by Danielle Schultz
“Breast is best.” Of course, it does not come naturally to everyone, and it can be hard work getting started. It also can be frustrating when others around you (both friends and strangers) think you are very odd. Because I feel so strongly about sharing information and education about breastfeeding to anyone who will listen, family members have dubbed me a “militant” breastfeeder. I feel that I am just a well-educated, secure, and assertive-when-necessary mom. Breastfeeding is an important part of that role to me, so I do tend to shout from the mountain tops at any opportunity. So here you have a simple article of pointers and tips from an experienced breastfeeding mommy to other moms out there in the same boat. (Sometimes it seems as though we are the only one on the planet to make the decision to breastfeed!) My hero/lactation consultant shared with me that although I am not a certified lactation consultant, I am a breastfeeding advocate just by the mere reason that I chose to breastfeed my children. If the advice in this article are helpful to just one nursing mom out there, I will feel wonderful. So, here we go!
Nursing Mothers Beware
As a breastfeeding mother I had two very different experiences with my children. With my first, I gained most of my knowledge from guides printed by formula companies. Although their hearts might be in the right place, I found a lot of this information to be misleading and actually quite detrimental to my breastfeeding experience. The second time around, I found my hero (you know who you are) in a lactation consultant who lead a nursing moms group. We met weekly to share experiences and discuss concerns about all aspects of parenting. Not only did I find the weekly access to a certified lactation consultant comforting, but it was nice to find out other moms were going through the same things I was. I recommend that all moms (nursing or bottle-feeding) find a group of mothers with similar parenting styles to meet with. Your local lactation consultant might be able to refer you to these groups in your area. I recommend the La Leche League Book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding for all new nursing moms. I also recommend finding a certified lactation consultant you can call from time to time. Most hospitals will provide one while in the hospital. If you like her, make sure to get her name and number. Some WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) offices have a lactation consultant on staff to help mothers with problems or concerns.
Know Your Rights
Along with being well-educated about breastfeeding in general, it is very important to know your rights as a breastfeeding mom. My home state of Florida, for example, has passed legislation which protects all nursing mothers from discrimination. This legislation, Florida Senate Bill #472, was passed in 1993 and amends many criminal statutes to exclude a mother’s breastfeeding her baby; and gives a mother a right to breastfeed her baby any place she has the right to be, public or private, even if the nipple is exposed during or incidental to breastfeeding. This in simpler terms means that anywhere you are legally allowed to be, you are legally allowed to feed your child. Although I do recommend discreet nursing, I do not feel it is right to isolate a mother while she is feeding her baby. If you are comfortable nursing your baby at the dinner table and can do so discreetly (and actually even if you can’t by the letter of the law), then the law allows you to do so. As of May 1999, eighteen additional states currently have legislation protecting mothers who breastfeed in public. Other states have legislation pending. You can find a current listing of laws in place and legislation pending online at
Educate, Educate, Educate
Many people in today’s day and age know that breastmilk is the optimal food source for our children, but have not been exposed to it very often due to the formula-fad in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I have found that sharing just how good it is for our babies has helped to raise the acceptance of the people around me. Of course, I am always ready to understand that not everyone wants to be educated and informed.
WWW Your Way I
personally found the internet to be a wealth of information for breastfeeding moms. There I found other moms like myself on message board, through email groups and web pages. My personal web link page has many links for parents and breastfeeding pages at http://members.aol.com/danidawn/links.html. The breastfeeding advocate group MomsNET also has a good link page at There is also a breastfeeding resource here at ChildFun.
For the Cracks and Pains
Many people associate pain and breastfeeding as a given. Though this is not necessarily true (often early pain can be attributed to incorrect latch on by baby-consult someone to assist you with proper latch on), when nipples become cracked or painful, there is relief. La Leche League leaders generally recommend the use of Lansinoh, which is specifically formulated for nursing moms and is hypo-allergenic for both mom and baby. Some nursing moms have found pure Lanolin of benefit as well, and it may be found at most pharmacies (ask the pharmacist if you can’t find it, sometimes they hide it behind the counter!)
Which Breast Next?
Many moms find it difficult in the early days to remember which breast to begin the next nursing with once the time has gone by in between sessions. Some moms use the method of wearing a special ring on the hand of the first breast for the next feeding. “Scrunchie” hair ties can be worn as a bracelet to remind mom which breast to offer first at the next nursing. A safety pin may also be clipped to the bra strap above the breast.
Good Pumps Vs. Bad Pumps
A good breast pump can make or break a nursing mom’s success at pumping. I personally have never been in the situation where I had to pump my breastmilk. The times I tried, I was NOT very successful. I found out the reason from other nursing moms. The main problem was the pump I was using. I got my pump at a department store for under $50. My lactation consultant fondly refers to these as “breast eaters.” If you are planning to go back to work, there are several very effective pumps on the market. They do range in the $200 range, but I look at it from the perspective of how quickly I would spend that $200 on formula if I were not in the good situation of nursing at work.
Rally the Support of Your Partner
The best ally you can have in your goal to be a successful breastfeeder is of those around you. Whether it is your husband, significant other, parents, friends or neighbors, let these people know that nursing your child is important to you. Explain that you always plan to do the best that you can for your baby and that you believe strongly that this is the first step in the right direction. Let them know that their support will be a comfort to you in the days/weeks/months or even years ahead.
Be Okay with Being Different
I learned in my nursing mom’s club that parents of nursed children often share similar parenting characteristics and techniques. This is not to say that we all see everything the exact same way, but often approach things similarly. I learned from this group that choices that I make may seem odd to “the mainstream” , but are actually common among nursing moms. So if you choose to allow your baby to sleep with you (co-sleep), use a sling, feed on demand, or other behavior not common to the western culture, know that it is really okay to be different from the others around you. As long as you and your baby are fine with the choices you make (barring of course neglectful or abusive behavior), that should be your only concern. (Of course you’ll be considered a “radical” mom like me!)
Know Your Baby
As with advice from me or any other well-meaning advice-giver, always remember that you are the expert on your baby. You are the one who is best at reading his/her cues. Follow these cues and your heart and take all advice with a grain of salt. Always remember that there are many correct ways to do most anything.
Honorable mention…although the next piece of advice does not have to do with breastfeeding, I feel it is important enough to share with all moms.
Dermoplast is a new mom’s best friend… I did not realize with my first baby that there was such a creation as Dermoplast. Dermoplast is a first aid spray which may be used to comfort sore and tender areas such as episiotomy/tear sites. With my second child they issued me a can in the hospital and I realized it is one of the finest inventions a new mom can have. With any future children who may come along, I will pack a can of this in my hospital bag, just in case the hospital decides to no longer carry this godsend. Most pharmacies carry the item, ask for it by name.