Breastfeeding is a natural process, but that does not mean that it comes easily to every mother and baby. Many women find breastfeeding support necessary in order to successfully breastfeed their infants. Previous generations relied heavily on the wisdom of mothers and grandmothers for help in learning the art of breastfeeding. Later, as formula feeding became more common, women struggled to learn how to breastfeed on their own, because older relatives had used formula. Fortunately, professional help is available, as is help from other mothers, the Internet, and support groups.
Lactation consultants receive specialized training to learn how to help women with breastfeeding problems. A lactation consultant may be a nurse who decides to specialize in helping new moms, or someone without a formal health background. Individuals with training in social work, child development, physical therapy, or simply an individual who feels passionate about providing breastfeeding support can all be successful as lactation consultants.
Other moms are another good resource for nursing mothers. Having an experienced mom to provide breastfeeding support offers inexperienced nursing mothers an individual who can offer support and understanding, as well as a sympathetic ear. Another mom understands the difficulties experienced while breastfeeding that may have little to do with actual nursing difficulties, such as making time for other children, discomfort with nursing in public, and the fatigue that goes along with around-the-clock feedings. While it is easy to discuss concerns with other moms, it is important to take health and safety worries to a healthcare provider. Concerns over whether the baby is getting enough to eat, what foods or medications to avoid while nursing, and other related questions require a professional answer.
The Internet is full of advice, both good and bad, for nursing mothers. There are several ways to find reliable breastfeeding support online, however. Look at online medical sites for advice on nursing positions, recommended foods and calorie consumption, and how to treat problems such as cracked nipples. Look for online breastfeeding support forums to chat with other mothers about how old their babies were when they slept through the night, what style of clothing made nursing in public convenient and discrete, and for other general support issues.
Support groups can provide a supportive group atmosphere that encourages breastfeeding and offers support from experienced coaches. Support groups are useful, both in learning to breastfeed successfully and in providing support for the emotional aspect of nursing. Depending on your location, support groups may provide regular meetings, in-home consultations, reading and resource materials, and online support. Pediatricians and women's centers at major hospitals can offer advice on reputable local groups and organizations.