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Your Questions

Click here to read the Breastfeeding network leaflet, How safe is….? Alcohol, Smoking, Medicines and Breastfeeding

Do I need to take a vitamin D supplement?

You need to take vitamin D during your pregnancy to provide your baby with enough vitamin D for the first few months of its life. You should take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day when you are pregnant and if you breastfeed.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, these are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.

In children, not having enough vitamin D can cause their bones to soften and can lead to rickets (a disease that affects bone development in children).

Vitamin D can be found naturally in oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and meat. Some manufacturers add it to some breakfast cereals, soya products, some dairy products, powdered milk, and fat spreads such as margarine.

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on your skin. The amount of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D is different for every person, and depends on things such as skin type, the time of day and the time of year. However, you don’t need to sunbathe: the amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning. If you have dark skin or always cover your skin, you may be at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your midwife or doctor if this applies to you.

Good news for Sheffield!

Free Healthy Start vitamins are to be supplied by Sheffield City Council from 1st September 2016. Click here for more details.


Can I produce enough breast milk to feed my baby?

This is a common concern. Often, if a baby loses weight or gains weight too slowly, it is most likely because they are not properly attached to the breast whilst feeding. Most women produce more than enough milk to breastfeed their baby and the more you feed the more milk you make. If baby is not properly attached to the breast, he/she will get some milk but not all the milk available. This is why it is so important to learn how to breastfeed properly as soon as possible. If you think this is happening to you contact an Infant Feeding Peer Support Worker, at your local Children’s Centre, Midwife or Health Visitor. See our pages on How to Get Help and Milk Supply, Expressing & Pumps

Does Breastfeeding hurt?

It is normal to feel tender for the first few days of breastfeeding, but this should go away. If breastfeeding does hurt, it is usually because the baby is not properly attached to the breast. Any pain that lasts after day 4 or 5 should be discussed with a midwife or your Infant Feeding Peer Support Worker. Similarly, seek advice if breastfeeding goes well for some time, but then starts to hurt. See How to Get Help for more information about support.

Will my breastfeeding baby need extra water in hot weather?

No, breast milk contains all the water a baby needs.

Should I wash my nipples before breastfeeding?

No as this will wash the protective oils away from the nipple and make feeding unnecessarily complicated. Bottle-feeding requires extra attention to cleanliness, as bottles can become easily contaminated and formula does not protect a baby from infection, breast milk does.

Will expressing breast milk give me a good idea of how much milk I have?

No, expressing breast milk will only give an idea of how much milk can be expressed. A properly attached baby will be able to get much more milk than a mother can express. Follow this link for more information on expressing milk.

Does my Breast milk contain enough iron?

Yes, formulas include added iron to make sure babies get enough. But this is because iron in formula is poorly absorbed and most gets lost. The iron in breast milk however, is absorbed more easily. This means that babies get enough iron from breast milk alone; to last the first six months with no need for any other foods.

Is it easier to bottle feed than breastfeed?

Breastfeeding may be difficult at first as it is a skill which needs to be learned, e.g. like riding a bike. It does become easier, especially with the right support. Bottle-feeding requires sterilising, measuring, heating and washing, taking much more time and effort than breastfeeding, especially at night. Once women have the hang of it, most find breastfeeding a lot easier.

Will Breastfeeding tie me down?

Breastfeeding allows babies to be fed anywhere, at any time, without the need to carry bottles and formula around. And there is no need to find somewhere to warm the milk or sterilise the bottle. Breastfeeding in public can be daunting but there are many Breastfeeding Friendly venues in Sheffield where you can breastfeed in confidence.

Does Formula contain the same nutrients as breast milk?

No absolutely not.
Although iron, vitamins and other nutrients are added to formulas, they do not contain any antibodies, living cells, enzymes or hormones – they simply cannot compare to breast milk. Formulas are made to suit all babies, but each mum’s breast milk is produced especially to suit their baby’s needs. Formulas do not vary, but breast milk does – the milk produced at the start of a feed is different to that at the end; similarly, the milk produced in the first few days (colostrum) is different to that produced by day 7, or by day 30.

