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TODAY

Thursday, April 18

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Moments after my son was born, he was placed on my belly where instinctually, he began his fierce little sucking motions, wanting to nurse -- to find a place of comfort and safety, just for him. While I never had any doubts that I would breastfeed him, many times I was unsure if I was strong enough to continue. Was I doing it right? Did he have enough to eat? Was I making enough milk? And the pain, holy smokes, the pain during the first few weeks was like having your boobs dragged across asphalt. Was this normal?

For many mothers that breastfeed, something that should seem as straightforward as feeding your baby can be something full of questions and fear of treading uncharted waters. Luckily, thanks to a wonderful resurgence in breastfeeding, there are great support systems out there for you.

Books can give you good supplemental information and there are many books out there with an approach to suit everyone. Breast pumps are a great source of relief and help for mothers who are planning to return to work, and organizations such as La Leche League and the Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce give mothers a meeting place to share thoughts and ideas with other breastfeeding mothers. Finally, lactation consultants can pick up where group meetings leave off, giving nursing mothers one-on-one attention. So whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert, there is the right kind of help and information out there.

Breast Pumps:
When purchasing a pump, one of the most important things to consider is whether you will be pumping occasionally or every day. For mothers who plan on returning to work, an everyday pump is needed. The motors in daily use pumps are meant to pump for longer periods of time than occasional-use pumps. Many of them are designed with working mothers in mind; they are made to look like stylish bags and include cooling compartments for milk.

There are many brands of long-term pumps, so if you are unsure which one to buy, you might want to consider renting first. When renting a pump, you can try a specific model out, and if you don't like it you 're not stuck with it and can try another make and model. Many hospitals, pharmacies, breast pump manufacturers and lactation consultants offer rental services -- many will even deliver the pumps to your home.

If you will only be pumping every now and then, a good manual model or battery-operated pump should suffice. But remember, these pumps were not meant to be used for everyday pumping; their motors -- or your arm -- would not last.

La Leche League:
Formed in Illinois in 1956, La Leche League was founded by seven women who wanted to create a more positive breastfeeding experience by having a place where they could share ideas and concerns. By implementing peer support, education and information they were able to create the supportive environment they sought.

Hosting monthly meetings, mothers can sit and talk with lactation consultants and other mothers about their breastfeeding experiences. The meetings offer positive encouragement and provide answers for mothers with breastfeeding questions and difficulties. Infants are always welcome to all meetings.

Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce
The Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce is a Chicago group that gives its members a directory of breastfeeding resources and service providers in the Chicagoland area. They also have peer counselors and continuing education for mothers.

The Taskforce holds meetings and presentations throughout the year, and they also work with different agencies and legislators to work in favor of breastfeeders in Illinois.

Reading Material:
There are a ton of books on the market about breastfeeding, but whenever anyone asks for my recommendation, I usually point them towards The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International, and The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning by Martha Sears, RN.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a La Leche League classic that is chock full of anecdotes from mothers, information on how milk is made, herb supplements and more. It also addresses something that many breastfeeding books leave out -- the father's role in breastfeeding.

The Breastfeeding Book gives clear, accurate information in an easy-to-read, entertaining manner. Chapters in this book, by the wife of renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears, includes tips for proper latch-on, various positions to hold your baby while feeding, breast milk versus formula, natural ways to increase your milk supply and proper nutrition for yourself while breastfeeding.

Lacation Consultants:
There are times when more individualized help is needed. Special circumstances, including sore breasts, problems with proper latch-on, engorgement, breastfeeding a premature infant or multiple children, relactation, mastitis or weaning may require the assistance of a lactation consultant. The consultant works with parents to help them reach their breastfeeding goals. They often work with your health care professional as well.

While breastfeeding is a natural process, it is also a learned art that may take time to master. When I first began breastfeeding my son, I felt fortunate that I had people and places to turn to for help and answers. Asking for help does not mean you are clueless, it just means you want to do things correctly and want what is best for your baby. Rest assured, the answers you need are there for you.

Breast Pump Rental and Retail Locations
The Art of Breastfeeding
2648 N. Menard Ave.
773/745-0992

Braun Drug
2075 N. Lincoln Ave.
773/549-0634

Feeding Philosophies
928 N. Wood, Unit D
773/525-0292

Northwestern Children's Practice
680 N. Lake Shore Dr.
312/642-5515

Parkway Drugs
2342 N. Clark St.
773/549-2720

Sinai Community Pharmacy
California Avenue & 15th
773/257-6900

University of Chicago Hospital
5815 S. Maryland Avenue
773/702-5522

La Leche League Meetings
South Side:
First Friday of each month at 10am
First Tuesday of each month at 7pm
Hyde Park Union Church 56th and Woodlawn 773/538-6128

Lincoln Park:
Third Tuesday of each month at 7pm
St. Luke School
1500 W. Belmont
773/725-8891
773/561-2229
773/935-4756
Cyndi 773/745-6551
Rachel 773/278-4568

Northwest:
Third Tuesday of each month at 10am
North Park Church
5250 N. Christiana (enter at the blue doors)
Leigh 773/205-6059
773/481-0225
Rosemary 773/736-4844
Sheila 847/593-7367

Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce Meetings
Second Friday of each month from 9:30am to 12:30pm
Depaul Center, 2nd Floor Boardroom
333 S. State St.

Breastfeeding Classes
University of Chicago Hospitals
773/702-3925
Mondays, 5-7pm:
- January 31
- April 25
- May 16
- July 18
- September 26
- November 21
5815 S. Maryland Ave, Room TN-208

Tuesdays, 1-3pm:
- February 15
- June 14
- August 9
- October 11
- December 13
Center for Advanced Medicine
5758 S. Maryland Ave., Third floor, Room 3737 (Enter through 3G or 3H)

Breastfeeding for Multiples
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center
333 E. Superior St.
Call 312/926-8400 for dates and times and registration

Breastfeeding Basics Workshop
Bloom Yoga Studio
4663 N. Rockwell
Chicago, IL 60625
773/463-YOGA
Workshops are held quarterly.

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About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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