Everyone agrees breast is best. Breastfeeding is promoted worldwide by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Here in the United States one of the health objectives for the year 2000 is to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding. Yet surveys of new mothers indicate that many mothers who start out breastfeeding give up after a few days or weeks.
One reason for this may be that knowledge about the “how-to’s” of breast¬feeding is still generally lacking. A mother might believe with all her heart that her milk is best for her baby, but sore nipples make nursing unbearably painful for her. Or early introduction of artificial nipples confuses her baby, causing him to refuse her breast. Who can help such a mother? Will she find the help she needs to continue breastfeeding from her health care professionals, her friends, her family? Will her self-esteem be damaged if she considers herself a failure at breastfeeding? And if she doesn’t get the help she needs, will she try breastfeeding again when her next baby is born?
This website is designed to help answer a mother’s breastfeeding questions and for that reason information is sometimes repeated when it applies to different situations. Since most LLL Leaders—and many other effective breastfeeding counselors—come from a lay background, this book is written in non-medical language. This will also make it easier to convey the information to mothers.
Although we are aware that babies come in two genders, in this website, we refer to baby as “he,” not with sexist intent, but simply for clarity’s sake, since mother is unquestionably “she.”
Breastfeeding is truly an art and not a science. Answers to questions are rarely simple and straightforward. When a mother asks a La Leche League Leader or other breastfeeding counselor a general question about breastfeeding, more often than not, her response will be, “it depends.” To be truly helpful to each nursing couple, individual differences and variations must be acknowledged and respected.
This website explores in depth all types of possible breastfeeding questions—from mildly disturbing to potentially serious and severe—along with a wide variety of possible solutions and approaches. By offering a more complete picture in an easy-to-use format, this book enables the breastfeeding counselor to tailor her suggestions to the individual mother and baby in a wide variety of circumstances. Presenting a broad spectrum of approaches to the breastfeeding counselor can increase the chances that she and the mother will be able to find the most effective way to resolve most problems.
Also important is an appreciation for the many complex issues and feelings that are interwoven with questions about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is more than just a method of feeding; it is also a way of caring for and comforting a baby. For many mothers, breastfeeding becomes an integral part of their relationship with their baby. So when questions about breastfeeding arise, it is not unusual for them to also involve the mother’s feelings about her baby and her feelings about being a mother. A website approach to solving breastfeeding problems—where the same suggestions are routinely given to all mothers—will not do justice to most mothers and babies. What makes giving breastfeeding help so fascinating and challenging is the creativity it requires to find just the right variation that will work in each unique situation.
We hope this website will make this challenge easier for you. It has been sometimes overwhelming—but also a pleasure—to gather in one place breastfeeding information from so many sources: LLLI publications, other respected books on breastfeeding, research studies, LLL International Conference sessions, and personal experiences. We hope that having this information in one volume will make it easier for you to find just the right bit of information that will make breastfeeding as fun and enjoyable for mothers and babies as it was meant to be.