by Amanda Miller Allen
Breastfeeding is a natural way to nourish your infant, but most new mothers will tell you it doesn’t come naturally.
You and baby will be learning a new skill. It takes a little patience to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll quickly become a pro. “Some women breeze through it,” says Sharon Birdseye of Lactation Consultants of Atlanta. “We see women who realize they need a little help. It’s a learned experience and it takes practice, just like using a computer or riding a bicycle.” Plan to take classes in the second trimester of your pregnancy to get prepared.
Some resources to get you started:
La Leche League International: Don’t wait until your infant is born to get in touch with this organization that has been helping new moms get comfortable with breastfeeding for more than 50 years. Though the group does not hold formal classes, it does offer informational meetings and support for new mothers. Many new mothers find the group’s book, The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding, essential. To find a group that meets near you, call 404-681-6342 or visit www.lllofga.org.
Your doctor and hospital: Most obstetrics hospitals also have breastfeeding support classes, usually for a fee, to attend before birth and for support afterwards; some have breastfeeding hotlines to answer questions. Most have lactation consultants on staff to help with the first feedings in the hospital. Most insurance plans cover in-patient lactation services and some reimburse out-patient services or allow use of flexible spending accounts to pay for services.
Certified lactation consultants: Several private companies in metro Atlanta offer breastfeeding classes for a fee, plus office, hospital and home visits and telephone services. Some insurance plans reimburse for these services or allow use of flexible spending accounts.
All About Pumps
Once you’re committed to breastfeeding, you’ll need a breast pump. The type of pump you need depends on your circumstances.
- Will you be a stay-at-home mom whose breastfeeding adventure is off to a great start? If you’ll only occasionally need to pump, you might be fine with a manual pump.
- Will you only be leaving your infant with a sitter for a night out now and then? A mid-grade electric pump costing less than $100 might be fine.
- Will you be working and need to pump several times every day? You might want a hospital-grade dual electric pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once. Those units can cost $1,000 or more, but many lactation consultants and hospitals rent them for $55-$75 a month. You’ll have to buy a personal collection kit to use the pumps, in the $50-$75 range.
Some working moms choose a personal dual electric pump that’s lighter to transport and costs in the $200-$400 range. While these pumps might sound expensive, keep in mind that you’ll be saving more than $200 a month on infant formula.
Resist the temptation to borrow or buy a used pump. The Food and Drug Administration says personal pumps can harbor bacteria and viruses when droplets of milk get into their internal parts; the hospital pumps are designed to prevent milk from seeping into those inner parts.
5 reasons to breastfeed your infant:
- Breastfeeding may make the baby’s immune system stronger. The practice reduces your infant’s risk of developing a food allergy.
- Breastfed babies have fewer respiratory and ear infections.
- Breastfeeding may lower your child’s risk of developing diabetes.
- Breastfed babies may have better cognitive development and higher IQs.
- Bonus for Mom: Breastfeeding promotes emotional well-being and lessens new-mother anxiety, delays fertility, aids in weight loss and lowers the risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. It also saves preparation time and money, compared to using formula.
Read Up On It:
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, Second Edition
by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PH.D., IBCLC
(New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2010, $13)
Read up on the “laws” of breastfeeding – for example, mothers and babies are hardwired to breastfeed. The book offers tips and advice on the benefits of breastfeeding from two certified lactation consultants. Find out what to do when the “system” stops working, what does (and does not) affect your breast milk and more. Plus, check out the back for a list of helpful websites and contacts on everything from milk leakage to where to rent a breast pump.