You’ve probably already heard the saying, “breast is best.”
But new moms often have tons of questions that come up about what’s safe for your baby during the breastfeeding process—and that’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay is relying on hearsay and false information to answer those questions.
With that in mind, here are 5 questions and answers about breastfeeding to help clear up any confusion.
1) Is it okay to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?
As the breastfeeding advocacy group La Leche League International (LLLI) explains, small amounts of alcoholic consumption on the mother’s part—one drink or less per day—has not been shown to be harmful for breastfeeding infants.
Alcohol does in fact pass into a mother’s breast milk, with peak alcoholic content ranging from 30 to 60 minutes after drinking without eating or 60 to 90 minutes after drinking with food.
Additionally, this time depends on a few different factors: your baby’s age, your weight, the amount of alcohol consumed, and how long you wait before breastfeeding.
LLLI recommends you plan ahead if you want to drink but are still breastfeeding. That may mean pumping milk ahead of time.
Similar consideration goes for caffeine consumption. Babies cannot effectively metabolize caffeine, says a February 2012 study in the Journal of Caffeine Research.
So you might also want to pump ahead of time if you’re craving a caffeine fix.
2) Is it okay to breastfeed in public?
According to the United States Office on Women’s Health, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”
Some women may squirm at the idea. But there is nothing to be ashamed of about breastfeeding in public. In fact, you may even have your right to do so protected by law, says the National Conference of State Legislatures.
46 states have laws on the books that specifically allow women to breastfeed in public.
The Office on Women’s Health recommends you take these tips into consideration if you’re nervous about breastfeeding in public:
- Wear breastfeeding-friendly clothes, like button-down shirts
- Use a breastfeeding blanket
- Practice breastfeeding at home ahead of time
- Face the wall or sit in a booth at a restaurant
- Feed your baby before she starts to get fussy
3) Is it okay to pump instead of breastfeed?
Pumping your breast milk is a great option, especially if you have to go back to work while you’re still breastfeeding.
Advantages of pumping your breast milk include:
- Always having milk available when your baby needs it
- Anyone can feed your baby once the milk has been pumped
Source: American Pregnancy Association
And the Affordable Care Act makes getting a breast pump even easier. Under the new healthcare law, health insurance plans have to cover the cost of the pump, says the Office on Women’s Health.
4) Is it okay to donate my breast milk?
Human milk is the best option for infants, explains the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Breast milk provides babies with the best combination of nutrients for promoting their growth and development. It also decreases their risk for certain illnesses.
Some women choose to donate their breast milk. Donated human milk that has been pasteurized has been proven to reduce the length of hospital stays for premature infants, says the HMBANA.
If you want to donate your milk, reach out to your hospital to see if they know of any local milk banks.
5) Is it okay to take donated breast milk?
The HMBANA recommends you only take donated milk from a reputable source that follows proven safety guidelines.
Contact your doctor’s office or hospital to find out where the nearest bank is.