Breastfeeding 101
By Laura E. Stachel
Breast milk provides ideal nourishment for newborns and infants, but learning to breastfeed can be challenging. To many first-time moms, breastfeeding may not seem instinctual at all. Fortunately, there are resources for novice moms to learn effective breastfeeding strategies.

Lactation Class
A good lactation class can put an expectant mom on the path to success. This instruction may be offered as a class by a lactation specialist or might be included as part of a package of childbirth classes. A lactation class will teach you several positions that work well for lactation as well as strategies to facilitate infant latch-on. You'll learn to identify cues from your baby that she's ready to nurse and signs that she's full. When you breastfeed, appropriate positioning optimizes your baby's ability to suckle effectively, prevents nipple pain and minimizes back discomfort. You may also learn how to express and store breast milk, which allows others to provide your baby with a bottle of your milk when you're not available to nurse.

Private Lactation Consultation
In addition to group classes, there are instances when a private lactation consultation can be of great help. A board certified lactation consultant can be a lifesaver. Some hospitals have a lactation consultant available to new postpartum mothers or may provide a list of local experts. Your health provider may also have a list of private lactation consultants in your area. Here are some typical situations that could prompt a lactation consultation:
  • If your infant has difficulty latching on or you experience ongoing pain while breastfeeding.
  • If your baby has difficulty waking up for feedings.
  • If your baby is not gaining weight well or fails to wet six to eight diapers a day.
  • If your milk supply seems low.
  • If you think you have a plugged milk duct or early breast infection.
  • If you are nursing twins or triplets.
  • If your baby was born prematurely.
  • If your baby has an illness or special needs, such as Down syndrome.
  • If you are returning to work and want to continue breastfeeding.
On-Line Support
There is also ample information available on the Internet for breastfeeding moms. La Leche League has been supporting mothers with breastfeeding concerns for decades. In addition to providing local classes, their website addresses a myriad of breastfeeding concerns. This website and other online resources are listed below.

To learn about La Leche League International: llli.org

For more articles and answers to breastfeeding questions: breastfeedingonline.com

To find a board-certified lactation consultant in your own community: gotwww.net/ilca