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Birth Team Advice: On-the-Spot Breastfeeding Support continued...

"I asked every nurse who came into the room, 'Am I doing it right?' and they really helped me," she says. After she brought Luca home, a nurse from the hospital called to see how she and the baby were doing and asked specifically about breastfeeding.

Too much breastfeeding advice can become another problem. Some new mothers find a barrage of birth team advice confusing. After San Francisco mother Jessica Kitchingham's baby, Sydney, was delivered on Christmas Eve last year, she began breastfeeding almost immediately. They stayed in the hospital for a few days because Jessica had had a Cesarean delivery, and one morning a nurse congratulated her on her nursing progress.

"She said we were doing better than anyone else on the maternity ward," Kitchingham recalls. "But later that same day, a different nurse told us Sydney was losing weight and instructed us to supplement with formula."

Looking back, Kitchingham thinks Sydney's weight loss was nothing to worry about -- it's normal for babies to lose weight right after they're born. But the incident shook the new mom's confidence.

"Once my milk came in, she began gaining just fine, but I still felt really incompetent," she says. "She'd sometimes get fussy when she was nursing, and I was sure I was doing something wrong." For Kitchingham, the solution was a breastfeeding consultant.

Lactation Consultants: Nursing Support at Home

If you have trouble nursing your newborn or just want a few tips and a dose of comfort, consider hiring a lactation consultant. They provide breastfeeding information and training; a consultant will observe you as you nurse your baby and offer suggestions. Lactation consultations can be pricey: $100 per hour or more, depending on where you live. But often one or two visits are enough, and are well worth it to many mothers for the support they provide right in your own home.

When Kitchingham brought Sydney home from the hospital, the baby's weight was fine, but she'd still occasionally pull away from the breast and cry during nursing for no apparent reason.

Kitchingham contacted lactation consultant Michele Mason, and a single visit helped restore her confidence and allowed her to relax. "I think we were all kind of stressed out," Kitchingham says. "The hospital had us worried about her weight, and my mother thought we should be waking her up to feed her -- I felt like I was doing everything wrong.

"When Michele came over, she alleviated my worries. She demonstrated different nursing positions and showed us how to hold the baby to relieve gas. She told us that during the first few weeks, all we needed to do was bond with our baby and not to worry about anything else."