The First Year
From birth until weaning, nursing moms face different issues as their babies grow. Here's a month-by-month guide.
Month 6: How and when should I introduce solid foods?
"Breast milk is still the most important part of your baby's diet at this age, so you should always nurse right before you offer cereal or other food," says Ferrarello. When you do offer solids, start with rice cereal and gradually add a cooked or mashed fruit or vegetable. (Many pediatricians believe it's fine to start with a fruit or vegetable; check with yours.) Be sure to wait three to five days before introducing a new food to your baby so you can trace the cause of any allergic reaction.
Month 8: I keep getting clogged milk ducts, and they're really painful. 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. "Milk 'stasis'—when milk sits in the breast—can cause the ducts to clog, so if your baby is nursing less frequently because he's eating more solids, your breasts can become overly full." 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 flu-like symptoms, see your doctor; you might have mastitis, an infection that may require antibiotics.
Month 9: My baby has several teeth and keeps biting me! How can I make him stop?
Ferrarello suggests taking him off the breast as soon as he starts to bite, saying, "No biting!" and keeping him off the breast until the next feeding. You can also make a sad face. Biting—which is nothing more than experimentation—usually happens toward the end of a feeding, Ferrarello adds, so if you can tell that your baby is almost finished nursing, remove him from the breast before he chomps down.
Month 11: My baby is eating more solids. How often should he nurse?
"A minimum of four times a day is what we expect," says Corky Harvey, R.N., M.S., I.B.C.L.C., co-owner of The Pump Station in Santa Monica and Hollywood, Calif. "A baby this age should be getting about 16 to 20 ounces of breast milk per day." At the end of the first year, half a baby's calories should be coming from breast milk.
Month 12: Are there reasons to breastfeed for longer than a year?
The health benefits don't stop at your baby's first birthday. "As long as your baby is getting breast milk, he's getting all the immunological benefits it provides," Harvey says. But there is another important reason to consider, she adds: "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. As long as she and the baby are happy, there is no reason to wean."