You're at the end of your pregnancy and looking forward to holding your first baby in your arms. After reading all the books on breastfeeding, you believe you are as ready as you can be. But are you? Here are 10 breastfeeding I learned from experience, not from books. 1. Packing for the hospital Make sure you put your nursing bras and washcloths into your suitcase. Don't forget your breast pump. Learn how to use it ahead of time. 2. Before your milk comes in If you start breastfeeding before your milk comes in, your baby may not be happy. All the baby is getting is colostrum, the first milk, and because there isn't much your baby can get frustrated trying to nurse. Don't force your baby. Don't worry, when your milk comes in, your baby will drink happily. 3. When your milk comes in Your breasts will become very full and hard. If your baby is available, start breastfeeding. Before you put your baby to one breast, put a washcloth in the other. Whenever you breast feed or pump one breast, milk will flow in the other one. At night, wear a nursing bra to bed with a folded washcloth on each side. If you leak, you will not wake up in a pool of milk. You will save money by not using disposable breast pads all the time. Save those for when you go out in public. If your baby is done feeding and your breasts are still hard or uncomfortable, use your breast pump or pump using your hands. To pump by hand, follow these instructions: With the hand opposite the breast you are going to pump, gently push in from the outside in. Repeat as you go around your entire breast. Do the same on the other breast. If this seems impossible, try pumping in the shower with warm water falling on your breasts. 4. Breastfeeding position Pick a comfortable chair with arms. Experiment with what position works best for you. Avoid breastfeeding lying down, especially at night. You wouldn't want to fall asleep and roll on top of your baby. 5. Let down Make sure you are as relaxed as possible. When your milk starts to flow, you will feel what is called the let down reflex. It is hard to describe, but it is exactly what the name implies. It is a feeling that your milk is releasing. 6. Start with the last first Start with the breast you ended with last time. Let your baby suck for five to ten minutes. Then change to the other breast. If your baby falls asleep between breasts, wake him by changing his diaper. Then breast feed on the other side for no more than 10 minutes. 7. Keep records Taking care of a newborn can be overwhelming. Write down what time you start breastfeeding and what breast you ended with. Don't feed your baby more than every two hours from when you started the last feeding. If your baby is fussy, it may be gas. Try lying him down and burping him again. 8. Drink fluids You are advised to drink fluids. Don't overdo it. Unless you have twins, you only need enough milk for one baby. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. As your milk supply becomes established, you will have enough milk for your baby without your breasts becoming engorged. 9. Preparing to go back to work If you are planning to go back to work, introduce formula in a bottle when your baby is about a month old. You could wait until six weeks, but if you wait too long, it will be more difficult for you and your baby. When it is time for a feeding, give your husband the bottle with the warm formula and then leave. Stay away for at least two hours. Your baby will not like it, but he will drink when he is hungry enough. There are several reasons you need to leave the house. If you stay, your breasts might start leaking if you hear your baby cry. It will be too hard not to interfere. If you don't let your husband learn to feed the baby, he will feel left out, and you will be so tied to your baby, you will never have any time for yourself. So force yourself for you, your baby and your husband's sake. 10. Going back to work A federal law requires employers to provide time and a private, non-bathroom place for you to breastfeed for one year after your baby is born. Save your milk, if you can, to give your baby when you are unavailable. Be careful on the weekends to follow your normal schedule and not go back to your pre-work schedule. If you don't do this, you will regret your decision on Monday. Your breasts will be too full. Most importantly, enjoy breastfeeding your baby. If you run into a snag, don't give up. Talk to other breastfeeding moms or consult a lactation consultant.