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Breastfeeding Basics

The basics of breastfeeding have been covered in so many other great websites, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. But I will make things a little easier for you by summarizing some of the best ones for you here.

But first: read here for more information about Lactation Consultants, and why, if you have any doubt about whether breastfeeding is going OK for you or your baby, you should call one

Just added, my essay called "Just like Riding a Bike: If breastfeeding is supposed to be natural, why are so many moms having trouble?" - a little social perspective on why something so natural can sometimes be so hard. And why it's OK to ask for help.

Links to more Breastfeeding Information

  • is the high queen of breastfeeding sites. This site has everything, and all of it is good. I don't know where Kelly finds the time (yes, there is a Kelly), but she has collected all of the best information in one place, and keeps everything amazingly up to date.

  • Dr. Jack Newman is a pediatrician who has put together a fantastic collection of "breastfeeding handouts". These are informative, easy-to-read, and come in a downloadable pdf format if you want to print them out.

  • Linda Smith, IBCLC (also known as "Coach Smith") has put together a collection of articles that I really like. Her articles are a little more specialized than Dr. Newman's, and she has some nice information about pumps and pumping, in addition to great info for moms just starting out breastfeeding.

  • Diane Wiessinger, IBCLC, has put together a nice collection of articles about breastfeeding. Diane has a no-nonsense manner, and a great way of explaining why breastfeeding is so important.  She has also written a very powerful essay on language, and why we need to start talking about the risks of formula instead of the benefits of breastfeeding.

  • The U.S. Government actually has a really nice website about breastfeeding. It has links to a lot of the breastfeeding policy statements (for example, from the American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as booklets on breastfeeding basics that you can print out (that link goes right to the pdf document). If you are unable to print this document, you can order one for free by calling 1-800-994-9662.

    • I received an email from the web manager of this site stating, "We also provide breastfeeding peer counseling through the 1-800 number (800-994-9662), in English and Spanish.  The call center reps are trained in peer counseling by LLL and a certified LC." - Thanks for the additional info!

  • No list of breastfeeding information would be complete without mention of La Leche League. While LLL is not always the first name to come up with people are talking about working mothers, LLL has compiled quite a bit of useful information for working moms, in addition to their vast storehouse of breastfeeding articles. They have information about your legal right to breastfeed, as well as a special section for working mothers. The LLL website also provides resources for finding a leader or group in your area. If you cannot find one through the website resources (and are in the US) call 1-800-LALECHE or (847) 519-7730. The second number has an automated "find a leader" feature based on your zip code.

  • Just One Bottle Won't Hurt - Will it? A very informative essay by Marsha Walker about the risks of even a few bottles in the early postpartum period. A nice motivation to stick with it if you're having troubles...

What is a Lactation Consultant?

This is what I wrote for a public health booklet - so excuse the formal language:
A Lactation Consultant is a registered health professional trained to help breastfeeding mothers. She has had hours of courses specifically dealing with breastfeeding, and hundreds of hours of practical experience helping mothers and babies. If you have breastfeeding questions after your baby is born, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a Lactation Consultant. Often these visits are covered by your health insurance. A Lactation Consultant who has finished her training and passed the certification exam uses the letters “IBCLC” (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) after her name. There is no other nationally recognized lactation certification, although several regional organizations offer the certifications of CLC or CLE (Certified Lactation Counselor or Certified Lactation Educator).

Now my casual voice: Your pediatrician or nurse may claim to know a lot about breastfeeding, and maybe they do. But a Lactation Consultant is the ONLY health professional specifically trained in breastfeeding management. If you have ANY troubles when you are starting out that do not resolve within days, call a Lactation Consultant. Now, like any health profession, some are good, and some just don't click with every mom. So - what do you do? Ask for names of others - tell her your personalities don't mesh well. If you need help finding a Lactation Consultant, official registries can be found in a couple of places - kellymom has a directory, as does the IBCLC examining organization, IBLCE and the professional organization, ILCA. You can also call local midwifes or doulas to ask for lactation referrals. If you're lucky, your local hospital has a Lactation Consultant on staff, who may know of others in private practice.

The difference between breastfeeding success and frustration can be as simple as a little help. Don't delay. Make the call.


Copyright© 2005 Kirsten Berggren. All Rights Reserved.