While you’re waiting for your baby to come, there are several things you can do to prepare for breastfeeding so that you can establish a good nursing relationship early on!
This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series.
When new expectant mothers find out how passionate I am about breastfeeding, I’m often asked how they can prepare for it during pregnancy.
There are several key things you can do to prepare for breastfeeding–even before your baby arrives!
1. Seek out experienced breastfeeding moms.
Ask these moms for their best breastfeeding wisdom. I strongly believe the best breastfeeding advice often comes among friends!
When I began breastfeeding Little Girl 5 years ago, I was blessed with a handful of mom friends who were a few steps ahead. I asked them lots of questions. It was especially helpful to have this group of friends to go to after my baby arrived as well.
In those early days of breastfeeding, there might be times when you feel like giving up. Having a support system in place beforehand is HUGE. When you run into a problem, or just need encouragement, you’ll have other friends to talk to.
If you don’t have any friends who have breastfed, seek out “friends” in an online breastfeeding forum, such as through your local Mommies Network, Baby Center or Diaper Swappers. Many fellow moms are willing to help, but you may need to reach out to them first!
2. Read, Read, Read!
During your pregnancy, I suggest reading up more on the birth itself (more about that in #3!) than on breastfeeding, but skimming the chapters on the early days of breastfeeding from one of the following books will help:
Save the more intense reading until after the baby arrives.
I kept The Nursing Mother’s Companion in my nursing station during Little Girl’s first few months, and I did the same with The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding when Toddler Girl was a newborn. It wasn’t until I was breastfeeding my third that I spent the early days not reading a breastfeeding book! (At that point it was hard to even sit down and breastfeed with two other kids 4 and under–much less read! 😉 )
Image by sundaykofax
3. Prepare for a natural birth.
Not everyone desires a natural birth, but coming from someone who has experienced both a pitocin-“augmented,” epidural birth and two natural births, natural is the way to go–especially when it comes to breastfeeding.
It took five days for my milk to come in after my highly-medicated birth. My milk had already arrived by the time I left the hospital after my natural birth with my second daughter. And I believe it arrived no later than the third day with my third baby.
Part of the reason why I think it took so long for my milk to arrive the first time was because my baby was so sedated from the drugs that we kept having to wake her to nurse…and then she would easily fall asleep at the breast. I had to keep making her suck to stimulate milk production.
Image by USDAgov
4. Meet with a lactation consultant.
Most women do not meet with lactation consultants until after their babies are born. Why not seek one out before delivery? When I was expecting my first baby, I was blessed with a great friend who is a former lactation consultant. She gave me a few pointers before the birth (we actually went out to lunch, and I took notes!!)–and she was there when I called crying over
spilled my lack of milk after the delivery.
Alternately, you can see out a Breastfeeding USA counselor, a WIC peer breastfeeding counselor or a La Leche League leader.
5. Find a breastfeeding buddy.
Whether it be online or in person, try to find a friend who is due close to your due date and who wants to breastfeed. My first breastfeeding buddy was Lexie, who now owns Lexie: Naturals. (It’s been so cool to watch the two of us start our natural living journeys together and her start her skincare company and me start this blog!)
Lexie and I both went back to work as teachers after our babies were born, and we would text each other encouraging notes as we pumped!
If you do all (or even just a couple!) of these things, you’ll be well on your way to a successful nursing relationship with your new baby! Although there is a learning curve when you first get started, breastfeeding is a beautiful and thing. Try it, and stick with it!