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Nursing Facts by the Numbers

Lee Clower
Booby Traps
“There are lots of ‘booby traps' that prevent women from breastfeeding,’ says Nancy Mohrbacher, a certified lactation consultant and author of Breastfeeding Made Simple. While some women don't want to nurse and a small percentage aren't able to, many women throw in the burp towel simply because they lack support. Here, we break down the most common breastfeeding pitfalls — and ways to overcome them:
1.) Lack of Info:
Women aren't getting the message that breast is best. A 2007 study by North Carolina researchers of women receiving assistance from Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the federal program supporting low-income mothers, found that just 36 percent of moms in this group even knew that breastfeeding helps protect against infant diarrhea. Not surprisingly, babies who are born into the WIC program — roughly half of all U.S. infants — are less likely to be breastfed. The fact that not all hospitals have lactation consultants available for daily rounds certainly isn't helping bridge the information gap. “Research shows that when you don't start breast-feeding in the hospital, you aren't likely to start later,” says Perrine.
What You Can Do:
Learn breastfeeding basics before the hungry babe arrives. Websites like Kelly Mom contain great tips, including positions to try when starting out. Many WIC branches have lactation consultants who pay complimentary visits to new moms in the hospital — call yours to see if you're eligible. When shopping hospitals, call around to see which ones have lactation consultants visiting with new moms daily.
2.) It's Hard Work:
Some women try to breastfeed and really, truly can't — this includes the 5 percent of moms who have a low milk supply, often due to glandular problems (prior breast surgery could be a factor). “For these mothers, we focus on celebrating and protecting a healthy baby because that's what counts,” says Dr. Johnston. But plenty of moms mistakenly think they can't make enough milk — when in fact their baby just needs help latching more effectively or is going through a growth spurt. Still more women quit because breastfeeding can, well, suck at times. “Some babies are born with latching problems or special needs,” says Dr. Johnston. “If they don't nurse well, it can be a vicious cycle: They take less milk, you make less milk. Nipples get sore. Babies get fussy. Sometimes it seems easier just to go ahead and wean.”

What You Can Do:
Some WIC-affiliated lactation consultants make free house calls for latching problems or pain. If you can, spring for a session with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant — they can charge between $20 and $200 per session, but some insurance plans cover the cost. Find one at — and put her on speed dial.