How you choose to feed your baby can be a very personal decision. But if you plan to breastfeed there are some things you should do while pregnant. These will help you to be prepared to successfully breastfeed your baby if that’s what you hope to do.
1. Take a breastfeeding class
Most importantly, you should take a breastfeeding class. I can’t stress enough how important taking a class is. My biggest regret in preparing for the birth of my older daughter was skipping this class!
I assumed breastfeeding was intuitive and would just happen. We had a rough start that I was completely unprepared for! You can read about our breastfeeding journey if you want all the details. Do yourself and your baby a favor and take a class before your baby arrives.
2. Find a support group
As a new mom, you’ll need lots of help and support, including with breastfeeding. This is doubly important if your family isn’t very knowledgeable or supportive. I recommend joining both in person and online groups.
In person groups will often be led by an IBCLC, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They are the most educated about breastfeeding and can help coach you through any issues. The in person groups also generally have a scale available so you can weigh your baby and see how much milk they are getting.
Virtual groups are great as well because they are available in the middle of the night when you may need them most. Chances are if it’s 2am and you’re struggling to stay awake or your baby is being extra difficult there will be several other moms awake too to answer questions or just to know you aren’t alone. I am a part of a few on Facebook. I recommend joining more than one so you can find a good fit. Some groups are nicer than others. Virtual groups are also great places to ask questions you may be too embarrassed to ask face to face.
3. Get a nursing pillow
Moms will have different opinions as to whether this is a must have as well as which is the best nursing pillow. Personally, I consider a nursing pillow to be a must-have item, especially in the early days. It can help to position baby correctly and give extra support since the nursing sessions are long those first few weeks. Especially for first-time moms that haven’t built up much arm strength yet.
There are many to choose from so try them out and see which works best for you.
4. Get a breast pump
Actually, I recommend you get several breast pumps. I would have an electric, manual, and a haakaa breast pump all as part of your arsenal.
An electric pump is your workhorse. That’s the one you’ll probably use most, especially if you plan to go back to work. These are generally available for free through your insurance.
A manual pump is great to use if you’re somewhere without easy access to electricity. Some women also just find they respond better at times to a manual pump.
The haakaa is actually something you use on one breast while you feed baby on the other. This handy little device will catch any letdown or leakage you may have so that none of that liquid gold goes to waste!
5. Stock up on Galactagogues
What the heck are galactagogues you may be asking? These are things that may increase your supply of breast milk. There are really no items here that are 100% effective. Everyone’s body is a bit different so try a variety of things and see what makes a difference. Some common ones are:
- Water – staying hydrated is very important to breastfeeding
- Coconut Water
- Lactation cookies or smoothies (You can find lots of recipes on Pinterest, plus you’ll be starving and need extra calories!)
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Dark Beer
Ask a group of breastfeeding moms and you’ll likely get many more suggestions for things they think may have helped them. Stock up on these before your baby comes and you’ll save yourself some trips to the store.
That’s it! Do these 5 things and you’ll be well on your way to breastfeeding success when your baby arrives!
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