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Just 3 Things Every Expecting Mom Should Do

Are you a type-A mama-to-be who is plowing through her to-do list at record speed, and wants to cut to the chase on breastfeeding? Or are you overwhelmed by all the breastfeeding info out there, or still deciding whether it’s right for you or not?  Either way, we’ve got the low-down on the 3 most important things every expecting mother should do:   1) Take a good breastfeeding class and make sure you know about the boobytraps, 2) read a basic breastfeeding book, 3) watch another mother nurse. Since not all classes, books (and even breastfeeding moms) are equal, read on:

Best for Babes Top 3 Must-Do Tasks for Expecting Babes

1.  Take an excellent breastfeeding class. Not a few minutes tacked on to the end of your birth class, and note that hospitals with a lousy breastfeeding track record are NOT a good source of information on breastfeeding.   The Centers for Disease Control found that most hospitals in the U.S. score a D on breastfeeding support.  Our advice is to rely on word-of-mom advice from a successfully breastfeeding mother to find a good breastfeeding class.   Or ask a doula (search for one by zipcode at www.dona.org), a lactation counselor in your area (search for an LC by zipcode at www.ilca.org), or a la leche league leader (www.llli.org).   A class is also a great place to meet other women who are planning on breastfeeding and can end up being your ready-made support group.  You should also familiarize yourself with the booby traps . . . if you’re not aware of them, you can be blind-sided, so review them and consider yourself ahead of the curve!

2.  Read a book. Even if you take notes, you may not remember everything.   Chances are, you’ve read or are reading a book about pregnancy, why not read a book about breastfeeding?   After all, pregnancy lasts 9 months, the benefits of breastfeeding last a lifetime.  We suggest a basic, easy to read (not-encyclopedia-britannica tome) book that is engaging and positive.  Here are four that will appeal to a wide variety of women, though the first is a winner for everyone:

Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher & Kathy Kendall-Tackett, 2010.  This is a must-read and our top pick.  Newly updated and excellent; explains the natural laws of breastfeeding–follow them!   Every word in this book is sublime, and it is gentle and encouraging.  Give it to yourself or give it to a friend who is expecting.  Actress Jenna Elfman raved about it in our interview with her.

So that’s what they’re for by Janet Tamaro, 2005.  If the thought of reading a breastfeeding book makes your eyes glaze over, so you plan to skip this step, don’t . . .  reach for this hilarious book, it will entertain and educate you on the basics.

Breastfeeding with Comfort & Joy, by Laura Keegan, is a feast for the eyes and soul.  If you learn by seeing (and most mammals do) you will love all the tender, glorious photos of babies and mamas breastfeeding.   Laura has a gift for helping moms get a great latch, and her book can go a long way towards changing our culture.

The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can, Too by Cate Colburn-Smith, 2007.   Geared towards moms returning to work, this book is reassuring and inclusive; it’s wonderfully non-judgmental towards women who combine feed or wean before a year, and covers every angle.

3. Watch another mother nurse. Monkey see, monkey do:  one of the reasons breastfeeding can end up being so darn tricky (and more challenging than it should be) is that so few of us grew up in a culture where breastfeeding is viewed as normal and is visible in every day life.   Would you want to ride a bike if you hadn’t seen your friends or older siblings do it?  Probably not!  Same with breastfeeding.   Ask to hang out with a friend who is successfully nursing, go to a La Leche League meeting, or if all else fails, watch some videos.  Dr. Jack Newman has a great collection, and you can while away hours on youtube.com by searching “breastfeeding latch.”  This one by Ameda is excellent!

Can’t find a good class or hate to read?  Watch a DVD! Simply Breastfeeding by Shari Criso, 2010 is engaging and encouraging.  Shari has a knack with women who are on the fence about breastfeeding, and many of her clients bring the DVD to the hospital on a laptop to refresh their memory.

Everyone has their favorite classes, books, videos and resources, but in a sea of information, this list is intended to be short to get you started.   Happy learning!