The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Plan For Success
Don't wait until your baby's born to educate yourself about breastfeeding. Take the following steps while you're pregnant to help guarantee a good experience:
Enroll in a class Many hospitals, obstetric practices and health clinics offer prenatal breastfeeding classes. Once the baby's born, attend a few La Leche League meetings (for information, call 800-525-3243 or visit llli.org).
Line up a lactation consultant "Find out ahead of time who you'll call if there's a problem," advises lactation consultant Ann Seacrest of MilkWorks. To find a certified lactation consultant, contact the International Lactation Consultant Association at 919-861-5577, ilca.org.
Make a connection Meet with a lactation consultant before delivery if you anticipate complications—for example, if prenatal testing has indicated that your baby may have a health problem, if you are expecting multiples, or if you have inverted nipples, a history of breast surgery or other conditions that might make breastfeeding difficult.
Check out your hospital Find out if the hospital where you'll deliver has a lactation department. "If the hospital does not offer such help, find a board-certified lactation consultant who will visit you in the hospital," Seacrest advises.
State your intentions Tell your doctor and nurses that you want to breastfeed your baby after the birth. Experts recommend nursing within an hour of delivery, if possible.
Ask for help Once you're back home with your baby, ask family and friends to help out with chores and meal prep so you can focus on nursing your baby and taking care of yourself. Or consider hiring a postpartum doula (for information, contact Doulas of North America at 888-788-DONA, dona.org).