5 Steps to Prenatal Preparation for Breastfeeding
From the moment we find out we’re pregnant, we start to prepare… for everything. But one thing we often neglect – which happens to be one of the most important things to consider for after Baby’s born – is breastfeeding! How you plan to feed you new bundle of joy is a biggie, and can be pretty daunting.
That’s why we’ve enlisted our resident lactation consultant and momma of 5 to help you with your prenatal breastfeeding preparation. Take it away, Katie!
Hi, Caitlin, moms and moms-to-be! With 5 kids including twins, my life is full. I’m so happy to be able to contribute during such a precious time in your lives. Let’s get started!
Labor. We start thinking about it when the test is positive and don’t stop until the baby is in our arms. It is so important to prepare mentally and physically for labor. Yet, ready or not, labor comes and goes (hopefully) in a matter of hours. But moms, what about breastfeeding?! Shouldn’t there be preparation for something you may plan to do every couple of hours (or more) every day for a year or longer? Breastfeeding immediately becomes a major concern after the baby arrives, but may be only a brief thought prenatally. There are several things you can do now, before the baby comes, to aid in a successful breastfeeding (and or pumping) experience.
1. Read about breastfeeding while you are still pregnant.
This will give you a firm understanding of the many normal changes you’ll experience throughout lactation
Breastfeeding on day one during the colostrum phase with tiny volumes is very different from breastfeeding on day 10 when you’ll likely have ounces of milk at each feeding. On day one and day 10 you’ll likely need much fussing with positioning and support for both you and the baby. Neither of these are like nursing a 6 or 8 month old who barely requires you to sit down or unbutton your shirt before nursing.
When you are registering, don’t forget to add a really helpful breastfeeding book to your wish lists. You’ll enjoy The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (LLL manual) or The Breastfeeding Book (Sears). Take it from me, you’ll appreciate a great reference much more than another swaddler or wipe warmer.
2. Connect with other breastfeeding mothers in your area
Breastfeeding is much more than a way of feeding your baby. You will have questions and concerns and other breastfeeding mothers will likely become your favorite resource for both information and reassurance.
La Leche League suggests that expectant mothers attend a series of 4 monthly meetings prior to delivery. This is great, because you’ll be able to think through many common concerns of new mothers before you’ll even deliver. You’ll be made to feel welcome. You can find a meeting location in your area www.llli.org. (BONUS: There is no charge!)
3. Gather supplies
To make it simple (because what pregnant woman doesn’t need a lil’ simple in her life?), we’ve put together this chart:
4. Make some calls
Call your delivering hospital to inquire about lactation services. The flat screen and room service that wooed you on your tour won’t matter at all if you have no help with a 2 day old who is struggling to latch on and breastfeed. Will you find out on day one you are competing with 30 other newly delivered mothers for an assessment by one part time IBCLC? Will you deliver on a Friday only to find out lactation staff is off on weekends?
Call your delivering hospital and speak to the lactation department to find out the number and credentials of the lactation team and how to access them once you arrive. Proactively seek out a home visit in the first two weeks while lactation is still open to intervention and not yet fully established. Timing matters. Even a single day of inadequate stimulation and draining of the breasts may negatively impact the volume of milk you are able to provide long term.
Call The Lactation Network to investigate your lactation coverage for pumps and lactation visits. Find out about your specific coverage, then utilize it to the fullest degree to meet your personal lactation goals.
Call any friends and family members who successfully nursed or pumped. Ask them what made a positive difference and just listen to their personal stories.
5. Schedule a home visit lactation consult with an IBCLC
This is crucial! The Lactation Network has you covered here, visit https://lactationnetwork.com/lactation-consultation/.
When to meet with an IBCLC: Again, timing matters! The sooner you get help the better. The delivery of the placenta starts a sort of “sand through the hour glass” for lactation establishment. Around the 2-week mark, the milk supply is fairly well established and it becomes exponentially more difficult to increase milk supply.
Need some help setting a timeline? Here are some guidelines to keep you on track for your best breastfeeding experience!
Above all else, I hope you’ll be excited to breastfeed and really look forward to the hours you’ll spend with your baby in your arms nursing. Yes, just like much of motherhood, it can be challenging, but it is also wonderful. Best wishes to you!
Katie McGee, RN, IBCLC