There are lots of great sites online about breastfeeding which is good news since there is so much information a breastfeeding mama might want to know! This page gives you a starting place for information about breastfeeding and points you towards a lot of other great resources so you can dive in and learn as much as you want. Let me know if there’s more information you’re looking for that I can include here!
La Leche League International is the #1 source for breastfeeding information. If you are looking for in-person assistance, you may also be able to find La Leche League meetings near you. In person meetings with other breastfeeding mothers can be enormously more valuable than online information, especially if you are new to breastfeeding, having any issues, needing some friendly support, or just want to be in company that understands you. Even if there are no meetings near you, the La Leche League Leaders listed on the meeting pages will all be happy to talk to you on the phone or through email if you need breastfeeding support.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- See this La Leche League page for many articles on the benefits of breastfeeding.
- Breastmilk has just the right balance of ingredients, providing all the nutrients your growing baby needs.
- It is easier to digest than formula.
- Breastmilk contains hormones and antibodies that protect your baby from illness, which cannot be replicated by formula. Formula-fed babies have more ear infections and respiratory infections, among other illnesses, as well as more cases of SIDS.
- It’s easier on you. There’s nothing to sterilize and nothing to prepare.
- It’s cheaper. Formula supplies cost hundreds of dollars a year plus increased medical care costs.
- The physical contact of breastfeeding provides emotional benefits to both mama and baby.
- If you need more reasons to breastfeed this page lists 101 reasons to do it, everything from the nicer containers to reducing greenhouse gases!
Preparing for Breastfeeding
- If there are La Leche League meetings near you, you can go even before you give birth. Just hearing other women talk about breastfeeding will give you confidence.
- If you have relatives who breastfed, ask them to share their experiences with you. Guide them towards sharing positive stories with you, if you can. What did they like about breastfeeding? What tips can they offer you?
- Your local hospitals/birthing centers may offer breastfeeding classes. Check with your health department about possible low-cost or free classes, too.
- Add a good breastfeeding book to your shelf before you need it. There are lots of good options, but The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is the gold standard.
- Consider what accessories might help you out, like a Boppy pillow, a nursing cover, or nursing bras.
Breastfeeding How To
If you give birth in a hospital or birthing center, there may be lactation consultants on hand to help you with your first steps into breastfeeding. Take advantage of them! They are there to help, and while it may seem awkward in those first couple of days, the assistance will be so valuable!
You will develop your own breastfeeding patterns as you and your baby learn together. Here are some of the basic steps to start off with:
- Get comfortable. Support yourself with pillows if you want to, and have anything handy that you might want like your phone or a glass of water.
- Support your baby’s head with one hand and your breast with the other. Bring your baby to your breast; don’t lean over to bring your breast to your baby.
- Touch your baby’s lower lip with your nipple until your baby’s mouth opens up wide. You want your baby to get a big mouthful of areola.
- If you feel pain past the first few seconds or something else seems off and you want to try to re-latch your baby, first break the suction by putting your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth or by pressing down on your areola right next to your baby’s lips.
- When you are starting out, feed your baby every two to three hours or whenever your baby seems hungry.
- Here is a guide to breastfeeding that includes some sketches to help you visualize the process.
- And here’s a guide to help you determine if you have a correct latch.
- It can be extremely helpful for new mamas to see examples of breastfeeding. This site has several videos, including examples of different problems.
Common Breastfeeding Issues
- Engorgement is when your breasts become overly full and swollen. This can happen in the beginning when your milk supply is first starting, if you go a long period without feeding, or if there’s a sudden change in your baby’s feeding habits.
- Sore nipples can occur as a result of a bad latch.
- A plugged duct is when your milk flow gets blocked by a buildup of skin cells and milk.
- Overactive letdown is when your milk comes out too fast for your baby to manage, leading your baby to gag or refuse to feed.
Pumping and Work
I haven’t pumped breastmilk or breastfed while working out of the home, so this is an area where I don’t know a lot. I’d like to grow this section over time, but I have more learning to do. Here are a couple of good pages I found:
I’d love to recommend products that help facilitate pumping. Can you recommend any that you found useful?
Nursing in Public (NIP)
In the US, you have the right to nurse your child in public, anywhere you are otherwise allowed to be, and you don’t have to be “discreet” or take any special steps on behalf of other people if you don’t want to. You can read more about the legal side of nursing or look up the specific laws in your state.
The Carnival of Nursing in Public is a wonderful resource for endless reading on this topic from multiple writers. The carnival posts are separated into five days and topics:
- Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
- Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
- Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
- Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
- Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It
Along with La Leche League, the other stand-out online resource is KellyMom. KellyMom is a trustworthy site, well organized to address many different issues. You could spend all day reading about breastfeeding!
- Getting Started Breastfeeding: What to expect, how to prepare, common concerns, etc.
- Safety While Breastfeeding: Covers medications, herbs, vitamins, and illnesses.
- Nursing the Older Baby: Common baby concerns like teething, and mama concerns like supply and fertility.
- Breastfeeding Past a Year: Myths, facts, common concerns, and answering criticism.
- Weaning: Extensive information on the end of the breastfeeding process.
This excellent 40+ page PDF is an overview of these and other topics and offers a helpline – 800-994-9662 – where you can talk to a breastfeeding peer counselor. Breastfeeding can seem like a big or complicated topic, but there is lots of help and information out there for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it.
Here is another comprehensive online guide to breastfeeding. Check it out if you want to see a lot of useful breastfeeding information presented in a clear, easily navigable form.
This resource page on breastfeeding will grow over time, as I find more useful information and links to add.
What other information about breastfeeding would you like to know or what other information would you add to this page?