Signs You Have a Good Breastfeeding Class

Pregnant Couple touring hospital
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Taking a breastfeeding class is a fairly common occurrence these days. Mothers and fathers know that they need help with breastfeeding basics and take a class to prepare themselves for breastfeeding the new baby. The problem is that many breastfeeding classes are available, and not all of them actually teach what you have signed up for.

Here is a look at some of the major categories of knowing if your class will meet your breastfeeding needs.

1. Your Instructor Has the Right Qualifications

Those who teach breastfeeding classes have a variety of backgrounds. While there is not one perfect background to have, there are those who have the perfect mix of the needed qualifications.

The first is typically a breastfeeding background. Is your teacher an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) or a certified lactation counselor (CLC)? These ensure that she has a minimum amount of knowledge and hands-on support for breastfeeding women.

Has she ever breastfed a baby? While not always a must, it is very helpful. This means that she has been there, done that — not just see it or read about it. And she should, at the very least, have experience helping mothers breastfeed. Book knowledge and practical knowledge are two very different things.

2. The Focus of the Class Is Breastfeeding

Sometimes you'll find that hospitals offer classes that are mixed in with other classes. It's often hard enough to cover breastfeeding in the short amount of time given, let alone other issues like baby care. The more things that they try to cover, the less time you have to cover important, but often overlooked breastfeeding topics, like going back to work.

The same statement applies to breastfeeding classes that try to sell you things. This could be services or breastfeeding equipment. Offering them for sale is one thing, pushing them or making it seem like you have to have it to breastfeed is another.

3. You Cover the Basics of Breastfeeding

Classes can have different topics that they cover and different ways that they cover the topics that they do teach. Your breastfeeding class should cover, at a minimum:

  • How breastfeeding works
  • How to establish a good milk supply
  • How to get your baby to latch
  • How to know if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Positions for breastfeeding
  • When and where to get help should you need it

There are also other topics that are nice to include as well like how to choose a breast pump, returning to work and maintaining your milk supply, weaning, etc.

4. You See Breastfeeding in Action 

This can be having a student from a previous class come back to talk about her breastfeeding experience and nursing in class or even a really good video. If you have trouble with this portion of the class, you can also go to attend meetings like La Leche.

5. You Leave Knowing Where to Get Help If You Need It

Hopefully learning the basics, having a positive attitude and being with others will be enough to get breastfeeding off to a good start for you. But if it doesn't happen and you do need help, you should know when and where to get help.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.