Posted: Feb 10, 2013 6:00 PM
Got milk? Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to nourish and nurture your baby, but sometimes there’s a big learning curve. Learn breastfeeding basics, as well as where to turn for support in case of any breastfeeding challenges.

Take a breastfeeding class

Get a head start on your successful breastfeeding relationship by taking a breastfeeding class before your baby arrives.

Many hospitals and birth centers provide free classes in breastfeeding, which will give you practical steps for getting started, discuss common breastfeeding challenges and solutions and offer an overview on how to use breastfeeding accessories.

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn the basics ahead of time.

Line up a lactation consultant

Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feed your baby, but the skills to do it don’t always come naturally. Stay ahead of the game by lining up a certified lactation consultant to visit with you after the birth of your baby while you are still in the hospital or birth center. As long as your baby is in good health, breastfeeding will begin almost immediately after he or she is born. Having a skilled consultant on hand to assist you while you and your baby are learning is the very best way to get your latch and positioning correct from the start. Visit the International Lactation Consultant Association to find a certified lactation consultant in your area.

Proper positioning and latch

Proper latch and positioning are the keys to your successful breastfeeding relationship. Although some babies naturally latch on in perfect position, others need a little help. Before you begin breastfeeding, line up your baby’s nose with your nipple. Gently tickle your baby’s upper lip with your nipple so he or she opens wide. Don’t insert your nipple into his or her mouth until he or she opens wide enough to take in the entire areola and some of the lower breast tissue. If your nipple is not comfortable, do not continue breastfeeding. Take your baby off the nipple and try again. It may be frustrating at first, but training you baby to latch on correctly will help you avoid future breastfeeding challenges.

Join a breastfeeding support group

Looking for a little TLC in your breastfeeding relationship? Why not join a local La Leche League group for support? They offer guidance, encouragement, answers to questions, breastfeeding resources and a warm, supportive community. Most communities have an active group or you can always start one of your own!

Seek help for breastfeeding challenges

It may seem like just a small little blister at first, but, with breastfeeding, things can get out of hand very quickly. Take care and pay attention to any discomfort on you or your baby’s part while you are nursing. If you notice any difficulties, try repositioning for a good latch. If you have any of the warning signs below, make sure to consult with a certified lactation consultant within 24 hours.

  • You are experiencing anything more than mild discomfort while nursing
  • Your nipples come out of your baby’s mouth creased, pointed or smashed
  • Your baby makes clicking noises while nursing
  • Your baby does not seem to get full while nursing and is rooting and fussing afterwards
  • Your baby is not making enough wet diapers each day

Even if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t get discouraged. Breastfeeding challenges are usually very easy to remedy with the correct guidance and one-on-one support.