6 Tips to Help You Prepare for Breastfeeding
Every mother and baby deserves the opportunity to breastfeed. I think there are 3 critical steps to breastfeeding successfully in order to get the best start possible. My 3 step strategy includes preparation, education, and support. All three of these you can do before your baby is born, and support also comes after your baby is born. I am going to share 6 tips that will help you prepare for breastfeeding.
Oftentimes we hear myths like “Make sure your rough up your nipples.” This couldn’t be farther than the truth mama, and that’s why I want to share what you can actually do to help you and your baby get the best start before your baby is even born.
We often spend so much time preparing the nursery, having baby showers, taking a hospital tour, getting all the things we think we need, we forget about the breastfeeding component.
1. Spend time with someone breastfeeding.
We really lost the “village” type atmosphere and culture over the last 100 years especially, and it’s such a pity because now we don’t grow up watching our family members and friends nursing their babies. So you’ll want to make it a point to hang out with those friends or family members that are breastfeeding to help you get used to the idea and chat with them about their experiences. It’s always great to learn from those that made it a priority in their life because they likely have sage advice to offer. You can also seek out breastfeeding groups in your local community or LaLeche Chapter. They welcome pregnant mamas, so don’t be afraid to show up and ask your questions. You want to feel confident in your journey!
2. Know what normal looks like.
In other words, prepare and educate yourself on how many diapers your baby should be having-pee and poop, as well as how much they will be eating, and how much weight they should be gaining. Also know that your baby will eat a lot of small amounts, especially in the first several weeks as their belly continues to increase in size. This is totally normal. They may cluster feed, which means they’ll eat more frequently than normal, and it may start as early as day 2. Your baby will eat around the clock, even at night, which surprises some moms. Sleep deprivation is a real thing in the newborn stage for both parents so be extra sensitive to this time and take care of yourself. This is all normal and indicates a good breastfeeding start. Knowing what to look for and what to expect in the first several weeks can really help put your mind at ease.
3. Engage your partner.
Your support system, including your husband or partner, can be a real asset in your breastfeeding experience. Use your partner to do some of these things: do skin to skin after a feeding, wear your baby in a carrier, give baby a bath, change baby’s diapers, bring you water and a snack when you’re feeding, give you a gentle foot massage, watch baby while you take a shower or nap, take care of house chores, the list goes on. Make a list for your partner so they feel helpful and can offer assistance without always having to ask you.
4. Preserve the golden hour after birth.
The golden hour is literally the hour after your baby is born. You want to reserve this time for immediate skin to skin after birth, with no bath, and immediate breastfeeding as your baby is interested. Your baby will undergo several stages after birth, including their first feeding. Your baby will get colostrum during this golden hour, which is the perfect liquid gold they need to begin life outside the womb. Colostrum is filled with the perfect amount of fat, protein, water, carbohydrates, antibodies, and immune builders for your baby. If you’re away from your baby for whatever reason, be sure you start hand expressing your milk and offering it to your baby via a spoon, syringe, or cup. This will encourage your milk to come in, and provide your baby with the best nourishment.
5. Learn the basics.
This means understanding what breastfeeding looks like, feels like, what to expect, how to encourage a healthy milk supply, latching and positioning techniques, bottle feeding, introducing artificial nipples, and so much more. If you’re looking for more education, I have an online breastfeeding course, so you can check that out here. It provides everything you need to know about breastfeeding.
6. Find support.
Support can be used prior to your baby being born in support is also especially critical after your baby is born. Line up support before your baby is even born so you can turn to them for help immediately after delivery. A lactation consultant can do an assessment on you and your baby, answer all your concerns, and boost your confidence.