They should go to restaurants who only use flash-frozen fish for their sushi, and only order sushi and sashimi made of fish low in mercury.

If you are a sushi-lover, the hardest thing about pregnancy will be the diet. Sushi is not encouraged for pregnant women, because of the high amounts of mercury in some kinds of fish that might harm the baby’s growth and development. While you may take some kinds of fish in moderation, the risk is high enough that some doctors still suggest total abstention from sushi during pregnancy.

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After the baby is born, then, you might run straight to your favorite sushi restaurant to imbibe all the sushi you were craving for 9 months. Slow down a minute to read this article. As a new mother, you are still responsible for what your baby receives from your breast milk. Now is the time to ask the question: Can you eat sushi while breastfeeding?

The Dangers of Eating Sushi While Breastfeeding

The “health” revolution is all about raw and free-range: raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables, free-range chickens (and eggs), free-range cows (and milk). It was inevitable that sushi would join the revolution. It is certainly raw, and at least the non-farmed fish are certainly free-range. Because of the lack of preservatives and artificial flavoring (except what the consumers add), it is now a traditional fall-back food for consumers who want to eat healthy.

The main danger of sushi is that it is still considered raw food. Because of this, any parasites that get into the raw fish stay in there if the food is not prepared correctly. Sushi is required to be flash-frozen before it is shipped to the United States. Flash-freezing raw fish makes it too instantly cold for parasites to grow, and kills any parasites

However, there are some fish in the market considered sushi-ready because they are “fresh-caught,” and therefore have not yet been frozen. Such fish have more of a chance to become parasite-infested. Slow-freezing in the regular freezer does not kill parasites, and is too slow to prevent their growth. Here are the possible dangers of eating sushi while breastfeeding.

First, anisakiasis is parasite larva that causes similar effects to food poisoning within 24 hours of ingestion. Another is diphyllobothriasis, caused by a tapeworm found in sea bass, salmon, pike, and trout. It can cause lowered levels of Vitamin B12, and anemia (lack of iron). These only occur in fish that have not been flash-frozen, which consumers cannot know without asking.

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Besides these parasites, there is a risk of mercury poisoning whether or not the fish has been flash-frozen or not. In other words, the main danger that a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is facing is mercury poisoning. The types of fish most often used to make sushi, such as tuna and marlin, are quite high in mercury content.

Mercury is a neurotoxin (attacks the nervous system) when released into the bloodstream. The person affected may have some difficulty performing simple functions like walking, listening, and seeing. There may be tingling along the nervous system, and lack of coordination. This can get into the bloodstream, and therefore into a mother’s breast milk.

The Debate: Can You Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

The majority of studies are on eating sushi while pregnant. Most studies are clear on the fact that pregnant women should not eat sushi at all. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, not only will any mercury intake find its way into the developing baby’s body, the food poisoning it mimics can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea.

This dehydrates the mother, sometimes to dangerous levels. For this reason, sushi must be cooked before eating, or avoided altogether. On the other hand, after the birth, the York Region Health Connection in Canada says that mothers no longer need to avoid sushi. Still, they do advise low intake of fish in general to lower the mercury content.

However, a joint study by the Government of South Australia and Women’s & Children’s Hospital says differently. One of the concerns is the disease listeriosis, and can be passed through breast milk and cause illness in the baby. Because of this, they advise mothers to avoid raw oysters and sashimi altogether, and smoked salmon and oysters. Only well-cooked or canned seafood can be eaten.

The Department of Health in the New York City government released a Guide for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women and Young Children. They advise breastfeeding mothers to lower their intake of fish, and to watch the levels of mercury in the fish they are eating. Mothers, as adults, can eat 4-6 ounces of fish in a single serving. The servings they eat in a week depend on the fish mercury levels.

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Who to Consult on Eating Sushi While Breastfeeding

Because of the confusion on the debate and the lack of studies on eating sushi while breastfeeding, mothers need to know who to go to ask the question: can you eat sushi while breastfeeding? The three kinds of people who can be consulted are obstetrician-gynecologists, lactation consultants, and nutritionists.

