Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

After Baby Arrives

  • What is breast engorgement, and what causes it? Breast engorgement means your breasts are painfully overfull of milk. This usually occurs when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen, which can make it hard for your baby to breastfeed. Engorged breasts can be treated at...

  • Looks at problems you may have in the days and weeks after the delivery of your baby (postpartum period). Covers emergency symptoms like signs of shock, fainting, or severe belly pain. Includes interactive tool to help you decide when to call a doctor.

  • There are things you can do to protect your health and the health of your baby. If you're pregnant Pregnancy causes changes in the body that may raise the risk for some infections. Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from respiratory infections, like the flu. So it's important to try to avoid...

  • Learn five ways to prepare for breastfeeding.

  • Learn how to get your baby to latch on and what to do if you're having pain or problems.

  • Learn how often your baby needs breast milk or formula.

  • Nipple shields are devices to help with certain breastfeeding problems. A nipple shield looks like a little hat with a brim. The crown of the hat fits over the nipple, and the brim lies over the areola. Most nipple shields are made of a soft, thin,...

  • Using a breast pump is a good way to provide the benefits of breastfeeding when you have to be away from your baby. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply and prevent discomfort and breast engorgement. You can also use a breast pump to slowly...

  • You may choose to wait until your child is a toddler (ages 1 to 2 years) or older to wean him or her from the breast. You may feel that your toddler isn't ready for weaning until later or that you both aren't ready. You may want to initiate it or just let your child stop breastfeeding on his or her own (self-wean)...

  • Sometimes a mother wants to stop breastfeeding, but her baby shows signs of wanting to continue. If possible, continue breastfeeding a while longer. If this is not possible, the following suggestions may help you: Offer breast milk pumped from your...

  • Most medical professionals recommend letting a baby eat on demand. But during the first few days of breastfeeding, be sure to awaken your baby for feedings about every 2 hours. This will help to get your milk supply going. To make the transition...

  • Most infants lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first week. A baby's weight decreases from the normal loss of fluid, urine, and stool. Babies also get few calories from early breastfeeding patterns. Their bodies have special fat stores for...

  • Pain during breastfeeding is a sign of a problem and should not be ignored. Although sore or tender nipples are common during the first few days of breastfeeding, it should improve. Normal soreness or pain usually occurs for about a minute when the baby first latches on to the breast. Pain that is severe or continuous...

  • You sometimes may notice that your milk does not flow easily, or let down, when you attempt to breastfeed or use a breast pump. Emotional stress, fatigue, anxiety, smoking, pain, or being cold are common causes of poor let-down. With poor let-down, you may not experience the tingling and leaking of milk that usually...

  • Talk to your doctor before you take any prescription or nonprescription medicine while breastfeeding. That's because some medicines can affect your breast milk. But many medicines are safe to use when you breastfeed. These include certain pain...

  • Women who have had breast implants or surgery to remove cysts or benign (noncancerous) lumps usually are able to breastfeed. Women who have had surgery to make their breasts smaller (breast reduction) may have trouble breastfeeding if the milk ducts...

  • If you are breastfeeding, many substances that you eat, drink, inhale, or inject end up in your breast milk and may harm your baby. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce your milk production and inhibit the let-down reflex. It also may...

  • Some aspects of breastfeeding may come naturally. But learning some breastfeeding skills and techniques can help you be more successful. Before your baby is born, take classes, read books, and watch videos that demonstrate breastfeeding techniques....

  • Breastfeeding in the proper position will help your baby latch on and breastfeed correctly and make your experience more enjoyable. Also, when you are in a comfortable and relaxed position, let-down occurs more easily. You are more likely to drain...

  • Most mothers can produce enough milk to breastfeed two or more babies. If you have twins or triplets, breastfeeding becomes more physically and emotionally challenging. But with support and guidance, you can be successful. Breastfeeding fosters the...

  • A cesarean delivery may delay the start of breastfeeding. You may be sleepy from medicine or in pain from the surgery. Try breastfeeding your baby as soon as you are able. Ask whether your baby can be brought into the recovery room to be held and...

  • You usually can continue breastfeeding your child if you become pregnant. If you breastfeed while you are pregnant, be aware of the following issues: Breastfeeding during pregnancy is not recommended if you are at risk for preterm labor....

  • You can continue to breastfeed after you return to work. But it is important to think ahead about practical issues, such as where to store your pumped milk. Some issues to consider include: Employer support. Before your child is born, talk to your employer about your breastfeeding plans. Point out the...

  • If you are breastfeeding, your doctor may suggest that you eat more calories each day than otherwise recommended for a person of your height and weight. Be sure to ask your doctor about how much and what to eat if you: Are very active. Begin to lose weight rapidly. Are breastfeeding more than one...

  • Rest and sleep are important to breastfeeding women for keeping up their energy and their milk production. Avoid or limit caffeine, especially in the hours before bedtime. Caffeine can keep you awake. Use the evening hours for settling down. Avoid...

