Expert Breastfeeding Secrets

By Alexa Joy Sherman

For Mindy Johnson-Plate, 39-year-old new parent to Cooper, 3, and Gavin, 3 months, breastfeeding was everything she’d hoped it would be—and more. “It was easier than expected as well as a great bonding time,” Johnson- Plate says. “Cooper grew into a chunky monkey solely on my breast milk. It made me feel like superwoman.”

Ultimately, Johnson-Plate nursed Cooper for two years—and hopes to do the same with Gavin. It makes sense that the number of new parents who choose to breastfeed their babies has been climbing steadily since 1999, reaching 74 percent in 2004 (the most recent year of statistics available).

After all, studies show that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of infant illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections, as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—and even serious diseases like leukemia later in life. Meanwhile, breastfeeding moms tend to peel off the pregnancy pounds more quickly and have lower risks for breast and ovarian cancers, obesity and osteoporosis than those new parents who don’t nurse.

But with all of this compelling data—not to mention the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendation that new parents breastfeed for at least a year—only 21 percent stuck with it for 12 months in 2004. Why? Not everyone has the simple, satisfying time that Johnson-Plate did — at least, not at first.

That’s why we asked lactation experts and dozens of new moms who made it past the six-month breastfeeding mark (some even past a year) to share their secrets to breastfeeding success. They might just help ensure you’re among the new parents who keep going…and going….

Next: Be patient