Author(s): Bedinghaus JM, Melnikow J
Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for the newborn infant. More than half of mothers intend to breast-feed, yet many are unsuccessful at sustaining breast feeding beyond the first few weeks postpartum. Preparation for breast feeding should begin during prenatal care. Breast feeding early and often in the postpartum period promotes establishment of the milk supply. Attention to proper positioning is essential to successful nursing. The family physician can be especially helpful in the early postpartum weeks, when many mothers become discouraged and discontinue breast feeding. Formula supplements should be avoided in the early postpartum period. Most problems, such as sore nipples, engorgement and pain with latch-on, subside after several weeks; symptomatic relief and emotional support from the family physician during this period are crucial.