One of the questions that I’m most asked is “if I know I’m planning for a baby, and I want to make sure I have insurance for my child, how do I go about getting health insurance?” This is a handy guide we’ve created for those of you looking to get insurance during open enrollment this year.

Open enrollment is a term that literally means open season for you on health insurance plans, especially if you opt to self-insure instead of, or in addition to, an employment-related plan. Here are some things you need to know to navigate this sometimes dangerous journey.

What happens during open enrollment?

Both state and private health care providers reassess their rates and premiums, and change prices of healthcare packages based on new laws or medical trends. Open enrollment is the time when you can purchase health insurance, or make changes according to your needs or the changes in the insurance package prices. It only happens once a year.

What’s the difference between a PPO and an HMO?

If you are looking to enroll for the first time or change healthcare providers, this is a relevant question. An HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization, has an existing network of participating hospitals and health care providers. A health insurance plan with an HMO will require you to choose a primary care physician (also called a PCP), and see specialists only within that existing network. A PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization, provides coverage without requiring you to choose a PCP, or stay within an existing network. However, you’ll find that in comparing HMOs and PPOs, its flexibility usually requires a higher premium than that of an HMO.

When am I eligible for open enrollment?

If your company has more than 50 employees in total, they should offer an open enrollment period. If you or your family buy health insurance directly from companies or from Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, they also automatically offer a period of open enrollment.

What happens if I miss open enrollment for health insurance?

If you have chosen to auto-renew your health insurance plan every year, it will simply renew itself; with possible changes in the premium or the plan depending on the law or the marketplace. Otherwise, you may actually lose coverage. Your HR may have additional options, or you may attempt to enroll in Medicaid or a short-term health insurance plan. To avoid the confusion, it’s best to enroll during open enrollment.

Is Open Enrollment for Medicare?

Medicare, government-backed health insurance for seniors aged 65 and older, has separate enrollment periods. The main enrollment period is called the annual enrollment period and lasts from October 15th to December 7th each year. If you’re interested in Medicare and want a private plan, you should start by researching the difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage.

What are deductibles and how do they work?

Not knowing how deductibles work could be costly to you, especially if you are or want to be self-insured. A deductible is an amount you have to pay out when something happens that requires health insurance. It is your out-of-pocket cost before the plan kicks in and you start receiving benefits. On one hand, it usually gives you higher insurance limits. On the other hand, if you’ve misjudged your budget, it may be heavy on the pocket when something arises. Ask explicitly about your health insurance plans deductibles if you self-insure.

What is an out-of-pocket maximum?

This is also called the out-of-pocket limit, and it protects you from paying more than you choose to budget for your deductibles and sometimes co-insurance. Co-insurance means you pay for a percentage of certain health costs. You can only set or change this, along with any deductibles and agreements on co-insurance, during open enrollment.

What is telemedicine and how can I add it to my plan?

Telemedicine is the growing branch of healthcare that allows medical diagnoses and follow-ups to be done over the phone or on a video call. Talking to a telemedicine operator may help you determine whether or not to go to a healthcare institution, or to seek specialized help. It can also help you with follow-ups so you don’t need to return to the institution. You may ask your healthcare provider if this can be added to your coverage during open enrollment.

Can I get coverage for preventive care?

Preventive care usually includes screening and tests that help in early diagnosis. The earlier a condition is caught, the sooner it can be treated, and the less it costs in the long run. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider if preventive care is included in the coverage, and how you can avail of it if possible. Many times preventive care is included but not specifically pointed out, so this will help you know when you can have check-ups and screenings for free.

What is a qualifying life event?

Aside from open enrollment, there are times when you can apply for health insurance during special enrollment. Special enrollment opens when you experience a life change that affects your insurance or that of your family, called a qualifying life event. These include change or loss of employment, additions to the family through marriage or birth, age (turning 26), or change of address.

Who qualifies as my dependent?

Under your employee health coverage, your family members can be registered as long as you declare them. These include spouses, domestic partners (if the employer allows), and biological, adopted, or foster children until they are 26 years old. If allowed, they can be registered through special employment. Otherwise, it’s best to do all the registration you need to do during open enrollment.

While breastfeeding is dubbed to be best for babies, a lot of women are not too confident with breastfeeding in public. For one, this sometimes draw unwanted attention especially from male strangers which render a lot of breastfeeding moms self-conscious and anxious instead of being encouraged to nurse her baby.

While it is understandable to be hesitant of breastfeeding in public, you should be aware that you are allowed by the law to do so. Federal law entitles you to breastfeed anywhere with your baby. Regardless of what state you live in, you have the right to nurse your baby in public.  A recent legislation also provides more support for breastfeeding as it allows you to nurse even on federal property. You may also be allowed to breastfeed during breaks at work and is also exempted from violation of laws concerning indecent exposure. In addition, day-care centers are also now required to have nursing facilities.


