Preparing to breastfeed
So, you've decided to breastfeed - wonderful! We're here to help you get prepared, and to supply you with resources for help if you need it. Breastfeeding is such a natural thing; you would think that mother and baby should just instinctively know how to do it. While there is truth to that statement, there are a number of reasons why breastfeeding might get off to a rough start. Mom might have flat or inverted nipples, be tired and sore from a difficult birth or recovering from a c-section, or be unaware of how to watch for a good latch. Baby might be groggy from medications given during labor or have difficulty learning to latch on properly if (s)he received a pacifier or a bottle in the hospital. Your best bet for breastfeeding success is to arm yourself with knowledge beforehand, to have a few necessary supplies on hand, and to be aware of the resources that are available for help if you need them.
There are lots of books available on breastfeeding; some provide better information than others. Current research supports feeding one cue (whenever the baby is hungry) as the best approach, so be wary of any book that encourages you to feed your baby on a predetermined schedule. Some good books to start with are The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International, The Breastfeeding Book by William and Martha Sears, and The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins. If you plan to return to work after the birth of your baby, Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor would be a valuable addition to your library. Motherwear's Essential Breastfeeding Guide also an excellent resource that can be downloaded and printed for free.
Very little is needed in the way of supplies to breastfeed successfully - as a mother you're already possess the most important "equipment"! But there are few things that are good to have on hand to make the process go more smoothly. The first is 3-4 good nursing bras. Motherwear offers the most extensive selection of high-quality and stylish nursing bras available in sizes 32A to 50J. Be sure to choose carefully to ensure a proper fit. In the early weeks, you will probably want to use breast pads as well to help with any milk leakage. You may also want to have some Lansinoh Cream or other nipple cream on hand in case you have any problems with soreness. In addition, there are nice breastfeeding support kits available that would make a nice gift for any nursing mother.
If you're going to be returning to work and will be unable to nurse your baby there, you will need to purchase a good breast pump and storage containers. You will also need to get a few bottles. Special cleaning brushes and/or racks for the dishwasher can be helpful as well.
While most mothers anticipate that breasfeeding will go smoothly right from the start, it is a good idea to be aware of resources for help should you need them. La Leche League International offers excellent mother-to-mother support by phone, local meetings, and sometimes even in-home visits. Experienced breastfeeding mothers are available to answer questions about common problems as well as just lend a sympathetic ear. If you find yourself with a more serious problem or medical condition, you should have the name of a good board certified lactation consultant to call. It is always better to seek out help early on than to let the problem compound over time, making it more difficult to solve.
About the Author
Laura King is a stay-at-home mom and co-owner of www.delightfulchild.com, a natural parenting website with plenty of information on breastfeeding and parenting.
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