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Basic Information for the Expectant Mother

Anne Meis
Elgin, Nebraska, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 3, June-July 2001, p. 56

As Leaders, we tend to surround ourselves with breastfeeding knowledge, and we may need to sort and filter this knowledge and determine basic information to share with the expectant first-time mother so as not to overwhelm her with information. I am a regular guest speaker at our local rural hospital-sponsored birth education classes. In addition, our La Leche League meetings have been well attended by women who are pregnant. Therefore, I have been pondering the question: What knowledge does a woman need before the baby arrives in order to successfully breastfeed?

When speaking at the birth classes, I am allotted about 20-25 minutes, so I must carefully exannne the information I convey so that it is basic and essential. Also, many women only attend one LLL meeting before giving birth and we as Leaders need to give basic breastfeeding information without overwhehning and confusing an expectant mother.

Now there is no way to know what lies ahead for each breastfeeding mother, but here are some key messages that I have identified:

Breastfeeding is healthier for the baby and mother. Some people are still not informed about this. Expectant mothers need constant reminders of the many health benefits of breastfeeding. I think once a woman is empowered with this information, her determination level will be greater. Determination is crucial to breastfeeding.

Baby needs to breastreed early and often to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Bottles or pacifiers should be avoided in the early weeks. Baby should breastfeed as soon as possible after birth and should breastfeed 8-12 times in a 24 hour time period. Continue unrestricted nursing to meet the baby's needs.

Good positioning and latch-on are important to prevent sore nipples and promote proper sucking. Explain to the new or expectant mother what good positioning looks like. Baby's whole body faces mother. Mother brings baby to her breast and supports the baby and supports the breast. Is the baby's mouth open wide? Explain what good latch-on looks like.

Mother should surround herself with people who are supportive and knowledgeable about breastfeeding. When husband and other family members support the mother, she can focus on learning her cues and rhythms and becoming adept at breastfeeding. Encourage the mother to find a health care provider who is supportive of breastfeeding. And, of course, now is the time to talk about the many benefits of La Leche League and attending meetmgs. Encourage the mother to read THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and other breastfeeding books and material.

Encourage the mother to call La Leche League if she has any questions or difficulties. Present yourself as approachable, knowledgeable, and friendly. Ask for questions during or after your talk. Answer questions concisely and in a positive light.

Even as I write this, there is so much more information I'd like to give, but this knowledge will help ensure a good start and identify you (the LLL Leader) as a contact person. Even if you do not receive feedback, know that you have done your part in helping at least one more baby receive the very best: breastfeeding.

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