Now that you are in the loop of your rights as a breastfeeding mom, here are some the best tips for breastfeeding in public that can go handy right about anywhere:

  • Practice breastfeeding at home. Get in front of a mirror and practice public breastfeed so you will know how to position yourself properly and avoid distractions. Practice a couple of times a day to get it going right once you are able to do it in public. Turn the side and see how much exposed (or not) you are when breastfeeding. Ask your partner to check out your breastfeeding practice to see if it needs more improvement. Do this a couple of times and you’ll be all set for public breastfeeding.
  • Choose less-chaotic places to breastfeed. For starters, you can try breastfeeding in less-crowded areas to get a feel of how it is to do it in public. Once you get comfortable, you can breastfeed even in crowded malls or even while traveling on a public transport.
  • Wear nursing bras or tank tops. There are wardrobes and undergarments which are designed for easy breastfeeding even in public. These nursing tops or bras can be easily unhooked or unfastened without revealing too much of your breast while nursing your baby in public. This gives you more confidence and avoid unwarranted attention from bystanders while breastfeeding your little one in public.
  • Use a nursing blanket or cover. If you are wearing a sling to hold your baby, you can breastfeed with that as a cover. Also, you can use nursing shawls or blankets that will help you be more comfortable with breastfeeding especially at the first few months of trying it out in public.
  • Put your baby in carriers, wraps, or slings. This does not just provide ease in carrying your baby while you are mobile but this can also help you carry your little one while breastfeeding in public. The great thing with slings and wraps is that you can easily breastfeed in stealth mode while on the move and no one would even think you’re doing so.

public breastfeeding

There you go – easy and doable tips to get you breastfeeding in public. If you feel nervous and awkward while doing it, keep in mind that this is for your baby’s health and not for other people. Focus on your baby and if there are people who would stare at you, remember too that most of the time this is because of admiration and not of disgust. Some would be curious but this is pretty normal. The way to handle the situation is to smile and go about your business. A breastfeeding mom is a panoramic view that no landscape of this earth can ever outshine.  Be confident while breastfeeding in public and you’ll surely get the hang of it in less time.

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.


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.


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.

Your baby’s nursery certainly lies on your crafty hands. There are tons of ideas about designing a newborn’s room, furniture to include, and equipment or essentials needed for mom and baby. Aside from the aesthetic concerns of making a newborn’s room cute and comfy by matching colorful palettes and cartoon character details – safety and comfort still comes as top priority on every parent’s checklist.

Check out the Top Baby Equipment and Essentials that Should be in Every Newborn’s Room

Cribs or Bassinets

This is one of the first items that you need to put inside your newborn’s room. Don’t go for anything that’s just fancy or colorful – buy a crib for its durability, comfort, and safety. Whether you have a new crib or hand-me-downs, you should check every detail and make sure that it is safe and comfortable for your baby to sleep on. Get a firm mattress to match your crib. Make sure that it fits snugly to avoid suffocation incidents. Check the side rails, hardware, and screws to make sure everything is in place and there are no damages whatsoever.


Breastfeeding Pillow

If you are breastfeeding your newborn, this will definitely come handy especially for first time moms who are still trying to get into the groove of ensuring the right latch. Using the breastfeeding pillow ensures that you are providing the right support for your baby while nursing. This also offers different levels of support when you are handling your baby or breastfeeding as it has a soft and firm side. This keeps your baby in the proper height and angle when nursing to keep you both in a comfortable position.


Investing in a cool-mist humidifier is a must for every newborn’s room. It provides your baby a healthy, fresh, and well-moistened environment that combats the dry air and eradicates pollutants as well as harmful microbes in the air. More so, having a humidifier provides that white noise which soothes baby and helps with promoting long restful sleep. Check out this best humidifier for a baby based on user reviews.

Baby Monitor

Having a baby monitor helps you with juggling chores around the house while keeping an eye on your baby. A monitor that has two receivers is convenient as you can put one in the bedroom and another in the kitchen or your home office so you can multitask effectively while keeping your baby monitored all throughout the day so you can see whether he or she needs to change nappies or wants to breastfeed.

Burp Clothes

You can use this as a no-fuss must-have for burping and cleaning up your newborn. These are very inexpensive when bought in bulk. Cloth diapers can also function as burp clothes. Baby clothes that are well-fitting to your newborn’s size must also be easy to attach and remove to provide convenience and comfort for your little ones.

Breast Pumps and Accessories

It’s definitely a good thing that the Affordable Care Act now covers the rental and purchase of breast pumps and its accessories. Avoid using hand-me-downs when choosing breast pumps to avoid any health problems in the future.  Whether you opt for electric or hand-operated breast pumps, you should always consider what works for you and your baby’s needs. Using breast pumps help you nourish your baby with breast milk even when you are out for an errand or off to work.


