Some of the questions you might have about feeding your baby might seem embarrassing or silly, but they're not. You're not on your own thinking about these things.
So here we try to answer all those tricky questions- because it's ok to ask them:
1) What if I have negative thoughts whilst breastfeeding? Negative feelings around breastfeeding your baby or toddler are not uncommon and they don't say anything bad about you as a person. It might feel strange when you first start breastfeeding. The physical feeling of it can feel weird for lots of people especially if you've not done it before. There is also sometimes a hormonal reason for negative feelings when feeding. Most people do get use to breastfeeding. If you are worried about these feelings you can discuss them with your health visitor/support worker.
2) Will it feel sexual? You might have only ever thought about your breasts in a sexual way before, so it's natural to take time to get your head around using your breasts to feed your baby. The reality for most people is that breastfeeding is not arousing because the situation is different and how you feel about your body will often change during pregnancy too. You will return to feeling sexual at other times.
3) Will breastfeeding change how my breasts look? Whilst you're breastfeeding, your breasts will sometimes be bigger when full of milk. Bodies are designed to change overtime- including our breasts. Our bodies change during and after pregnancy and they change as we get older. It's normal for breasts to get bigger, smaller or to lose some of their shape whether you breastfeed or not.
4) Will it be awkward breastfeeding in front of my partner, family or friends? You might feel awkward, especially at first, but there are things you could do to make it more comfortable for you. You can think about what clothes you feel comfortable breastfeeding in, or tell you partner, family or friends how they can support you. For instance, letting them know that breastfeeding is important to you. Or you might want to go and feed in a more private place if that feels right for you. What works for you might change over time and depend on the situation.
5) Am I a bad parent if I don't want to breastfeed? No. We are all different and there are many different reasons for how we choose to feed our babies. Healthy parenting is about more than just the feeding choices you make. Try to focus on having a warm and loving relationship with your baby as much as possible. Remember your wellbeing needs too; thinking of your wellbeing will help you provide a healthier start for your baby. There are so many different ingredients that go into your baby turning into a healthy child and feeding is only one aspect of this. It is important you are kind to yourself around this and try to also think about building your bond with your baby in other ways too.
6) Will breastfeeding affect how much I can leave my baby? Babies require a lot of feeding in those early weeks and months however you feed them, so it's likely that your social life will be different during this time. However, there are workarounds for those mums who need or want to leave their baby for short amounts of time. If you are breastfeeding, you can speak to your health visitor or support worker about expressing and giving breast milk. It is important to have breaks from your baby if you feel you want to. Because each baby is unique, they have their own behaviours as well as feeding needs; some babies are happy to be left with other people, and other babies like to have more of mums attention. Think about what works for you and your family. If you have a baby that feeds often or doesn't like being held by others, try to remember that this phase won't last forever and you will be able to do more by yourself as your baby gets older. If you want to spend time with friends and take your baby with you, it can take time to work out how to be a parent around your friends.
7) Can I drink alcohol and breastfeed? An occasional drink (i.e. 1 or 2 units, once or twice a week) is unlikely to harm your baby. When it comes to alcohol it is important that you don't put your baby at risk: never share a bed or sofa with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol. Doing this has a strong association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you have had lots of alcohol (binge drinking) you should ask someone else to care for your baby as alcohol affects your ability to care safely for your baby, no matter how you are feeding.
More information can be found on these websites:
- Breastfeeding and drinking alcohol - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Alcohol and Breastfeeding - The Breastfeeding Network
8) Can I smoke and breastfeed? Making your home completely smoke-free will help protect your baby's health. You can breastfeed as a smoker. However, if you or your partner are finding it hard to quit smoking, you don't need to stop breastfeeding and can seek advice from your GP or Derbyshire’s Live Life Better service. Ask friends and family not to smoke near your baby, too. Trying to avoid smoking before feeding your baby is recommended, as this will limit the amount of nicotine passed into your breastmilk. If you or your partner smokes, it's important not to share a bed with your baby (co-sleep). This is known to raise the risk of SIDS, particularly if you smoke, you recently drank alcohol, or you're taking medicine that makes you sleep more heavily.
9) Can breastfeeding stop me getting pregnant? It is still possible to get pregnant when breastfeeding particularly if you are mixed feeding, there are long intervals between feeds, and your baby is over 6 months old and having solids as well. According to the Family Planning Association, breastfeeding can be around 98% successful in preventing pregnancy if:
- you are fully breastfeeding – this means you are not giving your baby any other liquid or solid food and
- your baby is less than six months old and
- you have no periods.
If you are clear that you don’t wish to become pregnant again whilst breastfeeding it is best to speak with your GP or sexual health service about contraception options as soon as possible after birth. You can also visit the Breastfeeding Network to find out more.
10) Is it possible to overfeed my bottle fed baby? It is important to pay attention to your baby’s cues that they are full a little more closely when you use a bottle. It is important not to force them to finish a whole feed if they are showing that they have had enough. This too will help them recognise when they are full when they start eating solid food.
Find out more about breastfeeding and formula feeding: Infant feeding
We don't want you to feel embarrassed about asking any questions you might have about feeding your baby.
If you have any questions you'd like to ask, you can:
Text Chat Health on 07507 327769. This is a confidential text messaging service for parents/ carers of 0 - 5 year olds, providing advice and support from one of our healthcare professionals from Monday to Friday, 9am – 4.30pm, except bank holidays.
Or message our live web chat to talk with our healthy family peer support workers, which is available on this website on the 0-5 years page, Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 12 noon.