Obstetrician-Gynecologists

OB/GYNs, as they are called, would be the first to advise mothers against sushi and sashimi intake during pregnancy. They may also have additional insights and advice for mothers who want to know if the baby’s’ health will be compromised if they eat sushi while breastfeeding. Mothers may easily and quickly consult their OB/GYNs for their advice, or to ask who else they may refer to.

Lactation Consultants

Lactation consultants are breastfeeding experts, and go through a lengthy training process and pass a board exam to become IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants). They can not only help mothers having difficulty breastfeeding, but they can also offer advice to mothers on nutrition and health for their babies as they breastfeed.

Nutritionists

Nutritionists are a good back-up source to OB/GYNs and IBCLCs. Their focus is on the nutrition content and servings needed for safe and healthy eating. Mothers can go to them for advice and instruction on how much fish it is safe to eat in a certain period of time, and for knowledge on food preparation and mercury content.

smoking-weed-while-breastfeedingMarijuana legalization in Colorado and other states has restarted the debate on the benefits and ill effects of “weed.” Currently, medical studies show that the cannabis weed–where marijuana is drawn from–can be used as a painkiller, to manage epilepsy, and even to calm PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) patients.

At the same time, it is also known that marijuana is responsible for a “high.” That in itself becomes cautionary. Smoking marijuana increases the heart rate to twice as fast as normal for more than 2 hours. As it is smoking in general, it can lead to lung problems and infections.

Dizziness is normal, as is shallow breathing, a slower reaction time in general, unfocused thinking, and so forth. It is also addictive, without a doubt. 1 in every 10 users become dependent on it. Also, despite causing a fuzzy, relieving high, it can worsen states of depression, anxiety, and psychosis. So, is smoking weed while breastfeeding safe?

Why Is Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding An Issue?

What has been definitely proven is that marijuana taken by the breastfeeding mother, in any form (smoke, brownies, tea), will make it into the baby’s body. Breastfeeding babies whose mothers take marijuana show tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; the chemicals that induce a high) in their urine. There is no other way they could have taken in the chemicals except through breast milk.

THC is a chemical that is “fat-soluble”–in other words, when it enters the bloodstream, it stores itself in the user’s fat. A mother’s breast milk is only 4.2 grams fat in every 100 milliliters, but the calorie content is 70 grams, and it mostly comes from the fat content. When the mother takes in THC, it dissolves wherever it finds fat: including breast milk. Therefore, the baby takes in THC. Smoking weed While breastfeeding definitely has some effect.

Is Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding Safe?

First of all, there is a noted lack of studies in this area. There are so many factors besides THC that could lead to lower motor and speech development, and even apathy, in breastfeeding babies. The problem is that there is almost no study that could isolate the specific effects of marijuana in those babies. However, it is important for mothers and families, new and old, to know the possible dangers that marijuana can pose to a breastfeeding baby. Only then may an informed choice be made.

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Science on Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding

In Favor

In a 1990 study by SJ Astley and RE Little published in Neurotoxicol Teratol, they studied 136 babies breastfeeding until 1 year old. Exactly half, or 68 babies, were breastfeeding from mothers who were taking marijuana at the time. The other exact half were breastfeeding from mothers who did not touch marijuana while they were feeding their babies.

They discovered that at 1 year old, the 68 babies taking in marijuana through their mothers’ milk had lower motor development (less maturity in motion) than the 68 who were not. Since the mothers’ marijuana intake was regular, it was suggested constant intake could cause such problems.

Another study by Mohican Ranganathan and 6 other authors was published in Psychopharmacology (Berl) in 2009. It looked at the effect of cannabinoids (the chemicals in marijuana, including THC) on certain hormone levels, especially prolactin (the hormone that signals the mother to produce breastmilk). The study had 36 healthy individuals, and 40 regular users of marijuana.

