A. Absolutely. Nursing previous children is not a requirement to breastfeeding this baby. While prior experience can be helpful, it certainly isn't necessary. Your breasts will produce milk with this pregnancy and baby, as it will with every pregnancy and baby, even if you took medications before to dry up your milk. Education and preparation are helpful, though not required. I do find that moms who have had a breastfeeding class or read a book or two do seem to have a head start in nursing their children. Many hospitals and birth centers offer free classes and have staff lactation consultants. Be sure to ask for a visit before you leave the hospital or birth center, even if you think everything is going well. There are also private lactation consultants and La Leche League International, a non-profit support group teaching and supporting women to breastfeed around the world.
Q. How will I know how much breast milk my child is getting?
A. Breast fed babies have signs that they are growing and getting enough breast milk. These include counting diapers to ensure that they are wetting between 6-8 diapers a day and counting stools, which will vary depending on your child's age and whether or not they are eating solids. Your pediatrician will also ask you about your child's development milestones and weight pattern. New breastfeeding weight charts are out, so be sure that your child is being listed on these at your well child visits.
More: Is my baby getting enough milk?
Q. Can I breastfeed if I have small breasts? Large breasts?
A. Breast size is not a factor in how much milk is produced. Small-breasted women are able to nurse without any problems. A recent study did show that large breasted women had a more difficult time getting the baby to latch on the nipple, but this is an easy to correct situation, particularly with a bit of professional guidance.
Q. Can I nurse if I have implants? Breast reduction?
A. This will depend on if any of the milk ducts were disturbed when placing implants or doing a reduction. Newer surgery techniques work hard at trying to preserve the breast tissue to make breastfeeding possible. Ask for a copy of your surgical report and try to ask your surgeon if you didn't ask at the time of your surgery. Seeing a lactation consultant prior to birth can also be very helpful.
More: More Breastfeeding Myths