Month 3} I’m going back to my full-time job in a few weeks. What do I need to know about pumping? Now’s the time to tell your employer that you plan to continue breastfeeding. “It will help make things go more smoothly if you can figure out where and when you will pump before you actually get back to work,” Panchula says. You already should have begun pumping, both to get your baby used to taking a bottle and so you’ll have a supply of breast milk stored in the freezer. If you haven’t started, get going! You either can rent a hospital-grade pump (for about $1 a day) or buy an electric pump (expect to spend between $100 and $350). How often you need to pump will depend on your baby’s demands and how long you will be away from him every day. “Some women pump three times a day at the same times their babies would normally nurse,” Panchula says. “But some get away with pumping just once.”
Month 4} Is it OK for me to have a glass of wine yet? An occasional drink—one serving or less of alcohol per day—hasn’t been shown to be harmful to a breastfeeding baby, according to La Leche League International. However, moderate or heavy drinking can have a negative effect on your milk production and on your baby’s weight gain. If you do choose to have an occasional glass of wine, it’s best to drink slowly and on a full stomach.
Month 5} Should my breastfed baby be sleeping through the night yet? First, keep in mind that “sleeping through the night” at this age actually means five or six hours, not eight or nine. Second, every baby is unique. Some will start sleeping through at 3 months; others won’t until much later. “Babies sleep through the night when they’re ready, whether or not they’re breastfed,” Panchula says. That said, because breast milk is digested so completely and more quickly than formula, breastfed babies do tend to eat—and therefore wake— more frequently than formula-fed babies.
Month 6} My baby seems ready for solids. How and when do I introduce them? “Breast milk still is the most important part of your baby’s diet at this age, so breastfeed right before you offer cereal or other food,” Page Ferrarello says. When you do offer solids, start with rice cereal and gradually add a cooked or mashed fruit or vegetable. Be sure to wait three to five days before introducing a different food so you can trace the cause of any allergic reaction.
Month 7} 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,” Page Ferrarello says. Depo-Provera (injections given every three months) is another progestin-only contraceptive that is safe to use while breastfeeding.