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A few simple steps will prepare you for a successful breastfeeding journey
While you’re waiting for your little one to arrive, now is the perfect time to set yourself up for breastfeeding success. A new baby brings a lot of new experiences, but a little preparation and education will get you started on the right foot and help you navigate the ups and downs. Here are a few ways you can prepare for the arrival of your new addition:
1. Educate yourself.
Take a breastfeeding class at your local hospital (some local baby boutiques or lactation groups may also offer classes). Read up on the different breastfeeding positions, and study common breastfeeding ailments so that you know the signs and can address them immediately. Websites like Kellymom.com and La Leche League offer helpful, research-based information and resources. While many moms don’t experience struggles with latching, mastitis, low supply or other issues, knowledge is power. Being aware of what may come up will give you reassurance: you’re not alone and there are treatments available.
2. Create a birth plan that supports breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about your desire to breastfeed and ask questions about what typically happens after delivery. Find out your options and communicate your wishes to those who will be around you on the big day. For examples, do you want your baby placed on your chest immediately after delivery to start the benefits of skin-to-skin contact? Do you want to latch and start nursing as soon as possible after delivery? (This can be possible even with a c-section!) Do you want the first bath delayed so that you can spend more time together? Do you want to nurse exclusively? Be honest and open about what you want, but also keep in mind that that a birth plan is just that—a plan—and if unexpected circumstances come up, that plan might have to change a bit. Rest assured, if your birth plan doesn’t become a reality, a successful breastfeeding relationship is still absolutely possible.
3. Prepare yourself mentally.
Breastfeeding may not always come naturally, and there will likely be struggles along the way. That is common! It takes time for your baby to adjust to this big, new world and for both of you to get the hang of breastfeeding. With your baby’s tiny tummy rapidly digesting your breast milk and frequent growth spurts in those first weeks, you’ll be feeding often and sometimes for long periods of time (hello, cluster feeding!). Your baby might cry, you might cry, and that is okay. It will get easier. If you experience any pain or need help getting baby to latch properly, don’t hesitate to consult an IBCLC for help.
4. Schedule a consultation with an IBCLC.
Speaking with an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) prior to delivery allows you to ease any fears and establish a relationship before any issues come up. Through Ashland Women’s Health, moms with certain plans in Illinois have access to a Lactation Consultant Home Visit. During this visit, you can learn about proper latch techniques, how to build and maintain your milk supply and more—all before (and after!) your baby arrives. This is your chance to ask questions like: How often should I breastfeed my baby? How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk? Having an IBCLC on your side is invaluable.
5. Talk to other moms about breastfeeding.
Books and the Internet can’t teach you everything. Turn to your like-minded mom friends for support and tips based on their own experiences. They can give you real-life insight into what breastfeeding is like, as well as recommendations for the best products—breast pump, pumping bag, nursing bra—and what you do and don’t need.
6. Decide on a breast pump.
Find the best breast pump for your lifestyle. Start by taking this quick quiz on our website, and get in touch with our team. We’ll get your insurance-covered breast pump sent directly to your door. Talk about being prepared!
Whether you do all or some of these things, the best way to prepare is to keep an open mind. Breastfeeding is wonderful but can also be tough at first. Cut yourself some slack (hey, this experience is all new, whether it’s your first baby or your fourth!). By learning what you can and connecting with resources to help, you’ll set yourself and your baby up for a successful breastfeeding journey.