Years of research show breastfeeding as the best option for the health of baby, mom and the family. The key to successful breastfeeding is often perseverance. Some Mother-Baby pairs will have an easy time, other may struggle. The time to seek out information and support is during your pregnancy.
I've been lucky to have three long-term (I won't say how long...since that may put you off a bit) breastfeeding experiences. Since I've been in the breastfeeding mode for so many years, I tend to forget that not everyone knows why they should breastfeed their baby. I've learned that the question shouldn't be Are you going to breastfeed?", but "What do you know about breastfeeding?".
There are so many benefits to Mother and baby. The benefits that I find most compelling are as follows: Breastfeeding will save you a lot of $$ (go look at the price of the formula that they keep behind lock and key at the grocery stores); its so convenient since the food always with you, at the perfect temperature and you never run out; and the bowel movements and spit up don't smell too bad (versus formula-fed babies).
As with a lot of things, in 20-20 hindsight I was very lucky. I attended La Leche League meetings in Fort Walton Beach Florida when I was pregnant with my first child, my midwife recommended that I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and I had a supportive husband. Once we moved to Raleigh, I attended more LLL meetings and later found out about another volunteer-led support group called Nursing Mothers of Raleigh. First I just attended their meetings for support and to meet other Mothers, then later I became a Counseling Mother.
You may have some preconceived notions about the kind of Mothers that would attend a Nursing Mothers of Raleigh or La Leche League meeting. Nursing Mothers of Raleigh meetings are very casual. They don't charge any dues. You'll be just as welcome if you show up a few minutes late or if you have a fussy baby that causes you to duck out early. They have toys for any older siblings, snacks and drinks and a lending library. They have both daytime and evening meetings. Their series of four talks rotates, but there is always someone available to give you a separate "Getting Started" talk and answer any and all questions.
O.K. I can tell you're wondering what good is it to come to one of these meetings while you're still pregnant. First, you'll put some faces with the names on the back of the NMR brochure that you can call with questions after your baby arrives, Second, you'll get to watch babies of a variety of ages nurse, and last but not least, everyone there will empathize with all of your pregnancy complaints and the uncertainty you may feel about your impending parenthood.
NMR provides evidence-based information about breastfeeding. We are ready to help you meet your nursing goals...whatever they may be. The American Academy of Pediatrics has revised their statement on breastfeeding to recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Whatever your situation (i.e. pumping, returning to work, weaning, plugged ducts, engorgement, biting, distractible baby, thrush, etc) there is probably someone at the meeting that has personally lived through it...and if not we will work to find you an answer a.s.a.p.
I always learned something new at every meeting I attended. The attendees are always changing...you'll get the chance to meet new Mothers and be their "light at the end of the tunnel" when they see how easily you nurse your 3 month old baby as they hold their 2 week old in their arms.
The Nursing Mothers of Raleigh website has a downloadable educational brochure, map to their meeting location, meeting topic schedule, information on breast pump rentals and sales and lots of other information. Locally in the Charlotte area there are also a number of La Leche League groups. You can usually pick up one of their brochures which contain contact and meeting information at local libraries.