  • Keep the following in mind as you start an exercise program or try to lose weight while you are breastfeeding. Exercise Being active helps promote weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress. Follow these tips when you start an exercise program while you are breastfeeding...

  • Breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control, called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). But three conditions must be met to ensure its effectiveness: Your baby must be 6 months of age or younger. After your baby is 6 months old, you are much more likely to become pregnant and need to use another...

  • Childbirth and breastfeeding may affect your sexual desire. Exhaustion, breast soreness, your baby's demands, and recovery from childbirth may reduce your interest in intimacy with your partner. But you may feel more comfortable having sex after the...

  • It is important to have breastfeeding support from your doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who care for you and your baby. Fortunately, most people involved in health care are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Before having your baby,...

  • The exact cause of colic is not known. But some breastfeeding mothers have noticed that certain foods seem to cause colic in their babies. It is possible that some foods may affect breast milk and contribute to intestinal gas or other digestive...

  • What is breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is feeding a baby milk from the mother's breasts. You can feed your baby right at your breast. You can also pump your breasts and put the milk in a bottle to feed your baby. Doctors advise breastfeeding for 1 year or longer. But your baby benefits from any amount of breastfeeding...

  • Feed your baby whenever he or she seems hungry (on-demand). During the first few days or weeks, breastfeedings tend to occur every 1 to 3 hours around the clock. And formula-feedings tend to occur every 3 to 4 hours around the clock. You may have to wake your sleepy newborn to feed in the first few days after birth...

  • If you plan to breastfeed and use a breast pump at times, research your equipment options while you are pregnant. When evaluating the different types of breast pumps, think about how often you will need to use the pump. Think about: How often you will need other caregivers to feed your baby. Whether you will return...

  • A number of things influence how much milk you produce (your milk supply). The two most important things are how often you breastfeed and how well your breast is emptied. The hormone that regulates milk production ( prolactin) is stimulated by breastfeeding. So the more frequently you feed your baby and empty your...

  • You can be reassured that your baby is eating enough and is well nourished when he or she: Shows an eager desire and wakes up frequently to breastfeed. Rhythmically sucks and swallows milk. The fronts of your baby's ears will move slightly, and you...

  • Inverted nipples fold inward instead of pointing out. Most women with inverted nipples will still be able to breastfeed. If the baby is having a hard time latching on to the breast, ask your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant for help. To find...

  • Infant formulas take two times longer for a baby to digest than breast milk. The slower digestion of infant formula can affect: Feeding frequency. Babies who take infant formula usually want to feed less often than babies who are breastfeeding....

  • You may choose to breastfeed and give infant formula for some of your baby's feedings. Supplementing breast milk with formula may decrease your supply of breast milk. But it will not stop your breast milk production. It is best to wait until your...

  • If your premature infant was born before the gestational age of 32 to 34 weeks, he or she cannot feed by mouth. This is because of: Poor coordination (or lack) of sucking, swallowing, and gag reflex. Weakness of both the oral and stomach muscles. Small stomach capacity. Until your infant becomes stronger and more...

  • Mastitis usually happens in nursing mothers when bacteria enter the breast through a cracked or sore nipple. This can cause an infection. Mastitis usually starts as a painful area in one breast. It may be red or warm to the touch, or both. Fever, chills, and body aches usually occur too. Good breastfeeding...

  • From birth, infants follow their internal hunger and fullness cues. They eat when they're hungry and stop eating when they're full. Experts agree that newborns should be fed on demand. This means that you breast- or bottle-feed your infant whenever he or she shows signs of hunger, rather than setting a strict schedule...

  • The foundation for breastfeeding is established in the first few weeks after delivery. Planning ahead for breastfeeding can help you build a good breastfeeding routine. Minor problems may occur during breastfeeding. But with proper planning,...

  • The antioxidant and other protective properties of breast milk are most important and beneficial to your baby when breast milk is fresh. The protective components of breast milk decrease with refrigeration and freezing. But stored breast milk is the next best thing to fresh breast milk as a complete and nutritious food...

  • Breastfeeding more than one child is called tandem breastfeeding. If you continue to feed your older child along with your newborn, keep in mind that the newborn's feeding is the higher priority. Some general feeding guidelines can help ensure that your newborn is properly nourished: Feed the newborn about 8 to 12...

  • If your baby has signs of a minor illness (such as cold symptoms or mild diarrhea), it is best to continue your breastfeeding routine. Breast milk provides your baby with the best possible nutrition. If your baby is too ill to breastfeed, try cup-feeding. With this technique, you feed your baby collected breast milk...

  • Guides through decision to breastfeed. Discusses common concerns and issues related to breastfeeding. Links to personal stories. Covers benefits and risks. Includes an interactive tool to help you make your decision.

Load More