How to Prepare to Breastfeed Before Giving Birth
Before going to the delivery room, here’s what you can do to ensure breastfeeding success
Thinking about all the things you need to do before bringing a baby into the world can be overwhelming (to say the least). We’re here to help make life a little easier by giving you a rundown on how to prepare to breastfeed before the big day comes. Make sure to add these to your to-do list to make the transition to breastfeeding and motherhood a little easier.
Learn about the process
This sounds obvious but while we all might have a general idea of what breastfeeding involves, do you know what it actually looks like? If not, take some time to watch videos (like these videos from Breastfeeding Inc.) and talk to friends who are currently breastfeeding or have breastfed their babies to learn about all of the nuances that come along with it. Trust us, while every experience is different, there is a lot of mom-wisdom to learn and share out there. It will be helpful to learn more about positioning, so you can start thinking about the mechanics of breastfeeding and how to properly handle and store your milk supply after you pump.
Did you know that you can also schedule a free lactation consultation with an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to learn from a professional? While you might still have questions about breastfeeding once the baby is born, all the research you can do beforehand will give you a baseline knowledge and save you the hassle of trying to figure out how everything works while also trying to care for your newborn. And, you can always schedule a follow-up consultation once you and your baby begin breastfeeding.
Tell your physician, OB/GYN or Midwife that you want to breastfeed
If you know you want to breastfeed your baby, make sure to let your doctor know and check to see if your hospital or birthing center is a “baby-friendly”. Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers have delivery room staff there to support the establishment of a close relationship between mother and baby and help you in your breastfeeding journey from the start. For instance, they encourage skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby to help them bond soon after birth. Did you know that a baby’s suckling instinct is strong within the first hour of life? That close connection will help aid in you and your newborn’s connection to breastfeeding. Additionally, they assist moms to understand how to breastfeed straight away and help them feel confident to continue after leaving the hospital. The sooner they’re aware of your wants, the more at ease you can be knowing that you have the support you need to start breastfeeding straight away.
Tell your partner, parents, in-laws and the other important people in your life about your decision
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, tell your family about your choice so they can support you in your decision. Having these important people around to encourage you goes a long way after the baby is born, and mom, you deserve all the support you can get! Make sure your partner, parents, in-laws and the other important people in your life have the information they need to help advocate for you and your baby (our blog is a great place to start!). You know what is best for your baby, but having that extra support at home is crucial in the beginning. For additional guidance and support, reach out to request a consultation with a lactation consultant. Bonus points for bringing your partner along on your visit.
Consider prenatal care
Having prenatal care can help keep you and baby healthy in all aspects throughout the pregnancy journey. Particularly, prenatal care can help you avoid premature birth. This is important for many reasons, including the fact that babies born before the full 39-week term may have more problems with breastfeeding than babies who make it through a full-term pregnancy. If you have a premature birth don’t worry! It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to breastfeed. You and your little one may need a little more one-on-one support offered through a lactation consultant.
If you are unsure about prenatal care, you should talk to your doctor to learn more about what that care could look like for you. This will help make sure you and your baby are getting the care and support you need to set you both up to be happy and healthy postpartum.
There’s an abundance of information out there about everything you should and shouldn’t do before giving birth, but one thing is for certain: Your health and wellness before and after the pregnancy process is the most important. So make sure to take care of yourself, mom! You’re creating a person and that is a thing of wonder!
If you have questions or you are looking for support and advice from a breastfeeding expert, contact us here at The Lactation Network! We offer insurance-covered in-home and in-office lactation consultations, at no out-pocket-cost to help moms on their breastfeeding journey.