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What the study discovered was that there was a significant effect on prolactin in frequent marijuana users. Prolactin was decreased and suppressed in those marijuana users. For breastfeeding mothers, it means less prolactin in the bloodstream, less signals to a mother’s body to make breast milk, and less breast milk in general. In other words, smoking weed while breastfeeding is not safe.

Against

On the other side of the debate is a study by Katherine Tennes and 6 more authors on the effects of marijuana intake on babies before and after birth, and during breastfeeding. There were 498 non-users of marijuana, and 258 users in the study. Before birth, there was no noticeable effect on the babies’ growth and development.

After birth, there was no difference in baby response and development when comparing non-users to light, medium, and heavy marijuana users. Even in the follow-up study in one year, there was no difference in the motor or intellectual development of the babies who were breastfed by mothers taking marijuana. The weaning age was normal, as was the expected weight of the babies.

A study supporting these findings was more incidental. Ilet, KF and 4 other scientists conducted a study on the effects of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine on babies who received the chemicals through breast milk. During the study, they discovered that some mothers had been using marijuana while breastfeeding. The study eventually concluded that there was no damage or change in the babies, even those who were drinking from mothers taking marijuana.

Who Can You Consult On Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding?

With these scientific studies seemingly contradicting each other, mothers need to know who they can go to for information and support. At least, before using or deciding not to use marijuana, they will be informed enough to make a clear, personal decision.

Your Obstetrician-Gynecologist

OB/GYNs, as they are often nick-named, are not just doctors who help deliver babies. Their specialization is the health of both baby and mother while the baby is still in the stomach. They carefully study what might damage the babies in the wombs, and what might continue until after they are born. They can be consulted on the possible dangers of taking marijuana while breastfeeding.

Your Lactation Consultant

Lactation consultants are a less-known force in the medical world, but they may be even more helpful than the local pediatric clinic or OB/GYN. Their specialization is nothing less than helping mothers and advising them in a counseling and even medical role on breastfeeding.

Look for an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) after the name. It means they have completed the many requirements needed to take the board exam, and have passed the exam. They are qualified to instruct you on breastfeeding and any other related questions.

Your Local Mother-to-Mother Support Group

Sometimes, you know the studies and simply need support in your decision. Or, you need to at least have opinions from mothers who have gone through the same decision-making. You can go to your local mother-to-mother support group. La Leche League is one of those, and there are other local and international places you can find to help.

Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding: Err on the Side of Safety

For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in general, erring on the side of safety is the best decision–you can continue to buy your bong from your online headshop, but maybe switch to tobacco. However, this decision remains fully personal as long as scientific studies do not lean one way or another on this issue. At the end of the day, turn to the right people to consult, and make an informed decision on this issue. 

Not being able to get pregnant is in a list by Parenting on Old Wives’ Tales on pregnancies. It has long been held traditionally that breastfeeding mothers cannot get pregnant. This may have been true in days when mothers used to breastfeed exclusively. However, in this new modern era, when mothers and hospitals are more likely to use formula on small babies, this is no longer as true.

The situation differs from mother to mother. After all, when it comes to the science and medicine, there is no one-size-fits-all kind of action. However, scientifically, there are certain ways that make it more likely that breastfeeding will act as a natural contraceptive. So let’s look at the science behind breastfeeding and ovulation, to answer the question: can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

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The Science: Prolactin and Lactational Amenorrhea

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, and released into the bloodstream (often called the “milk hormone”). When a woman becomes pregnant, her prolactin levels rise by as much as 10 to 20 times her normal level. Prolactin is the hormone that helps make breast milk in pregnant mothers.

To keep the prolactin levels high, a mother has to breastfeed regularly and continuously. It signals the body to keep producing the hormone for regular milk production. High levels of prolactin also suppress the hormones that enable ovulation and egg growth and maturity. In this way, they play a part in lessening (not stopping) fertility.

