Here are some experts' best tips on succeeding with breast-feeding -- even if you're a beginner:
Don't assume breast-feeding is "innate."
"Breast-feeding is not instinctive," said Katy Lebbing, a board certified lactation consultant in Villa Park, Ill., and a leader for La Leche League International, which promotes breast-feeding. "That's a myth. It's kind of like thinking all men can fix all cars."
Mothers who choose to breast-feed need education and support, agreed Karen Bonuck, associate professor of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who has published studies on breast-feeding practices.
Get help -- early.
Ask your health-care provider for information about breast-feeding early in your pregnancy, Bonuck advised women. Don't wait until you're six months or more along, she said. Too many other activities -- baby showers, getting the nursery ready, thinking about names -- take your attention during those final months of pregnancy.
Take a breast-feeding class.
Ask your doctor if your hospital has one. Or see a lactation consultant -- you can ask your doctor or the La Leche League for a referral. You should make these preparations before you'll be ready to breast-feed, Lebbing and Bonuck advised.
Just a few sessions with a lactation consultant can pay off, Bonuck said. "You will understand the normal physiology of how the milk is produced," she said. The consultant, working with a doll, can help women practice the best positions to breast-feed and get comfortable with the concept.
Be sure the hospital personnel know you want to breast-feed.
"Make your wishes known," Bonuck said. "Some [hospitals] have cards that say, 'Breast-feed only.' " That reduces the risk of confusion and your baby mistakenly getting a bottle of formula, Bonuck said. She also advises mothers-to-be to tell the hospital staff about other preferences, such as no pacifiers.
Breast-feed as soon as your baby is born.
Breast-feeding immediately after birth -- even before the baby is cleaned up -- is preferable, Bonuck said. "Bring an advocate with you," she suggested. This person will help to make sure your wishes are carried out.
Keep the baby with you as much as possible while in the hospital.
"Make your wishes known," Bonuck advised. She prefers keeping the baby in the mother's room, not in the nursery, because it gives mother and baby a chance to practice breast-feeding. "It's not a spa," she said of the hospital stay.
Get help once you return home.
Enlist the support of family members or friends once you are back home, Lebbing advised. "You need someone to cook and help around the house, especially in the first month," she said. If you have other children, get some child-care help. Relieving some of the stress of a newborn can help new moms focus on the important task of breast-feeding, Bonuck and Lebbing said.
Health Tips: Household Cleaning Safety
The household cleaning products you use are safe when used and stored according to the directions on the label. Just be sure to read and follow the label directions carefully, and if you have any questions, call the toll-free number found on most product labels. Here are some simple precautions to help prevent accidents from occurring:
Read and follow label directions for proper use, storage and disposal.
Store cleaning products in an area which is away from food and not accessible to young children or pets.
Store products in their original containers and keep the original label intact. Product use and storage, disposal instructions, precautions and first aid instructions vary according to their ingredients. It can be dangerous to use a product incorrectly or to follow the wrong emergency procedures.
Put cleaning products away immediately after removing the amount needed for the job. This will limit accessibility to young children and help prevent accidental spills.
Keep buckets containing cleaning solutions out of the reach of young children.
Properly close all containers, especially those with child-resistant caps.
Mix cleaning products. Products which are safe when used alone can sometimes cause dangerous fumes if mixed with other products.
Reuse an empty household cleaning product container for any other purpose. The label instructions and precautions for the original product may be inaccurate or dangerous if used for a different product.