Breastfeeding is a rewarding yet, at times, challenging practice. You will need the support of your partner, friends, family, co-workers and especially your health care provider. Most health care providers are aware of the vast benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, but some are more knowledgeable about breastfeeding than others. When looking for a provider for you or your baby, or when talking with your current provider, be a little wary if he or she:
- Believes breastfeeding and formula-feeding are equally beneficial to your baby
- Encourages formula-feeding immediately after the delivery of your baby so you can rest
- Recommends that you stop breastfeeding and start formula-feeding at the first sign of difficulty or illness, either yours or the baby's
- Recommends supplementation with formula
- Gives you samples of formula and marketing materials from formula manufacturers
- Distributes out-of-date informational materials about breastfeeding
- Fails to provide you with names of lactation specialists or names of other breastfeeding moms when you are having problems
- Expresses surprise that you are still breastfeeding your 6 month old
- Believes that there is no nutritional value to breast milk after six months
- Believes there is no such thing as nipple confusion and you should start a bottle as soon as possible to get your baby used to a rubber nipple
If you don't feel comfortable with the suggestions or instructions given by your health care provider, discuss them with him or her. Perhaps if your health-care provider understands just how important breastfeeding is to you, he or she will be more supportive.
Sometimes people have a a good relationship with a health care provider who isn't able to be as supportive of breastfeeding as they would like, and don't want to change. If that's the case, ask your provider to help you find a lactation consultant, or visit the website of the worldwide lactation support organization La Leche League at www.llli.org. There you may find answers to your questions — and you can look for lactation counselors and support groups in your area.