How to Prepare for Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
The choice of whether or not you should breastfeed your baby is a very personal decision. If you are pregnant, you have likely thought about breastfeeding at some point, wondering if this is something that you’ll be able to realistically do.
Whatever horror stories you may have heard or well-meaning advice you have received from friends and family, it is important to feel supported in the decisions you make about how you feed your baby.
Preparing For Breastfeeding
When it comes to breastfeeding, are there things that you can be doing before your baby arrives to help prepare yourself for this transition?
Even if you are not fully committed to the idea of breastfeeding your baby, there are simple steps you can take during pregnancy to help you with breastfeeding. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy:
1. Learn More About Breastfeeding
Learning about the process of breastfeeding can help inform you about what this transition will look like for you when the time comes. While there are certain aspects of breastfeeding that may not seem understandable until you actually have your baby, there are things you can begin learning about during pregnancy.
This includes different nursing positions, what an effective latch looks like, signs that your baby is getting enough milk, and how to recognize when you might need professional help and support. Many hospitals and delivery centers offer free breastfeeding classes to expectant mothers that cover an overview of the basics that can help prepare you once baby comes.
2. Understand your own body
There are some medical and/or physical conditions that can potentially bring some challenges to breastfeeding. Examples might include a history of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), previous breast surgery, thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalances, having diabetes, or lack of breast growth during pregnancy.
While these factors do not mean a woman cannot breastfeed, it may be helpful to discuss some of these aspects ahead of time with a prenatal professional. Also, if you are taking certain medications to manage a chronic condition, be sure to ask your healthcare provider if these will be safe to continue while breastfeeding.
3. Connect With Breastfeeding Support
Having breastfeeding resources on hand before your baby comes can make your life so much easier in the postpartum period. Get to know what breastfeeding resources are available in your community, including lactation consultants, breastfeeding centers, and free breastfeeding support groups.
Researching this information now will help you know where to turn should you run into any issues or challenges as you begin breastfeeding. Some lactation consultants make home visits, or you may be able to see someone in your pediatrician’s office should you run into any issues or concerns. Keep a list on hand so you can easily access the professional support and assistance you need to successfully breastfeed your baby.
4. Prepare Your Home and Calendar
Breastfeeding, especially in the first few months, can be fairly time consuming and seem to take up most of your day. While it won’t be like this forever, it is important to create space in your calendar and schedule that allows you to comfortably breastfeed your baby. Things that may have been done with little effort can suddenly feel more time-consuming while also trying to breastfeed your baby.
You may consider limiting your activities and commitments postpartum so that you have the flexibility to get into a breastfeeding routine with your baby. Delegate what you can ahead of time so you are able to focus on healing during postpartum while also breastfeeding your baby.
This might include scheduling someone to help clean your home, ordering your groceries and meals online, or asking for help with housekeeping tasks. Keep the supplies you need for you and baby around your home so you can comfortably nurse at any time of day, including diapers, wipes, snacks and water for you, a comfortable place to sit, and a nursing pillow.
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Ultimately, it is helpful to keep an open mind by understanding that your breastfeeding experience may be different than what you are envisioning. Planning ahead with support and resources that can help you, should you run into obstacles, will be invaluable after you deliver your baby. The early postpartum days can be hectic, and having some advanced preparation can make things a bit easier.
Above all, know that you are not alone through your motherhood and breastfeeding journey. If you are breastfeeding and are experiencing difficulties or challenges, please reach out for the help you need. No matter what, you are the most amazing mama for your precious little one.