We put so much thought into the birth itself, sometimes breastfeeding can get overlooked, but getting prepared during pregnancy can have massive benefits on a mother's breastfeeding journey. Here’s 10 ways to help prepare for breastfeeding while pregnant:
1. Talk with your family about your wishes to breastfeed and what you want and expect from them. Talk to your midwife, she will be able to give you lots of useful resources. Reach out to friends who have breastfed. It’s good to have people on the other end of a text or a phone call if you need a quick bit of advice or encouragement
2. Find a local breastfeeding group so that you already have a support network of breastfeeding peers when baby arrives. It can also be beneficial to call into your local breastfeeding group before you give birth. Being able to see mums breastfeeding and listening to their experiences can be really comforting.
3. Take a breastfeeding class online – The first time you hear the words ‘latch’, ‘engorgement’ and ‘let down’ should be in an environment where you can take in information, not when you have just given birth to a hungry newborn.
4. Include your wishes in your birth plan. Be sure to include lots of skin on skin, as this simulates the hormones required for milk production. You might want to include things like delayed cord clamping and an uninterrupted first hour.
5. Research different breastfeeding positions. We’re used to seeing the standard cradle hold but there are so many amazing breastfeeding positions, if one doesn’t feel right for you in the beginning, it can be helpful to be equipped with a few more to try. Your midwife will be on hand in those early hours and days to help with different positions too.
Check out our Nursing Nest for lateral breastfeeding.
6. Research what a good latch looks like. The acronym CHIN can help
- Close to body
- Head free to move
- In line – head and body in the same direction, no twisting
- Nose to nipple - before latch encourages a deep latch
7. Know where your milk supply comes from. Your milk will ‘come-in’ around 2-4 days after you give birth. Before that, your baby receives highly concentrated colostrum. Once your milk is in, you will produce milk on a supply and demand type system. Milk production require water and calories so stay hydrated and keep an eye on calorie intake.
8. Pack a separate breastfeeding bag – Snacks and water go hand in hand with breastfeeding. You’ll be hungry and thirsty so make sure to bring plenty. Make sure to pack some breastfeeding saviours too. Nipple pads to absorb any leaks, a nipple cream suitable for breastfeeding, comfortable nursing bras, a milk collector if you want to collect milk from the breast that isn’t feeding. Silver cups can be good for protecting sensitive nipples in between feeds. A supportive breastfeeding pillow that allows you to feed in various positions, vital for good breastfeeding posture and comfort.
9. Mentally prepare yourself for the newborn feeding schedule and get plenty of rest in advance. It’s best to feed on demand to help establish your supply and comfort baby. This means you could be feeding every hour in those first few days. Get as much rest in as you can before birth and go easy on yourself after birth. Allow yourself to pull the drawbridge up and focus on your baby.
10. Know that any pain is only temporary. It’s absolutely normal to feel some discomfort and pain in your nipples and breasts. Being prepared for this can help. Take comfort in knowing that your body will toughen and adapt very quickly and any pain you feel now, will go away soon, It does get easier.