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Breast-Feeding: Nature's Formula for Success

Getting on the Right Track continued...

Line up a support network: Take a prenatal breast-feeding class. Find out if your hospital or birthing center has a formal policy to encourage breast-feeding (for instance, the AAP recommends nursing within the first hour). Get telephone numbers of sources who can help once you're at home, such as a breast-feeding hotline, private lactation consultants or your local La Leche League, which offers mother-to-mother support groups. Referrals of local lactation consultants are provided by the International Lactation Consultants Association at (919) 787-5181.

Pain is a sign that something isn't right. Often the culprit may be positioning, latching on or your baby's sucking skills, which can be remedied with the help of a skilled mother or a lactation consultant. Red patches on the breast and fever are signs of an infection, which require antibiotics. Draining the breasts completely will help to prevent infections.

Optimize the transition back to work: Although you'll probably feel bad leaving your baby, experts say nursing can actually help you feel connected to your baby even though you're apart. To get ready for the separation, start pumping and bottle-feeding your baby about a week, or so, before your first day back. Introduce a bottle initially when the baby's not hungry so frustration isn't compounded by hunger. If giving a bottle is unsuccessful, a flexible plastic cup might work. Electric pumps with a double-collection kit, which can be rented as well as purchased, are easier to use and more efficient than manual pumps. Massaging and compressing the breasts while pumping are also helpful.

Make sure you marshal the support you need at work. "Typically what the mom needs is a gatekeeper -- it could be her supervisor, a secretary ... someone who makes sure that she's enabled to pump, typically two to three times a day, and that co-workers are supportive," Walker says. Find a day-care center that will respect your choice to breast-feed. She even suggests spending time there each week, just hanging out so that your body will make antibodies to germs your baby will be exposed to.


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