Each mother and baby is different, and a range of factors come into play in every unique situation. However, preparation, knowledge and a great attitude can make the process easier.

Although it's true that nothing can truly prepare you for your own experience of being a new mother, there are several things that many women wish they had known beforehand.

There are many companies available which provide lactation consultant services. Try to embrace the process and make it all about you, your baby and your family. Don't let others' preconceived notions or negative experiences influence your breastfeeding.

If you have supportive friends and family members, take comfort in their advice. But if you find yourself uncomfortable discussing your choice with certain people, try to avoid the subject and focus on the positive.

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Breastfeeding is natural and doesn't take any special equipment, but you'll need a nursing pillow, comfortable breastfeeding bras and a great nipple ointment handy. Yes, it's true; breastfeeding can hurt during the first few weeks.

Nipples become a little raw as they get used to a suckling infant, but nipple ointment will keep your skin from becoming cracked or overly painful. In just a short time your nipples will be 100% accustomed to nursing and will look normal.

Find out about breastfeeding support options in your community in advance. Consult your Ob-gyn for resources, and consider choosing a pediatrician who supports breastfeeding and works closely with a lactation consultant.

Lactation consultants are experts in breastfeeding, and a visit with one can be a lifesaver during the early days. You can also see if there are any local breastfeeding support groups for you to join.