From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I read books, talked to other moms, and even read up on alternate feeding methods just to be sure I knew what my options were. During my research, I kept coming across the term EBF and was determined to find out what does EBF means.

Used throughout chatrooms and mommy groups, EBF stands for “exclusive breastfeeding”. What does that mean exactly? According the World Health Organization, EBF is when your child, “only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water.” The duration of EBF depends on your and your child, but the WHO and any other nursing experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life before introducing them to solids.

This can seem very demanding at first. And, take it from someone who knows, EBF is no easy task. Despite all my research, I still faced a number of unexpected obstacles when I decided to exclusively breastfeed my daughter. Between the other challenges that come with motherhood, it’s no wonder many women opt out of EBF. In fact, CBS News reported that most moms who want to exclusively breastfeed end up stopping sometime in the first three months.

But the truth is there are many benefits to EBF, from protecting your baby against illness to helping you through postpartum depression, that might make you consider sticking through the tough times. If you are up to the challenge, here are nine ways to make EBF a whole lot easier.

1. Be Prepared

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Exclusively breastfeeding is a very demanding job, but remembering to have what you need when you need it will help relieve stress. Before you leave the house with a baby in tow, think through what you’ll need and make sure you have it on hand.

2. Get A Quality Breast Pump

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Investing in a good breast pump will save your life, as pumping allows other people to feed your baby your breastmilk. This way, you can get a break from the nighttime feedings, and your baby still reaps the benefits of your milk.

3. Stay Hydrated

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The Mayo Clinic recommends that breastfeeding moms drink plenty of water, as this will help you and your baby stay energized. In cases of severe dehydration, your milk supply can be decreased, putting your baby at risk, so it’s important to get enough fluids.

4. Sleep Close To Your Baby

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To minimize the tears during nighttime feedings, it is best to sleep in the same room as your child. That way, there are only an arm’s reach away, and you can get to feeding them quicker.

5. Eat Enough Calories

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Though there is no one right answer to how many extra calories a breastfeeding mom should be getting, BabyCenter recommended they consume an additional 500 calories a day. This will ensure that you get the extra fuel you need and that your little one is getting enough too.

6. Invest In Breastfeeding-Friendly Clothes

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There is nothing worse than realizing you wore a zip-up dress when you’re about to breastfeed in public. Planning ahead will save you the hassle of changing your clothes or running to a bathroom stall to feed your baby. Items like button down shirts or dresses with lower necklines allow you easier access.

7. Don’t Stay Home

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Though every baby is different, La Leche League International notes that you will have to nurse around every two to three hours in the beginning. The feedings will eventually become farther apart, but regardless, it is still a very time consuming task. Getting out of the house, taking your baby on a walk, or going out for coffee with a friend will help you feel back to normal and stave off the postpartum blues.

8. Pamper Yourself

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Though it can feel like all your time and energy goes towards feeding your baby, it is important to treat yourself on occasion. Go get a pedicure, pick up your favorite dessert (remember, you need the extra calories), or watch your favorite movie. Doing little things can help you feel like your “pre-breastfeeding” self and refresh you to keep at it.

9. Get Help

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If you’re one of the many women who get overwhelmed by EBF, do not be afraid to seek help. Call your hospital or OB-GYN and see if they have a breastfeeding specialist. You can also join a support group full of women who would love nothing more than to walk you through your breastfeeding troubles.

Images: Przemek Klos/Fotolia; Bridget Coila, Catherine D'Ignazio, Masaaki Komori, Guillaume Seguin, Benjie Ordoñez, hris Alban Hansen, Sandra Druschke, Angie Chung, David D/Flickr