Breast milk is the best food for your baby during the first year of life. It has many benefits for your baby and for you.
You and your baby may need time and practice to get comfortable breastfeeding. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may just need a little extra support to get started.
Who can help you with breastfeeding?
You can get breastfeeding help from these people:
- Your health care provider. This is the person who gives you medical care.
- A lactation consultant. This person has special training to help women breastfeed. You can find a lactation consultant through your health care provider or your hospital. Or go to the International Lactation Consultants Association.
- A breastfeeding peer counselor. This is a woman who breastfed her own children and wants to help and support mothers who breastfeed. She has training to help women breastfeed, but not as much as a lactation consultant. You can find a peer counselor through your local WIC nutrition program. Or visit womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline at (800) 994-9662.
- A breastfeeding support group. This is a group of women who help and support each other with breastfeeding. Ask your provider to help find a group near you. Or go to La Leche League.
How can you get help with breastfeeding before your baby’s born?
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding:
- Find a health care provider for you and your baby who supports breastfeeding.
- Find out if the hospital where you’ll have your baby supports breastfeeding. Ask if there is a lactation consultant on staff.
- Take a breastfeeding class. Many hospitals offer these classes.
- Add breastfeeding to your birth plan. A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. Fill out the plan with your partner. Then share it with your provider, your family and other support people. It’s best for everyone to know ahead of time that you plan to breastfeed.
When can you start breastfeeding?
Most women can start breastfeeding within 1 hour after their baby is born. A nurse or lactation consultant can help you get started:
- Tell the nurses that you want to breastfeed.
- Ask to have your baby stay in the room with you so you can breastfeed him when he needs to eat.
- Ask your nurses, the lactation consultant and your baby’s provider to help make sure breastfeeding is going well before you leave the hospital.
How can you get help with breastfeeding after you and your baby are home?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It may take time and practice before you and your baby are comfortable breastfeeding. Here’s what you can do:
- Talk to your provider, your baby’s provider or a lactation consultant.
- Talk to a breastfeeding peer counselor or join a support group.
- Talk to a friend who’s had a good experience breastfeeding. Ask for advice and information.
- Ask your partner for help. Ask your partner to attend a breastfeeding class with you. Or have him feed your baby a bottle of expressed milk (milk that you pump from your breast). This can help your partner share in the feeding experience.
- Learn about breastfeeding from books and DVDs. Your local library may have some good resources.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- La Leche League International
- International Lactation Consultant Association
- American College of Nurse-Midwives
See also: Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU
Last reviewed: June, 2014