Your guide to breastfeeding

Aug 1, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ET

World Breastfeeding Week starts August 1, so we’ve rounded up all of our best breastfeeding information for new moms, and those with plenty of experience as well.

Essential info for nursing moms

World Breastfeeding Week starts August 1, so we’ve rounded up all of our best breastfeeding information for new moms, and those with plenty of experience as well.

Breastfeeding mom

Breastfeeding is normal and natural, and World Breastfeeding Week — from August 1 to August 7 — aims to spread awareness and support moms. This year’s theme is "Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers", and highlights breastfeeding peer counselors, who work within a community to offer support to breastfeeding moms. Here, we’ve gathered up info for moms preparing to get started breastfeeding — as well as seasoned pros.

Getting started breastfeeding

After your baby is born, you will likely be able to nurse her right away. Babies are usually pretty alert during the first hour or two after birth, and you can enjoy your first breastfeeding experience together. Once this period of alertness is over, your newborn will sleep quite a bit, but will also wake frequently to feed. Nursing a lot and sleeping a lot is normal — and once your milk comes in, the frequent feedings will help regulate your supply.

Check out these 5 breastfeeding tips for new moms >>

Common breastfeeding struggles

Just because breastfeeding is natural and normal, doesn’t mean it always goes off without a hitch. It can be painful in the early days as your nipples adjust to the surprisingly strong suckle of your newborn. You’ll want to make sure your baby is latching on correctly, with splayed out lips, and not sucking directly on only your nipple (ouch!). If nursing consistently hurts, see a lactation consultant or find a breastfeeding peer counselor for help and advice.

Find out what to do when breastfeeding hurts >>

Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding in public has become a hot topic lately, but fortunately nearly all mothers nurse in public without incident. Practice and confidence can go a long way when it comes to breastfeeding in public successfully — and knowing that you’re protected by law can really bolster your efforts. Whether you choose to use a cover or not, nursing in public will not only help ease your child’s hunger, but it will help those around you become accustomed to the sight of a nursing mom and can really help normalize breastfeeding.

Learn how to make breastfeeding in public easier >>

Extended breastfeeding

Nursing beyond one year is becoming more popular, as moms realize that their 12-month-old babies aren’t ready to wean. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms nurse at least 12 months, and the World Health Organization recommends that moms continue until at least 2 years of age. Both organizations recommend that nursing continue after these ages for as long as mutually desired. You might find that nursing a toddler or even a preschooler is becoming more common. There is no expiration date on breast milk. Breastfeeding continues to have nutritional, mental and emotional value in the second and third year of life — and beyond.

Find out why you should breastfeed your toddler >>

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping

Many moms who breastfeed choose to co-sleep with their infants, and for good reason. When you are co-sleeping, you don’t have to do much more than roll over and adjust your position when your baby wakes to nurse at night. Often, bed-sharing, breastfeeding mothers are so in tune with their infants that their baby has only to begin to stir before mom’s instinct takes over and nursing commences. Once you really get the hang of nursing on your side, you and your baby may find yourselves drifting back off to sleep shortly after latching on with barely a fuss.

Check out some of the most popular benefits of co-sleeping >>

More essential breastfeeding info

Breastfeeding photos: Moms with their babies
The breastfeeding diet for nursing moms
What does full-term breastfeeding really mean?