Should I stop breastfeeding if I am feeling ill?

No, by continuing to breastfeed, all your antibodies to fight the infection will be passed onto your baby and offer them some protection.

Should I stop breastfeeding if I am prescribed antibiotics?

Not necessarily as there are plenty of antibiotics that can be taken while you are breastfeeding your baby. Tell your GP that you are breastfeeding.

Should I stop breastfeeding if my baby has sickness or diarrhoea?

Breastfeeding is the best way to settle an upset tummy. Breast milk contains all of the nutrients, enzymes and antibodies your baby needs to fight infection.

Should I stop breastfeeding if I am taking medication?

No, most medicines can be taken safely whilst breastfeeding with no need for concern; only the tiniest amount of medicine will be passed from mother to baby through breastfeeding. However, always tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are breastfeeding and ask for medication that is safe for you to continue breastfeeding.

Should I eat a restricted diet whilst breastfeeding?

You do not need to eat any special foods or avoid any foods whilst breastfeeding. Ideally, you should consume a healthy, balanced diet.

Should I eat and drink more in order to produce enough milk?

No, some women eat and drink more than usual when they are breastfeeding; some women eat and drink the same amount; some women eat and drink even less than usual – it doesn’t matter. Breastfeeding mothers should follow a healthy, balanced diet dictated by their appetite and thirst, as the amount of food and drink consumed will not make a difference to the amount of milk that is produced.

Can I smoke when I breastfeed?

Breastfeeding has great health benefits for you and your baby, such as decreasing the negative effects of cigarette smoke on your baby’s lungs. Clearly it is better for babies if mums do not smoke at all, but if you cannot quit, it is better to smoke and breastfeed than smoke and formula feed. Smoking may affect the amount of milk you make and may give your baby colic. Try to restrict smoking to after a feed so you reduce the amount of nicotine that reaches your breastmilk.

Can I breastfeed if I have had breast augmentation surgery?

There is no evidence to suggest that breastfeeding with silicone implants is harmful to the baby

Can I breastfeed if I have had breast reduction surgery?

Although this operation does reduce your capacity to produce breast milk, there may still be enough milk to breastfeed sufficiently. Lactation aids can help if breastfeeding is difficult. Ask your Midwife or Health Visitor.

Should I breastfeed my Premature baby?

Yes, the protective benefits of breast milk are particularly important for the premature baby. A premature baby should be encouraged to breastfeed as soon as possible. Although he/she may not attach to the breast straight away, it is important for your baby to have lots of opportunity to be held close whilst learning to make sucking movements. You will be encouraged to express your milk so that your baby can be given it as soon as possible. Even very ill babies who are not able to feed are given mouth care using drops of mother’s own milk. This is absorbed by the baby and gives protection from infection. Expressing will also ensure you have a good supply for when the baby is well enough to start breastfeeding.

Can I breastfeed my baby if they have a cleft lip?

Most babies with a cleft lip can breastfeed perfectly well. Starting to breastfeed your baby at birth will encourage them to attach properly, regardless of a cleft lip. Bottle-feeding will only undermine the baby’s ability to breastfeed. Babies with a cleft palate may struggle to breastfeed.

Do women with small breasts produce less milk than women with large breasts?

No, women produce breast milk on a supply and demand basis determined by their baby’s needs. The majority of women have the ability to produce more than enough milk for their child, whatever the size of her breasts.

Can I take the contraceptive pill whilst breastfeeding?

Yes, Mothers can take the progesterone only contraceptive pill whilst breastfeeding and before 6 months post delivery. Taking the pill will not harm your baby whilst breastfeeding. However, pills that contain oestrogen can decrease the production of milk. It is recommended to avoid the combined pill for around 6 months (until the baby is taking other foods alongside breast milk).

Does my baby need other types of milk after six months?

No, breast milk gives a baby everything there is in formula or cow’s milk and more. It is recommended that solids are introduced around six months to encourage babies to learn how to eat, because at around 7-9 months, the iron from breast milk alone will no longer be sufficient. There is no need, however, to introduce other milks. Many babies will reject formula at six months anyway because of the difference in taste.

