Prepare for a Better Breastfeeding Experience
Like any new skill, breastfeeding takes just a bit of practice.
Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of breastfeeding is that it requires moms to learn while on the job. Like any new skill, it can take a bit of practice to become successful. The fatigue of the first weeks of new motherhood can make this even more difficult.
Prenatal planning can be advantageous for moms who desire to breastfeed.
Here are a few tips to lay the groundwork for breastfeeding success:
1. Study up
Before your due date, read as many books and watch as many videos as you can about breastfeeding. Become particularly familiar with the early days of breastfeeding, latching techniques and proper positioning. Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class or support group to gain further knowledge.
2. Support yourself
Having access to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can help increase your breastfeeding success. Choose a delivery hospital that offers inpatient lactation support. Some hospitals, like ours, also offer this support in person and by phone, even after moms are discharged.
3. Prepare your pump
If you plan to pump, purchase one ahead of time, sanitize it and set it up so it is ready to use. Most moms are eligible for a free breast pump from their insurance company. Some hospitals, like ours, also rent hospital grade pumps and offer tutorials about how to use your pump.
4. Stock up
Certain supplies can make breastfeeding more comfortable for baby and mom. I recommend that, at the least, you purchase a breastfeeding pillow to have with you in the hospital and also stock up on a few nursing tanks. Other items like nipple cream, nursing pads, nursing bras and breast shells can be purchased once you begin nursing and discover you need them.
5. Set the scene
Prepare a space in your home to breastfeed. A special chair is not required, but pick a seat you’ll be comfortable in day or night. Make sure there is a spot to place important items like your water, a snack, burp cloths or your phone. If you have older kids, you may want to keep items like crayons, puzzles, snacks and more on hand to keep them occupied while you nurse.
6. Try a warm up
If your OB/GYN okays it, consider hand expression or pumping milk before birth. If your pregnancy is healthy, this is a great way for your body to prepare for what’s to come. If you properly store this colostrum (early milk) you can bring it to the hospital with you in case the baby has any latch issues.
While breastfeeding is a skill that takes practice, planning can make the early days of breastfeeding more manageable. Always feel free to reach out to an IBCLC with any questions about breastfeeding–that’s why we are here.
This article was written with the help of the Lactation Support team at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. These International Board Certified Lactation Consultants offer inpatient breastfeeding support to all new and delivering mothers at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. Our lactation consultants also provide prenatal and postpartum lactation classes, outpatient lactation consultations, hospital-grade breast pump rentals and a full line of Medela brand breastfeeding support tools. If you have any questions or concerns, the team can be reached, free of charge, at 757-312-3159.