A: There are important things that you can do ahead of time to help ensure success in nursing your newborn and young infant. I would certainly suggest attending a class taught by an IBCLC (that is, an international board-certified lactation consultant), who can help you anticipate what the early days and weeks of breastfeeding can be like. Many hospitals and birth centers offer classes, and some organizations, such as La Leche League International, offer meetings open to pregnant and nursing mothers.
It’s also important, before giving birth, to know the names of IBCLCs who offer phone assistance or one-on-one consultations should you need hands-on help during the early days. Visit ilca.org to find the names of local IBCLCs, and ask the hospital staff for recommendations.
Having a pediatrician who routinely refers to IBCLCs if and when the need arises means that the doctor is truly supportive of nursing mothers. Many mothers have found that having a breastfeeding guide, like The Nursing Mother’s Companion, at their bedside is excellent for answering most breastfeeding concerns.
Lastly, talk to friends and family who have successfully nursed their babies. They can be a good source of encouragement should you need it.
—Kathleen Huggins, RN, MS, author of The Nursing Mother’s Companion: The Breastfeeding Book Mothers Trust, from Pregnancy through Weaning, now in its 7th edition