Breastfeeding Q&A

Tot Lactation expert, Rebecca Agi, answers questions about breastfeeding from our Instagram followers



  1. What’s your advice for babies who are teething and love to clamp down (luckily without teeth yet!)? Lots of moms worry about clamping and/or biting and breastfeeding. I recommend offering your baby a cold, wet washcloth or a cold teething toy prior to breastfeeding to help soothe the baby’s gums. We’ve got a great range of non-toxic and baby-safe teethers on The Tot!
  1. Is there a good diet to follow when breastfeeding? Fortunately you don’t need to follow a special diet to produce good milk. However, now is a wonderful time to focus on making healthy choices so that you and your tot can reap the benefits. Here’s an article I wrote on What to eat while breastfeeding, which you might enjoy.
  1. I have a 14 month old who still breastfeeds 3-4 times per day. We want to have another baby at some point and I want to know if I should give up breastfeeding in order to get pregnant. Good news: you don’t need to give up breastfeeding to get pregnant! You and your toddler can continue for as long as is mutually desired. Studies show that breastfeeding is compatible with healthy pregnancies, though many babies notice a difference in the taste of mother’s milk, which can cause them to wean.
  1. What can I do to assist slow let-down other than compressions? I recommend using some relaxation techniques to help get you as calm and relaxed as possible for breastfeeding. Do some deep breathing, put on some relaxing music and try nursing in a quiet room. Applying warm compresses to the breast can also help get the milk flowing. If those tips don’t help, you can always hand express or pump until let-down.
  1. What kind of foods should I stay away from while breastfeeding? There aren’t many foods you need to avoid entirely while breastfeeding. Alcohol and caffeine can be enjoyed in moderation and don’t need to be avoided entirely. However, new research shows that Kombucha (a fermented tea drink) is not compatible with breastfeeding since it’s a detoxifying agent that excretes hazardous waste into bodily fluids — including a mother’s milk. As long as you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to stay away from Kombucha.
  1. I am having twins this week and I will exclusively breastfeed as I did with my daughter. I am not worried about my milk, I am concerned on how to tandem feed. Do I try to start off right away or do I gradually transition and just feed them individually in the beginning. I am worried that if I do not tandem feed that I will be feeding literally all day. Any tips on breastfeeding twins!?!?! Congratulations and props to you for choosing to breastfeed your twins! Tandem nursing can save you lots of time, especially in the early weeks, but once the babies get a little older you may need to feed them individually based on their particular hunger patterns. I recommend asking for help from a Lactation Consultant in the hospital to help get you and the babies positioned and latched in the most comfortable and effective way possible.
  1. Are you allowed to cook with cacao powder or nibs while breastfeeding? Yes! There’s no need to stay away from cacao while nursing your baby.
  1. My insurance is covering the cost of my pump, any advice on the best one? I recommend going with a good quality, double electric pump. Medela Freestyle and Pump In Style are both great options and are covered under most insurance plans. Medela makes multiple flange sizes (the funnel shaped parts that fit against the breast) to improve the comfort and effectiveness of the pump, which is key to effective milk removal.
  1. I just started pumping with the Medela Freestyle at work and I’ve noticed one breast is producing less milk. Any correlation between pumping at work and lower supply? Lots of moms notice a difference in the milk volume from one breast to the other once they start pumping since breastfeeding doesn’t allow you to see exactly how much milk each breast is producing. A little variation is normal, but if you notice a big difference and/or are worried that your supply is diminishing, I recommend reevaluating your pumping schedule. You may need to pump more often or add an extra pumping session (or two) to help increase your supply if needed. Remember that the more you empty your breasts, the more milk you’ll make.
  1. I breastfeed but would like to get my baby used to taking a bottle every once in awhile. My baby would take a bottle every now and then but now refuses even when he’s hungry and I am not nearby. How do you recommend getting a baby used to switching methods? It’s all about persistence! If you’re baby was taking the bottle before, chances are you can get him to take it again. Offer a bottle at least once per day while using some distraction like walking and singing. You can also try different types of bottles to see which one your baby likes best. Lots of babies I’ve worked with do really well with Comotomo bottles since they’re made out of silicone and mimic the feel of a mother’s breast. 
  2. My baby is teething and wants to nurse all day long. I let her nurse because that is the only thing that soothes her. Is this normal behavior? Some teething babies want to nurse constantly because the nursing soothes them. Other babies get extremely fussy at the breast and are more difficult to console. You can try offering your baby a frozen teether or washcloth prior to breastfeeding or ask your pediatrician about using a baby pain reliever to help ease the baby’s gum soreness.
  3. I’m working in a casino and sometimes I’m exposed to cigarette smoke. Is it OK and safe for my baby since I am breastfeeding and pumping milk during my break? Breastfeeding is the BEST thing you can do for your baby because it provides extra protection against infection and other risks associated with secondhand smoke. Just remember that secondhand smoke can stay on your clothes, so make sure to change when you get home from work to reduce your baby’s exposure.
  4. My baby is about to be a year old and I am starting to think about weaning, but I’ve had recurrent plugged duct issues. How do I go about it but avoid a plugged duct? Good job on breastfeeding your baby for a full year! If you’re starting to think about weaning, I recommend a gradual process since you’re prone to plugged ducts. Whether you choose to eliminate one breastfeeding session every week or decide to increase the amount of time between feedings is totally up to you. Expressing a little milk to relieve pressure will make it more comfortable and prevent issues like plugged ducts and mastitis. Once you start the weaning process, be sure your baby is getting enough nutrition from other sources.
  5. How are the foods I eat impacting the type of milk I produce? Take a look at this article on Foods to eat while breastfeeding for more information on this topic!
  6. My daughter is 7 months old and has poor weight gain. Solids have been introduced already, I’m also supplementing with formula and I’m worried my poor supply will take a further hit. What can I do to increase and or maintain my milk supply? It sounds like you may benefit from a supplemental nursing system (SNS). This feeding device allows you to supplement your baby at the breast (with formula or expressed breast milk) while providing extra breast stimulation. I recommend working with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant in your area to help get your started. She will be able to evaluate your current milk supply and give you the best plan possible to help your baby gain weight.