Common Questions & Answers

Yes. If you are having sex, it is possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding.

Here are the facts:
  • No birth control method is foolproof, except abstinence
  • There are birth control options for breastfeeding moms that will not reduce your milk supply

– Talk to your doctor about what method is right for you

You can take certain medications while breastfeeding, but not all. Some medications can pass through your breast milk which may harm your baby.

Talk to your doctor or WIC staff before you start taking medications including:

  • Prescription
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Vitamins
  • Dietary or herbal supplements

Nursing mothers may receive most vaccines. Breastfeeding does not affect the vaccine, and most vaccines will not harm your baby because they do not enter your milk.

However, vaccines for smallpox and yellow fever can be passed through human milk. Avoid these vaccinations if possible while breastfeeding and talk to your healthcare provider.

Most common illnesses, like colds, seasonal flu, or diarrhea, can’t be passed through human milk. In fact, your milk has antibodies in it that will help protect your baby from getting the same sickness.

It’s important to take steps to keep your baby from getting sick. Wash your hands with soap and water before touching your baby or any item your baby will touch.

If you don’t feel well enough to breastfeed your baby, have someone who is not sick give your baby expressed human milk.

Your WIC food package depends on how much you are breastfeeding.

  • Moms who breastfeed their baby and do not get infant formula from WIC receive a larger variety of foods.
  • This package has milk, juice, cereal, eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread and other whole grains, canned fish, legumes, peanut butter, and cheese.
  • When babies are 6-12 months old, breastfeeding moms also get baby food meats in addition to greater amounts of baby food fruits and vegetables.
  • Mothers who fully or partially (mostly) breastfeed their infants are eligible to participate in WIC for up to one year after giving birth.

Pacifiers can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so it is ok to use one. If you want to try it, it is best to wait until your baby is comfortable breastfeeding. This allows your baby time to learn how to latch well on the breast and get enough milk.

Talk to WIC or your baby’s healthcare provider if you are concerned your baby is not getting enough milk or to see if there is a medical need to supplement with formula.

Giving your baby formula may cause them to not want as much human milk. This will decrease your milk supply.

Your baby does not need water in the first 6 months of life.

  • Water can be introduced once solid foods are introduced (around 6 months of age)
  • Offer a small amount of drinking water from a cup at mealtimes

– Just a few sips is plenty

  • Drinking water at this age is more about practicing using a cup than for nutritional needs

Talk to WIC about when to feed your baby solid foods and which foods are best. Giving your baby infant cereal may make them not want as much human milk. This will decrease your milk supply.

Human milk alone does not provide infants with enough vitamin D. Sunlight on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D but exposing your baby’s skin to the sun can be harmful. Ask your baby’s healthcare provider about supplements in drop form.

Babies are born with a supply of iron they get from their mother during pregnancy. When babies are about 4 to 6 months old, they may need an additional source of iron. When your baby is ready for solid foods, usually around 6 months of age, the food or infant cereal should be rich in iron. Talk with WIC or your baby’s healthcare provider about how much iron your baby needs.

If you smoke, it’s best to quit as soon as possible:

  • Smoke is not good for babies whether you breastfeed or give formula
  • Smoking can decrease milk supply
  • Smoke increases the risk of asthma, infections, and SIDS
 

There is little known about the effects of e-cigarette use by the mother on infant health.

If you can’t quit, it is still better to breastfeed because it can help protect your baby from lung problems and SIDS.

If you choose to smoke, help protect your baby:

  • Do not smoke anywhere inside a house or vehicle. Always smoke outside
  • Smoke right after you breastfeed, not before
  • Change clothes and wash hands after smoking and before touching your baby
 

Think About Quitting

Breastfeeding may help motivate you to quit. You might find it easier than you think! Ask your health
provider about nicotine replacement aids. You can continue to breastfeed and take them.

Call the Quit line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW for more information.

It is best to avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding. However, drinking up to 1 standard drink per day is not known to be harmful to your baby.

  • Not drinking alcohol is the safest option
  • Alcohol can enter your breast milk
  • Alcohol can cause you to make less milk
 

If you choose to have an alcoholic drink, help protect your baby:

  • Pump milk before you drink to feed your baby later
  • Try to time it so you can nurse your baby right before you have a drink
  • Wait 4 hours after a drink before nursing your baby again
  • Milk pumped right after drinking should be discarded

 

1 alcoholic drink = 12 oz beer OR 4 oz glass of wine OR 1 oz hard liquor

It is important to stay drug-free while breastfeeding:

  • Misuse of prescription drugs and/or using marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, or meth while breastfeeding can harm your baby. Some reported side effects in babies include:

– Seizures
– Tremors
– Vomiting
– Poor feeding

  • Anything that gets you high can pass into your breast milk and harm your baby
  • No amount of marijuana or illegal drug is safe to use when breastfeeding

 

Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you can breastfeed if you are taking medication to treat an opioid use disorder.