After a rough start, Katy Ray established a successful nursing relationship with Sarah, sixteen months, who is still happily nursing away. She offered these tips to first-time breastfeeders in the Preparing to Breastfeed folder:

Make a commitment

The instinct to nurse is there when the baby is born, but not every baby and Mom are very good at it right away! It is a learning process. Abby and I went through two weeks of hell before we got it down, but I didn’t give up because I knew this was the best for her. So you’ve got to stick with it even when it seems like it is too hard to keep going.

Trust yourself

This is going to be a vulnerable time for you. You’ll be sleep-deprived, physically exhausted, and hormonally unbalanced. Lots of people will try to tell you lots of things. They’ll be well-meaning people like doctors and family, but you are the Mom. You get to make all the decisions, and even though you don’t feel capable of making the decisions, just do what feels right and tell everyone else to stuff it.

Accept that you will have a permanent fashion accessory for awhile

People will try to tell you to give the baby formula so she’ll sleep, but they don’t understand that isn’t normal. Breastfed babies need to eat more often. Nature intended the system to work that way. When baby nurses more often, your body will adjust to the increase in milk demand. If you give formula, your body will make less milk. It’s an amazing, yet amazingly simple system!

Lansinoh

A must have! It’s medical grade lanolin for sore, cracked, or bleeding nipples, which are a result of a poor latch. Learn the latch and then get some Lansinoh.

The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins

Drink lots and lots of water and don’t skip eating

Your milk supply is not dependent on you drinking water, but your health is. Your body is nourishing a child, so you need to keep yourself healthy and hydrated. Caffeine, unfortunately, doesn’t count and you will have to drink extra water for each caffeinated beverage that you drink.

Education and Support

You are not alone. There are so many resources out there to help you with any problems you may encounter. There are lactation consultants, La Leche League, and many sites online that can answer your questions and give you encouragement. Educate yourself about breastfeeding and line up several sources of support before you even deliver.