Birth control is an issue that often comes up. If mom is breastfeeding on demand and not skipping any feeds during the day or night, she will have some protection against pregnancy. This is called lactational amenorrhea. However, at any point, she can start to ovulate even without resuming her periods so she needs to use an alternative form of birth control. This is why breastfeeding is recommended as a natural form of child spacing. The longer the space between children, the easier it is on mom’s health and her family’s finances.

If you aren’t breastfeeding, ovulation usually happens around forty-five days after delivery. IUDs and progestin only contraceptives and condoms are good choices. IUDs should not be inserted until six weeks after delivery. Combined pills with both estrogen and progestin are not recommended as they can affect the quantity of milk. Spermicides can be used while breastfeeding. Sponges are fine for breastfeeding. Some moms find it difficult to resume sexual activity after childbirth. A combination of exhaustion, pain remaining from childbirth, and the upset in hormonal balance can all reduce a mom’s sexual desire.

When this occurs, changes between both parents are imminent. Mom should talk to her doctor at the six-week checkup and if she resumes sexual activity prior to this appointment, she should use condoms at least ( for some protection against an unwanted pregnancy).
Some moms wonder if they can breastfeed if they have implants or have had breast reduction surgery. Implants placed under the muscle will not have an effect on breastfeeding. Implants put behind the areola will affect lactation as it will block the passage of milk and the nerve supply will also be affected. Surgical intervention such as in breast reduction can affect milk supply. The nerves could be severed which results in a lack of stimulation to the pituitary gland. This results in a lack of milk production. Cut ductwork can block the passage of the milk. Some moms will have an adequate supply of breastmilk after surgery such as the aforementioned, but most will need to supplement throughout the course of lactation. If you have nipple sensation and an ability to express milk, these are two positive signs that breastfeeding may be possible. All you can do is try and seek support from a qualified health practitioner who can help you to maximize your potential to produce milk.

One breast can sustain an infant. There are women who have had injuries to one side like a burn, or a breast removed due to cancer. If mom has one functioning breast, she can nurse her child with an adequate supply. Nipple piercing is common nowadays and can leave scar tissue which can block nipple pores.

People often wonder what to do when the baby bites on the nipple. This often occurs as the baby gets older, gets bored, gets distracted, or could be teething. Mom will voice her displeasure obviously and should immediately remove the baby from the breast. Some moms feel this is a good time to wean.

Weaning can be done at any time mom feels she is ready. However, it is easier for both mom and baby if weaning is done gradually. This way both mom and baby can adjust slowly to this new phase in their relationship. If mom weans abruptly she will become increasingly full and uncomfortable as her body continues to make milk. Pumping and ice will help over this period (and ibuprofen if she can tolerate this medication). Cabbage can also help especially if the weaning is abrupt. Mom can take cabbage leaves, remove the core, crumple and wash in cold water and lay them over her breasts with a cool cloth, or pack her bra with them. It sounds strange, but it works.
There is no right or wrong time to stop breastfeeding. The current recommendations are to breastfeed with the addition of complementary food until the child is 2 years of age. Only the mother can decide what is best for her and her child. Other cultures don’t wean for several years. Some mothers feel the need to stop breastfeeding because they want their bodies back to themselves. After a long pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, most mothers are usually anxious to get their bodies back to themselves. If a mom nurse until the baby is nine months old, the baby can switch to homogenized milk at this point. Anytime prior to this, the baby will need to be fed formula until 9-12 months of age (or donor milk).