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How to Find a Breastfeeding Class

Posted: Breastfeeding » Pregnancy & Birth | June 1st, 2005



By Denise Altman

About midway through your second trimester, your caregiver will suggest that you register for prenatal classes. Many moms assume that they need childbirth preparation only and that they will learn everything else in the hospital, from books, or “on the job.” This is ironic, because while the labor and birth process is usually over in 24 hours or less, feeding and caring for your baby will take years. Find out what the content is of classes available in your community, rather than choosing the first class that is offered to you.

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Don’t forget about breastfeeding
Breastfeeding in particular can be a learning process for both you and your baby. Most Americans have not grown up exposed to infant breastfeeding as a cultural norm, so we have lost a lot of the common knowledge.

When seeking out a breastfeeding class, you will want to evaluate the content. First, find out your options. Most hospitals and birth centers provide a wide range of prenatal classes, but so do private practice lactation consultants, doctor’s offices and independent educators. To find classes, check out the yellow pages, local parenting publications, individual web sites or talk to your caregiver.

Check out the content
Make a list with contact information and other details such as cost, dates offered and so on before calling. Then when you do call, before registering, ask lots of questions about class content. Some examples are:

• How long is the class? Is there time allowed for questions, even if the class goes over?

• Will the class cover procedures and routines common to the place where I will be delivering?

• How much time is spent on latch, positioning and signs of adequate intake? (This should include at least half of the class time.)

• Will I be given resource information for help both in and out of the hospital?

• What kind of information is offered about milk expression? (It should not be a sales job, but rather a range of options from hand expression, to manual pumps, to electric pumps.)

• What do I do if I have problems or complications?

Often, especially with a large organization, the individuals who handle inquiries or registration are administrative people and do not have a lot of information about the class content. If this occurs, simply ask to speak to one of the instructors or the program coordinator.

Check out the instructors
It’s a good idea to ask about the qualifications and experience of the instructor. A board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) is considered to be the gold standard in the field; however, an educator who has been teaching this class for several years may be just as qualified. You will want to look for some who works with breastfeeding mothers on a regular basis and has a wide range of experience. They should also be approachable and open to questions and discussion.

Mothers who are well educated before delivery are less likely to experience breastfeeding complications. Education can save you money in terms of product information and resources. A good prenatal breastfeeding class increases your confidence, helps you prepare for potential problems and reinforces or clarifies what you are reading. Whether this is your first baby or your third, seek out a quality class and instructor for a positive breastfeeding experience.

Suggested Reading
La Leche League International. “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” Penguin Group. 2004. Seventh Edition. Buy on Amazon.com or Powells.com.

Spangler, Amy. “Amy Spangler’s Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide”. Amy Spangler. 1999. Seventh Edition. Buy on Amazon.com or Powells.com.

© Denise Altman

Denise Altman RN, IBCLC, LCCE is a private practice lactation consultant and nurse educator in Columbia, SC. The name of her business, All The Best reflects the skills, service and products she strives to offer expectant and new families. She is also the mother to twin girls and a son; they are her most joyful expereince to date. Denise can be found at www.feedyourbaby.com.

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