"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-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.
"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.
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.
To learn more about breast-feeding, visit La Leche League International.
SOURCES: Karen Bonuck, Ph.D., associate professor of family and social medicine, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Katy Lebbing, La Leche League leader and international board certified lactation consultant, Villa Park, Ill.