What is often the most blessed time in your life can also be one of the most stressful for a newborn baby and a mother if choosing to breastfeed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports infants in the Southeast are less likely to be breastfed at 6 months than infants living in other areas of the country. The CDC also reports 60% of mothers don’t breastfeed as long as they intend to due to factors such as lactation, latching, nutrition, weight and medicine concerns as well as an unsupportive help network.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that can help make breastfeeding a little easier. …

When to start breastfeeding your baby

After your baby is born, try skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding as soon as possible.

Are pacifiers OK?

Your baby should feed 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. A pacifier is OK once breastfeeding has been established.

Watch for feeding cues

Try to feed your baby when early feeding cues are shown. When your baby is rooting, searching for food, or moving. You do not want to wait for crying. That is the last and final sign that your baby is hungry.

Don’t forget the areola

When latching your baby, you want to put the areola (the dark area around the nipple) inside your baby's mouth along with the nipple. Your baby's tongue movement on the areola is said to create a stimuli to hasten up the flow of the milk. You do not want only the nipple when infant is feeding. (Ouch!) This can cause your nipples to be sore, and they may eventually bleed.

Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids

Each time you breastfeed, try to have a bottle of water or another healthy hydrating drink. Studies show being hydrated helps increase your milk flow.

Have some “ME” time

Try to see if friends or family can help you get a little time for you.

It is OK to share but not compare

Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different. Every baby feeds differently. So, your experience may be different from others. Just know you got this.

Google is not always your friend

If you experience any problems or have any breastfeeding questions, consult a lactation specialist or physician, that is what we are here for.

Pain is something you don’t want

Breastfeeding should not be painful. So please do not ignore the pain you may be experiencing. Consult with your physician or local lactation specialist. Know that rubbing some breast milk on chapped nipples helps heal them.

Don’t forget the ABC’s of safe sleep

If you are tired, make sure you place your baby: Alone, on the baby's back and in the crib. It is OK to room share but not to bed share.

For more information, visit cribsforkids.org/. I hope these tips help you in your breastfeeding journey. If you are having any questions or concerns, please reach out to a lactation specialist in your area.

Lela Gregg is a breastfeeding specialist at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center Women’s Pavilion. The Women’s Pavilion offers free childbirth and breastfeeding preparation classes for expectant parents as a service to the community. For more information or to learn about services, call 843-674-4662.