Being a mom is said to be both a gift and a privilege. Your baby deserves the best from the very first day of life. Breastfeeding your baby is the optimal choice to ensure health and cultivate bonding between a mother and her newborn. Make use of the above checklist to know what nursery items must be put in high priority on your newborn’s room.

There is nothing as pure and serene than the sight of a mom nursing her baby to sleep. Breastfeeding is the cornerstone of life as it shapes a baby’s present and future from day one. Valuing life is the epitome of breastfeeding and it is definitely worth celebrating. It’s the World’s Breastfeeding Week for 2016 and it has the slogan which promotes breastfeeding as the key to achieving sustainable development goals.

World Breastfeeding Week 2016

How is sustainability linked to breastfeeding? Sustainable development construes improvement that meets the present needs of this generation without halting or putting risk on meeting the needs of the future generation. This revolves on three aspects – equity, ecology, and economy. Breastfeeding is said to provide optimum nourishment for babies while also impressing upon emotional and psychological bond between mothers and their babies. In this case, breastfeeding is indeed the key to sustainable development because it is integrated with the fulfillment of health, food and nutrition security, survival, and development that could span from generation to generation.

Breastfeeding is also an economic and environmentally friendly option for moms as compared to feeding from bottles. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week are focused primarily on ending malnutrition and hunger and promoting healthy well-being which is deeply anchored on breastfeeding as a sustainable option for both moms and babies. This also promotes and supports breastfeeding programs and affiliations all over the world.

US Breastfeeding Statistics

In the United States, breastfeeding has become increasingly popular and thus produced many advocates from moms who would want to exclusively breastfeed their babies before returning to work. In 2011, around 79% of newborns started breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding efforts for babies born in 2011 did not continue as recommended – 49% were breastfed for 6 months while 27% were breastfed for a year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourages and motivates more women to initiate and continue with breastfeeding their newborn babies. A number of breastfeeding programs and initiatives were in place like the Best Fed Beginnings (BFB) which supports skin-to-skin contact of baby and mom right after delivery. This helps new moms begin with breastfeeding and feel comfortable about the whole setup. More so, state child care regulations are also in full support of on-site breastfeeding. Breastfeeding communities are also in full bloom as health professionals like Board Certified Lactation Consultant (BCLC) and Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC) are in support of breastfeeding campaigns from the first day of life.

Breastfeeding moms have braved challenges and even made career shifts in order to make time for nursing their babies especially for the first year and is recommended to extend up to three years. There are long term health benefits associated with breastfeeding and even if it extends for like three years. While there are criticisms associated with extended breastfeeding, your instinct which is backed by modern science, will tell you that you are in fact doing the right thing for you and your little one. The immune functions are made stronger, brain development is optimized, and decreased infections are noted on extended breastfeeding which showcases more benefits that can counteract the criticisms around it.

Women’s roles have burgeoned over the years yet her beauty never waned a bit. Juggling household chores, running a business, and taking care of a baby is not an easy feat but moms have always managed to work things out– thanks to her innate organization skills.


Women are efficient with multitasking; and this is not a new concept at all. Interestingly, moms have actually been practicing this skill for centuries. Modern moms have revolutionized this concept by adding tweaks in technology that bolstered innovative ways to get things done.

Baby Steps

On the first few weeks, you have to focus on taking care of your baby; specifically with breastfeeding your newborn. You have to start breastfeeding early and regularly (right at birth). Nurse your baby on cue and as often as he or she needs it (approximately 6x to 8x a day). This will help you produce more milk and also avoid breast tenderness and engorgement which tend to be painful and can even cause mastitis.

Ask for help from your husband, family, and friends. You may be a superwoman, but even heroines need some help from time to time. Ask help with cooking meals or for shopping so you can focus on your baby’s needs. Also, take some time off when the baby is asleep. You can read a good book or relax in a tub so you can reenergize and recuperate from stress or fatigue.

When to Start Pumping

You can start pumping breastmilk around 2 weeks before you get back to working in the office again. The best time to express milk is early in the morning right after breakfast. During the first few days, there could be less milk expressed from your breasts but this is normal. Once your body has adjusted to the pumping mechanism, you’ll be able to fill more bottles for feeding.

Preparation for Getting Back to Work

Allow your baby to get adjusted to sucking from a feeding bottle. You can train a caregiver earlier as well so she can be comfortable with taking care of your baby while you’re at work. Train her on how to prepare and feed pumped milk to your baby. Here are some steps to do so:

  • Express or pump milk every day and label the bottles with dates so you’ll know when to discard them. Any milk leftovers for 24 hours must be discarded immediately.
  • Freeze small amounts of milk in bottles.
  • Thaw these in the fridge at night so they’ll be ready for warming and feeding for baby.