Can I breastfeed if I have had an X-ray?

You should discuss specific details for each type of scan with a doctor before having any X-rays, just to make sure. However, there is no need to stop breastfeeding for the majority of scans – not even for one feed. In cases where a break is planned from breastfeeding to allow for the X-ray to be taken, enough milk should be expressed beforehand to make sure the baby isn’t disrupted.

Can my breast milk dry up?

Sometimes it may seem that the flow of milk is decreasing, but it is most likely that the baby has changed, not the milk. For example, babies who would usually fall asleep at the breast when the flow of milk slowed may start pulling and crying instead at around 6 weeks of age. This is not because the milk has dried up, but because the baby has changed. Compressing the breast by hand may help the baby to get more milk. However, if you reduce the amount of feeds within a 24 hour period, your milk supply will start to decrease. Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis; therefore, replacing a breastfeed with a bottle of formula milk can reduce your supply. Talk to your Midwife, Health Visitor or Breastfeeding Peer Support Worker if you are concerned about your milk supply.

Can a baby be fed both breast milk and formula milk?

Breast milk alone gives a baby all of the nutrients it needs but some mums choose to give some breast feeds and some bottle feeds so that family members can help with feeds. It is worth bearing in mind the following:
There is evidence to show that babies benefit from having a consistent carer to feed them.
Formula milk reduces the protection to the baby’s tummy and a baby having formula feeds is more likely to develop a tummy infection.
If family members want to help with feeds it is much better to express breast milk in advance which can be given to the baby in a bottle.
Some Mothers do manage to successfully give some breast feeds and some formula feeds with no adverse effects on the breast milk supply.

Is there such a thing as nipple confusion?

Many babies have a preference even between left and right breast. Although this is not confusion, it shows that babies are aware of the differences between nipples and often prefer to be positioned on a certain side. The addition of artificial nipples (teats) can be very confusing, as babies suck differently from a teat and is why some babies refuse bottles. Similarly, breastfeeding may become a lot more difficult after bottle-feeding has been introduced. It is recommended that dummies are not introduced until breastfeeding is established (at least 4 weeks).

Can I breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples?

Although a prominent nipple may make it easier for babies to latch on, it is not a necessity. Babies take breast tissue into the mouth, not just the nipple, so whatever the size or shape, any woman should be able to breastfeed adequately.

Can I continue breastfeeding if I become pregnant?

There is no medical reason to say you cannot breastfeed whilst pregnant. If both Mother and baby choose, breastfeeding can continue. Some women choose to breastfeed the older child and their newborn baby, this is known as tandem feeding.

Is it possible for me to breastfeed twins?

Yes, it is possible. There are different ways of approaching this so speak to your midwife or Infant Feeding Peer Support Worker.

Will I produce enough milk if my breasts do not grow during pregnancy?

The majority of women whose breasts do not grow, or grow very little during pregnancy produce more than enough milk. There are very few women who cannot produce enough breast milk.

Should I breastfeed my baby for longer than 12 months?

Breastfeeding can continue for as long as you choose. Some people think breastfeeding until this age makes a child over dependent, but studies have shown that actually, children that are breastfed for longer can often be more secure and independent in later life.

If I take a break from breastfeeding, will my milk turn sour?

Milk in the breast is not like formula or milk in a bottle – it is as fresh as ever, whenever it is used.

Can I breastfeed after exercise?


Can I get a perm or dye my hair whilst breastfeeding?


Will breastfeeding make my breasts saggy?

Any difference in the shape or size of breasts is caused by pregnancy itself, not by breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding can help women get back to their pre-pregnancy shape quicker. It is important to wear a well fitting feeding bra.

Can my milk be too thin?

The appearance of breast milk can vary between individuals dependant on length of feed, time of day and the needs of your baby. As long as you are giving your baby a full feed and positioning and attachment is correct, your baby will get the nourishment it needs.

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