"Breast-feeding is not instinctive," said Katy Lebbing, a board certified lactation consultant in Villa Park, Ill., and a leader for La Leche League International, which promotes breast-feeding. "That's a myth. It's kind of like thinking all men can fix all cars."
Mothers who choose to breast-feed need education and support, agreed Karen Bonuck, associate professor of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who has published studies on breast-feeding practices.
Ask your health-care provider for information about breast-feeding early in your pregnancy, Bonuck advised women. Don't wait until you're six months or more along, she said. Too many other activities -- baby showers, getting the nursery ready, thinking about names -- take your attention during those final months of pregnancy.
Ask your doctor if your hospital has one. Or see a lactation consultant -- you can ask your doctor or the La Leche League for a referral. You should make these preparations before you'll be ready to breast-feed, Lebbing and Bonuck advised.
Just a few sessions with a lactation consultant can pay off, Bonuck said. "You will understand the normal physiology of how the milk is produced," she said. The consultant, working with a doll, can help women practice the best positions to breast-feed and get comfortable with the concept.
"Make your wishes known," Bonuck said. "Some [hospitals] have cards that say, 'Breast-feed only.' " That reduces the risk of confusion and your baby mistakenly getting a bottle of formula, Bonuck said. She also advises mothers-to-
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