Can I take birth-control pills if I’m breastfeeding?
“Yes. But opt for a progestin-only ‘mini-pill,’ since pills containing estrogen can decrease milk supply,” Ferrarello says. Depo-Provera—an injection given every three months— is another progestin-only contraceptive that is safe to use while breastfeeding; wait six weeks after childbirth before beginning use.
I keep getting clogged milk ducts. What causes them, and what can I do to treat them?
“One of the risk factors for clogged ducts is a change in a baby’s feeding pattern,” Ferrarello says. “If your baby is nursing less frequently because he’s eating more solids, milk ‘stasis’— when milk sits in the breast—can occur and cause the ducts to clog.” The best way to treat clogged ducts is by nursing or pumping often from the affected breast, applying warm compresses, and getting plenty of fluids and rest. If you have a fever or flulike symptoms, see your doctor; you may have mastitis, an infection that often requires antibiotics.
My baby keeps biting me! How can I make him stop?
Take him off the breast as soon as he starts to bite, say, “No biting!” and keep him off the breast until the next feeding. Also be alert: Biting usually happens toward the end of a feeding, so if you can tell that your baby is almost finished nursing, remove him from the breast before he clamps down.
My baby often seems uninterested in nursing. Is this normal?
“This is completely normal at this age,” Harvey says. “Babies are curious about their world and really start to explore now.” Your budding toddler may be distracted by every noise he hears, which causes him to pull away from the breast; or he may be crawling, in which case he really wants to explore. While this might be a frustrating time for you, it should pass; it typically doesn’t mean that the baby is ready to wean.
My baby is eating more solids. How many times a day should he be nursing?
“A minimum of four times a day is what we expect,” Harvey says. “A baby this age should be getting about 16 to 20 ounces of breast milk daily.” At the end of the first year, half of a baby’s calories should be coming from breast milk.
I’m not sure I’m ready to wean. Are there any good reasons to breastfeed for longer than a year?
There are many reasons to continue nursing, but one of the best is your baby’s health: Breast milk continues not only to protect him from many illnesses, but it also will help him recover more quickly if he does get sick. “As long as your baby is drinking breast milk, he’s getting all the immunological benefits nursing provides,” Harvey says.
But there’s more. “A nursing mother and her infant have a special bond, and there is no reason any woman should be in a hurry to give it up,” Harvey adds. “As long as she and the baby are happy, there is no reason to wean.”