When there is no ovulation, and therefore no chance for a menstrual cycle to start, the condition is called amenorrhea. However, there is a specific kind of amenorrhea that occurs when a mother is breastfeeding. This kind is lactational amenorrhea. Because the prolactin levels increase, suppressing the ovulation and egg growth cycles, amenorrhea occurs.

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The Application: Breastfeeding and Natural Family Planning

Because of lactational amenorrhea, natural family planners have come up with the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of Family Planning, or LAM. This focuses on naturally inducing prolactin levels to remain high, so that a mother continues to have reduced fertility after her pregnancy. Traditionally, mothers should not get pregnant at all during breastfeeding.

Scientifically, however, there are certain conditions that need to exist for a couple to be able to use LAM. According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action or WABA, there are 3 conditions that must be present if a woman wants to use LAM.

Condition #1: The Mother Still has Lactational Amenorrhea

For the first 56 days after childbirth, very light bleeding or spotting is normal. For those days, it is not likely that ovulation has begun or that the amenorrhea has ended. If there is regular bleeding after those days in the nature of a menstrual cycle, the mother has begun to ovulate again. The LAM cannot be used anymore.

What the LAM tries to do is to postpone the return of the woman’s body to its regular fertility cycles. Once it begins again, the fertility cycle has officially begun again. It cannot be easily postponed or halted after that. Therefore, it is best for the mother to begin LAM as soon as she begins to breastfeed.

Condition #2: The Mother is Feeding the Baby on Demand

For LAM to work, the mother should be feeding the baby whenever he needs feeding, not placing him on a strict schedule. She should also be feeding him regularly throughout the night, instead of teaching the baby to sleep through it. No formula or other liquids should be fed to him, so that he will always be looking for milk.

In that way, the body will be encouraged to produce as much prolactin as possible. As the prolactin levels remain high, lactational amenorrhea will be induced and the mother should be less able to conceive.

Condition #3: It’s Been Less than 6 Months Since Birth

Mothers who are breastfeeding exclusively and unrestrictedly can maintain their lactational amenorrhea for up to 6 months. Past 6 months of birth, babies are expected to start on some more solid foods, and the mother will have less of a chance to use LAM.

As long as it has been less than 6 months since the birth, and the first 2 conditions were met, a mother can use LAM. In some mothers, the period of infertility will extend past a year. In others, the period will not last past 6 months.

How Effective is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of Family Planning?

In studies conducted independently by the Institute for Reproductive Health and by Family Health International (cited in WABA), LAM is just as effective as artificial contraceptive methods. In a total of 4 studies, the effectivity rate was 99.4%

More specifically, one study was conducted in Chile, by the Institute for Reproductive Health. For 422 breastfeeding mothers, the LAM came out 99.5% effective, with 1 pregnancy occurring. A similar study conducted in the Philippines by Family Health International had 485 respondents. The method was 99% effective, with 2 pregnancies.

Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

So can you get pregnant while breastfeeding? The answer is yes. If prolactin is not being produced because you are not regularly breastfeeding, or if prolactin levels have lowered because the baby is now on solids (or you are using supplements), lactational amenorrhea will end. Using LAM simply reduces the possibility by 99%.

What If It Is Hard to Breastfeed?

Because there are less mothers, doctors, and nurses who either have breastfed or intensively studied breastfeeding, new mothers today are suffering from a shortage of knowledge. You might be thinking of LAM after your first child, or you are on your second or third child and want to use LAM.

However, you have always had some difficulties with breastfeeding your baby. The answer that would make the most sense is to seek professional help in the form of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). IBCLCs go through intensive training in both theoretical and practical skills.

Their one and only job is expertly helping breastfeeding mothers. Whether the problem is medical, emotions- or stress-related, they can help mothers who have a hard time producing milk or have a difficult time feeding their babies.

Science Vs. The Old Wives’ Tale

There was a time when that Old Wives’ Tale had some truth to it, and it still does. Now that we know the science behind breastfeeding and pregnancy, we can take advantage of the knowledge to implement natural family planning.