The Association of Breast-feeding Mothers is a registered charity which is dedicated to helping those mothers who are planning to or who are already breast-feeding. Help in answering questions and even counseling is available. Contact details are given at the end of this section.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions (and their answers).
What are the implications for me and/or my unborn baby in continuing to feed my toddler while I am pregnant?
None. It is not uncommon for women to conceive whilst breast-feeding. It often takes time for them to realise they are pregnant, not least because the periods may not have resumed. This should help to reinforce the point that breastfeeding in exclusivity is not a very reliable form of contraception.
However, if and when you find yourself in such circumstances, there are really no grounds for alarm as far as anybody's well-being is concerned. Your breast-fed baby, the unborn baby and you will not be adversely affected by this in any way. Of course, you will have to start thinking about weaning your baby off the breast, but this does not have to be done abruptly.
Can I smoke and drink or take any drugs while breast-feeding?
The wisest counsel is not to smoke if you are breast-feeding. Nicotine and a number of other harmful chemicals in cigarettes do get into breast-milk. There is also the fact that parents' cigarette smoking has been associated with increased risk of cot death.
However, if it is not possible to quit smoking altogether, the next best option is to avoid smoking just before feeding. This is the time when the concentration of the harmful chemicals is highest. Also avoid smoking within the vicinity of the baby. This applies to non-breastfeeding mothers as well.
As far as alcohol is concerned, this too passes into breast milk. It is therefore important to restrict the intake of this if you are breast-feeding. It is advised not to exceed fourteen units of alcohol per week.
It is also important to remember that excessive alcohol intake can have a consequence of reducing milk production.
Some drugs, both prescription and non-prescription can have the potential of harming the baby. Whatever drug you are going to take, it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist whether it is safe for breast-feeding.
When l have thrush, do both my baby and myself have to be treated?
Absolutely. If the baby has been noted to have oral thrush, which is not uncommon, your nipples can be infected from this. The reverse is also true. It is therefore important that treatment for thrush is given to both mother and baby.
Do I have to eat a special diet or avoid certain foods?
The beauty of breast-feeding is that it does not place any undue dietary burden on the mother. All you need is a sensible balanced diet. Moreover, those foods that are restricted during pregnancy - such as eggs, soft cheese and liver - can be eaten without any worry of harming the baby. It is true that a breast-feeding mother may feel hungrier than she usually does but this is hardly ever a problem. A breastfeeding mother tends to lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy more easily and usually more quickly..
Will I produce enough milk for my growing baby?
It is unusual - though not unknown - for a lactating mother to produce inadequate quantities of milk. The overwhelming majority of breast-feeding mothers experience no such problem. With a varied healthy diet and adequate fluid intake, there is usually no such worry.