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The One Book Every Breastfeeding Mom Needs

Katlyn Joy |12, October 2014


Breastfeeding is as natural an act as giving birth, and obviously as old. We should just know what to do, when and how. It's pre-programmed, isn't it?

If only. Additionally, so few women nurse for any real length of time, or at all, so that we may never have observed or known a nursling pair. Chances are our mothers, aunts and cousins did not breastfeed. So even mimicking something we've seen regularly isn't applicable in these situations.

In the hospital, if we are lucky, we might get a visit from a lactation consultant or a specialized member of the labor and delivery nursing staff. The consultant will check positioning, how baby is latching on and perhaps give some tips on other positions that may work. We have the opportunity to ask questions, but are likely exhausted and overwhelmed and unable to formulate any coherent queries on the practice of breastfeeding.

So at home, we unpack and get ready to begin life with baby. Then the questions we couldn't think up are zinging through our brains. How do I know when to stop? Do I wake a baby to finish a feeding? How will I know baby is getting enough milk? Why are my nipples so sore? Am I doing this wrong?

Hopefully, the hospital will give you the number of a lactation consultant to call in case of problems or questions. Many hospitals have breastfeeding classes and/or breastfeeding support groups.

You can check to see if a local La Leche League is in your area. For those not aware of LLL, this group began back in 1956 when breastfeeding rates were at an abysmal rate: a mere 20 percent.

The One Breastfeeding Book to OWN

In 1958 the first edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was printed. It contained the purpose of the group and the basics of breastfeeding. By 1964, LLL had to become La Leche League International, or LLLI. In 2010, the 8th edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was published and continues to be a bestseller.

LLLI offers many resources to breastfeeding mothers, such as support, various publications, conferences, and their website offers podcasts and discussion boards.

The pages contain virtually every answer to any question a breastfeeding mother would have. The basics are covered, such as positioning tips, how baby needs to latch on, and how to tell if baby is getting enough milk. If you are experiencing sore nipples, the book will give you solutions.

While the position of LLLI is to continue the nursing relationship exclusively until baby needs to be on solid foods, usually around the middle of the first year of life. They don't set a timetable for when to wean, but rather diplomatically state, "Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need."

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding contains detailed instructions on how to set up a breastfeeding relationship whether you only want to nurse your newborn, breastfeed until solids are introduced, or nurse into or even past the first year.

Topics such as how to handle work, pumping, supplementing and daycare dilemmas are covered. Special concerns such as nursing after having a cesarean section, nursing multiples, breastfeeding a child with special needs, and how to handle premature infants are addressed.

If you ever need answers to the following questions, they are all answered

  • Is it colic or a milk allergy?
  • Why does my breastfed baby look leaner than the bottlefed baby next door?
  • Is this mastitis?
  • Should I keep nursing if I am taking medication or sick?

While you might grab a copy from the neighborhood library, you'll likely find owning your own copy to be an invaluable investment. It is certain to become dog-eared and you'll be grateful you have a copy at your fingertips. The newest version contains new information, updated info and connections to all kinds of resources, including websites.

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