Get to know your caregiver and instruct her on what you expect from the working relationship. Tell her to hold your baby everytime during feedings. Write down instructions to make it clear and can be referred back to at anytime. Try posting instructions on the wall of the baby’s room so she won’t forget schedules and daily routine for taking care of the baby.

Get to know your breast pump. Breast pumps come in several basic types – Electric, Single, Double-sided, Battery-operated, and Manual. The best breast pump for working moms are electric breast pumps because it is made of high-quality and durable materials and can be adjusted depending on desired suction strength and cycling speed. Some of the top picks for breast pumps are the following:

  • Medela Pump-In-Style ($199 at Amazon) which has an optional Natural Expression or let-down mode. This also comes with functional and sophisticated carrying case which includes a cooler compartment and ice packs for storing milk.
  • Ameda Purely Yours ($287 at Amazon) – Durability- and performance-wise, this certainly has the same features with that of Medela Pump-In-Style. Suction strength and cycle speed can also be adjusted. Comes with a carrying case or tote.


Take your breast pump at work so you can express milk at least three times a day even in the workplace. Do it in mid-morning, lunch, and mid-afternoon. Around 15 to 20 minutes of pumping would be enough for each breast. There are specialized lactation lounges in large offices or you can pump milk in your own office (just make sure to keep it locked for privacy).

Breastfeed your baby early in the morning before you prepare for work. You can also let the caregiver bring your baby for office visits in the afternoon. Working part-time or shorter hours during weekdays would be convenient for working moms who choose to breastfeed. Talk to your employer about work options now that you advocate breastfeeding while working.

Today, moms have formed an alliance with breast pumps in the effort to nurse their babies even when working. While on maternity leave, consider every small step that you are doing is a prelude to being a working mom who is devoted to breastfeeding with the aid of breast pumps.

In 2014, the Rhode Island General Assembly authorized the Department of Health director to create a framework for the licensing of lactation consultants. In 2015, IBCLC Michael W. Fink of Memorial Hospital was first in the United States to be state-licensed to practice as an IBCLC. This is a breakthrough for IBCLCs all over the United States.

Isn’t My IBCLC Certificate Enough?

While the title IBCLC after your name gives you credibility, you are competing with a range of healthcare professionals and even lay people who may call themselves lactation consultants. Usually, state license guidelines and regulations clearly define who or who many not call him or herself a lactation consultant. This protects mothers from non-IBCLCs who call themselves lactation consultants, and also protects the IBCLC profession from unfair negativity caused by unqualified lactation consultants.

What Will A State License Do For Me?

The certificate you receive after completing the requirements to be an IBCLC only tells people you are qualified to practice what the certificate says you can practice. A license, however, can only be given by a government board. It means that the government has set a framework of rules and regulations for your profession that you need to comply with.

A license tells the people you work with that you are operating with the tacit approval of the government, and that you are accountable to a regulatory body for your practice. This converts the IBCLC profession into a credible part of the health professional network.

State Licenses Restrict the Use of the Term ‘Lactation Consultant’

Any person can research the requirements of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and find out how qualified any IBCLC is. Other healthcare professionals, volunteers, or lay people are not equally qualified. However, they can still use the term “lactation consultant.” State licensure would mean that the term was restricted only to a very specific group of people with certain qualifications. They may even require the IBCLC title.

State Licenses Allow Reimbursement Under Insurance Plans

The Affordable Care Act is a blessing to working mothers everywhere, and to the IBCLCs who help them. However, it does not define what kind of lactation consultant may be reimbursed under the Act. Other insurance providers, both private and those such as Medicaid, will only allow reimbursement of licensed healthcare professionals. This painfully limits the number of mothers who may wish to go to an IBCLC, but are not sure how the reimbursement will work out. A license will increase the number of mothers consulting IBCLCs.

State Licenses Require Accountability

Although regulatory bodies are often a pain, this is actually a good thing. Regulatory bodies make sure that unqualified healthcare providers cannot call themselves “lactation consultants” and hurt both the mothers and the IBCLC profession. IBCLCs will also find it easier to enter and defend their own practices with state licenses. The regulatory body also gives the IBCLCs automatic status among other healthcare professionals.

State Licensing Would Help the IBCLC Profession

The US Lactation Consultant Association is pushing for states to create the necessary regulatory frameworks that would award licenses to IBCLCs. At the moment, only Rhode Island has given out a state license. Other states are in the process of developing the required licenses. If it is at all possible to gain a state license, it would be the best thing as an IBCLC.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

food to eat while breastfeeding

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.


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.

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