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The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems, breastfeeding problems, or to take the place of professional medical care. If you have persistent breastfeeding problems, or if you have further questions, please consult your health care provider. The DC Breastfeeding Coalition does not share partnership with, or have any vested interest in, any of the businesses that may appear on this site, or sites that may be assessable by links herein contained.

Information for Parents

When to call or go to your baby’s doctor or nurse practitioner

Here are some of the reasons you should get medical help for your baby. Check with your baby’s doctor or nurse practitioner for any other reasons they would like to see your baby. It is a good idea to go to your baby’s doctor 2 or 3 days after you leave the hospital.

You need to call immediately and/or go to your baby’s doctor, nurse practitioner or the Emergency Room if your baby 3 months of age or younger:

  1. Has a temperature of 100.4°F or 38°C rectally (taken in your baby’s bottom) or higher. Note, this is not 104°F, but 100.4°F.
  2. Is very fussy and hard to calm down.
  3. Does not want to eat.
  4. Is very sleepy and hard to wake up.
  5. Is acting or looking sick.

Call your baby’s doctor or nurse practitioner if your baby:

  1. Has yellow skin (jaundiced) or the white parts of your baby’s eyes are yellow.
  2. Is not having wet diapers (urinating) at least 3 times in 24 hours when your baby is 3 days old.
  3. Is not having wet diapers (urinating) at least 6 times in 24 hours after your milk "comes in" around 4 or 5 days of life.
  4. Does not have yellow bowel movements by 4 or 5 days.
  5. Is having less than 4 yellow bowel movements in 24 hours after your baby is 4 or 5 days old. When your baby is around 1 month of age, your baby may only have a bowel movement once every 4 or 5 days. As long as the bowel movement is soft, this is not constipation.
  6. Has blood in their bowel movement.

If you have any question about your baby, it is a good idea to call or go to your baby’s doctor or nurse practitioner.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for babies and their mothers. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It has the right amount of fat, protein, sugar, and water your baby needs to grow and develop. It is always available in the right quantity and temperature, no expensive or special preparation is necessary and breastfeeding helps mothers and babies bond.

Your baby’s immune system will get the most benefit from your breast milk if you breastfeed only without formula for the first 6 months, then continue to breastfeed after adding age-appropriate baby foods until at least the baby’s first birthday. You can keep breastfeeding for as long as both you and your baby choose.

It is better to breastfeed for a short time than not to breastfeed at all. The substances that help fight infection are only found in breast milk, not formula. A lack of breastfeeding increases your baby’s risk of illness and disease.

According to many research studies:

  • Less diarrhea and constipation.
  • Fewer colds.
  • Fewer ear infections.
  • Fewer bladder infections.
  • Fewer severe infections.
  • Lower risk of getting meningitis (brain infection).
  • Lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Premature babies have all of the above benefits plus…

  • Better eyesight.
  • Less chance of preemie bowel disease (also known as NEC).

Breastfed babies are healthier children!


  • Fewer allergies.
  • Less asthma.
  • Less eczema.
  • Better teeth and smiles.

Breastfed babies are healthier adults!


  • Lower risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Lower risk of inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Lower risk of developing diabetes and are less likely to be obese.
  • Higher IQs according to some studies.


Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers

Breastfeeding is also important for mother’s health. Nursing mothers enjoy a very special relationship with their baby. Mothers feel good about providing breast milk for their baby, something only they can give.

According to many research studies:


Have healthier bodies-

  • In the first week, breastfeeding helps the womb return to its normal size and protects a woman from losing too much blood after delivery.
  • In the first three months, breastfeeding helps a woman rebuild her iron supply and prevents anemia.
  • After she stops breastfeeding, a mother who breastfed her baby has stronger bones (less Osteoporosis) and less chance of breaking her hip.
  • Lower risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer

Have healthier minds-

  • Less postpartum depression.
  • Less anxiety and stress.
  • More stable moods.
  • A closer bond with their babies.

Save money-

  • Breastfeeding saves approximately $1,500-$2,000 a year.
  • Women who breastfeed miss fewer days of work because their babies are healthier.

Have more time-

  • Breastmilk is always ready. There’s no measuring, mixing, or warming.

Get their bodies back in shape sooner-

  • Breastfeeding helps a nursing mother return to her pre-pregnancy weight, especially noticed in her belly and thighs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding

  1. Does My Baby Need to Be on a Schedule? Healthy full-term breastfed babies breastfeed as often as every hour or as infrequently as every four hours. Daily patterns will vary from baby to baby and from day to day. LLL THE WOMENLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING
  2. Can human milk be heated in the microwave? Do not heat milk in the microwave, this causes it to heat unevenly, creating “hot spots” that may burn the baby’s mouth. LLL THE WOMENLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING
  3. Does breastfeeding hurt? Breastfeeding should not hurt. There may be some discomfort at first, but the more you nurse the easier it becomes. If your baby is latched on and positioned properly, you should not feel pain. AABA
  4. Is breastmilk really good for my baby? Yes! Years of research has found that breastmilk is the most nutritious food to feed infants and protect them from illness. Breastfed infants have lower rates of infections, and other medical problems than bottled fed babies. AABA
  5. When should I start breastfeeding? You should nurse your baby soon after birth, if possible when your baby is awake and the sucking instinct is strong. AABA
  6. How long do I need to breastfed? It is recommended that babies be fed only breastmilk for the first six months. Breastfeeding should continue in addition to appropriate complimentary foods through the first year.  Thereafter mother may keep breastfeeding as long as both mother and baby mutually wish to continue.  AABA and AAP
  7. Can I breastfeed if I smoke or use street drugs?  Smoking cigarettes or other drugs is unhealthy.  However, if you cannot stop cigarette smoking, you can still breastfeed - but, do not smoke in the same room with the baby and definitely do not smoke while the baby is at the breast. It is recommended that breastfeeding moms not use street drugs because they are harmful to the mother and her baby. AABA
  8. What do I do when I need to breastfeed outside my home? You can breastfeed in public, by wearing clothes that allow easy access to your breast, by placing a receiving blanket over your baby and your breast. You can also purchase a nursing cover or sling for added privacy. AABA
  9. What foods do I need to eat? You can enjoy the foods that you normally eat. It is rare, but if you notice that your baby gets fussy or gassy after you have eaten a certain food, your baby may be sensitive to that food. It is wise that you eat a healthy, well balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables. LLL The Breastfeeding Answer Book
  10. Can I take medication if I am breastfeeding? Most prescriptions and over –the- counter medications are compatible with breastfeeding. The amount of a drug found in mother’s milk is usually no more than 1 to 2% of the maternal dosage taken. You should always check with your health care provider before taking any medications. LLL The Breastfeeding Answer Book
  11. How do I know my baby is getting enough milk? If your baby has 6 or more wet diapers daily, and at least 2 bowel movements, and gains ½ to 1 ounce a day, you can feel comfortable that your baby is getting enough milk. AABA