Would you believe lack of preparation may be to blame for why many women don't succeed at their breastfeeding goals?
breastfeeding newborn baby
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I recall being in the hospital right after giving birth, exhausted and happy, and the labor and delivery nurse asking, "Do you plan to breastfeed?" Um, yes? I think so. Help!

According to the new 2016 Lansinoh Breastfeeding Survey, feeling overwhelmed by breastfeeding a newborn is hardly an unusual experience. In fact, insights from more than 1,000 healthcare providers in five countries reveal that in addition to breast being best, prep (as in preparation) is best. It turns out, moms who talk to their healthcare providers about breastfeeding before baby arrives have the best chance for success.

That's because challenges arise the longer moms wait. Like loss of confidence, perhaps? And wanting to throw in the burp cloth when your nipples crack and bleed, and you didn't even know it was possible to be so uncomfortable? Not that I know from personal experience or anything...

Because of this, 81 percent of survey participants agree it is urgent that expectant moms seek out breastfeeding guidance before giving birth—preferably in the third trimester of pregnancy. But the reality of when these conversations happen looks very different: Nearly half of women wait until delivery or after to discuss things like breastfeeding techniques.

Not being prepared for many of the difficulties that go hand-in-hand with breastfeeding is indeed a leading reason many women don't succeed at it, but the survey revealed there are many other obstacles facing new moms. Not surprisingly, returning to work is chief among them, with 20 percent of healthcare providers citing work/life balance as a top challenge for breastfeeding moms. That number was even higher in the U.S., at 27 percent, due to less supportive maternity leave policies.

Other leading concerns: when breastfeeding is not working for their babies, and a lack of awareness about the tools available.

The bottom line? "Planning and preparation are crucial keys to success in all aspects of life—and breastfeeding is no different," says Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC, Lansinoh's Vice President of Global Healthcare Relations. "By encouraging expectant mothers to talk to their healthcare providers about breastfeeding earlier in the process, we hope moms will ultimately be more comfortable with breastfeeding and will realize that they can always ask their healthcare providers for help in achieving their goals."

The funny thing is, while you'd think this advice would be obvious, it isn't. I never thought to consult my doctor about breastfeeding before delivery. I was too consumed with preparing for my baby's arrival in other ways; there was the nursery color scheme to consider, car seat research to conduct, pies to eat... And yet, I didn't plan ahead for possibly the most crucial aspect of welcoming our daughter: how I would feed her.

Here's hoping this survey will highlight for pregnant women that preparing to breastfeed your baby is just as important (if not more so) than the exact shade of pale green you want to paint the nursery walls.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.