Don't Forget Pre-Baby Prep
In the beginning, breastfeeding is a full-time job. You need to center your life around it, and many women aren't ready for that reality. They get overwhelmed and stressed, which compromises milk production and, in turn, stresses the baby, who may not nurse as well. "A woman who doesn't have enough information might assume that something normal, such as temporary engorgement -- when breasts become full of milk, swollen, and painful -- is a sign that something's wrong and that they need to quit," says Jane Crouse, a spokeswoman for La Leche League in Schaumburg, Illinois. Knowing what a normal latch feels like (moderate rhythmic pressure but no real pain) and what a baby sounds like when she's chowing down (swallowing, not smacking) is invaluable.
Smart Steps Talk! I found that simply asking other mothers how they dealt with breastfeeding challenges and hearing lots of different answers broadened my hands-on knowledge far more than any class did. Other moms like to check out instructional videos on YouTube. Some find classes to be helpful; many ob-gyns, midwives, and hospitals run them regularly. It's also a smart idea to line up a lactation consultant, a board-certified health-care provider devoted to guiding nursing moms.