Build a Network
Lebbing suggests building a network support system before the baby arrives. Preparation can make a tremendous difference in how smoothly the first days of breastfeeding go. "This is a mom's most important dinner party of their life," says Lebbing. "If they were having party guests they would prepare way ahead by shopping, cooking, and decorating."
If there are no available friends or family members, a support group, available through local hospitals, the La Leche League or other organization, can provide that much needed support for a new mom. Moms can share their experiences and receive reassurance from other moms who have been there.
"I read books like crazy, searched the Internet, and made mistakes until it all worked out," says Tammy Boyd about how she prepared for breastfeeding her first child. "The second time, I reached out and called friends more readily with questions. I read books less and talked more. I think I was feeling more confident, like it was OK not to have all of the answers and to ask for help. I tell new moms to never feel like a question is stupid, or like they should know something. [New moms should] always reach out and ask someone for advice or for someone just to listen because that is what gets you through the first few tough weeks," says this mom from East Hampton, Connecticut.
Although a support person may be essential in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, it can also get you through the challenging times further on. Deb Pizzonia of East Haddam, Connecticut, recalls, "When my son was seven months old, it began to get very frustrating to nurse him. I talked to someone that I knew who had nursed two children until after the age of one, and she gave me helpful suggestions and ideas to try. It really helped me to hear that it wasn't just me and that it was a stage my son was going through."
Finding the right support person (or persons) for your needs is essential, since there are a lot of people that are happy to give support and advice to new moms. If you are in need of an ear to listen to your feelings or a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic friend or family member may help you feel better. But if you have any physical concern, such as soreness or pain, a professional lactation consultant may be more helpful—just be sure she is Board Certified (IBCLC or RLC).