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Latching your baby on correctly whenever he's interested should head off most breastfeeding problems. But here are some other tips:
Attend a La Leche League International meeting (lalecheleague.org) to learn how others solved common challenges. Line up a lactation consultant to call in case of problems. Read the recently updated classic, The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N. (Harvard Common Press, 2005).
First Days: Room in with your baby at the hospital and instruct the nurses not to give him formula without your OK. Ask your hospital's lactation consultant or your baby's pediatrician to observe and critique your nursing technique. Wake your baby to feed if he sleeps longer than four hours.
First Two Weeks: Nothing soothes sore nipples like lanolin, so keep plenty on hand. If you're engorged, put bags of frozen peas in your bra to soothe the pain. Before feeding, microwave a water-soaked diaper for 20 seconds and apply it to your breasts.
At Four Weeks: Daddy's turn? Experts agree it's fine to pump and introduce a bottle or two a day now. Increase the chances your infant will take it by having your mate tuck a recently worn shirt of yours under the baby's chin before feeding.
Anytime: Even if you seek help, breastfeeding may not work for you and your baby. Don't waste time beating yourself up--instead, learn formula-feeding basics at familydoctor.org/178.xml.