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Preparing to Breastfeed before Baby Arrives

There are a lot of things that expecting parents have on their to-do list before Baby’s arrival and preparing for breastfeeding should be one of them. Setting your mind and home up for successful breastfeeding can help make the transition from pregnant to breastfeeding that much smoother. 

What you can do to prepare for breastfeeding

  • Learn about breastfeeding and how milk production works. 

  • Join a breastfeeding support group and/or locate other nursing mothers and resources to support you in this new journey. 

  • Nursing can be really wonderful and also really challenging at times and having a village of people and resources to go to for help can be a real help. 

  • Jot down the names and contact information for lactation professionals/local breastfeeding groups in case you decide to reach out for extra support. 

  • Notify your birth team of your intentions to breastfeed. 

  • Gently pinch the base of your nipple with the pads of your thumb and pointer finger and notice what your nipple does. If your nipple protrudes or if it inverts. This knowledge can help you plan for breastfeeding regardless of what type of nipples you have. Have flat or inverted nipples? Reach out to a lactation professional for guidance on how to best initiate breastfeeding with your newborn. 

  • Plan for comfortable clothing that has easy breastfeeding access. 

  • Examples include: nursing specific tops, dresses or sweatshirts OR shirts/dresses that are low-cut, have a zipper or buttons; a comfy robe, nursing pajamas, nursing tank tops, nursing bras, etc. 

  • Call your health insurance provider to find out if they will cover the cost of a breast pump. 

  • If you purchase a pump, or receive one from your insurance provider, familiarize yourself with it and how it works and should be cleaned. Prepare a spot to house your pumping supplies and milk storage containers. 

  • Depending on the type of pump you get, you may wish to purchase a special pumping bra for a hands free experience.

  • Having the instructions and cleaning guidelines handy will help your support people to better know how to help you. 

  • Purchase reusable or disposable nursing pads to tuck into your bra in case you leak milk in the first few months while your supply regulates. 

  • Think about where you typically will breastfeed the most in your home the first few weeks and set up a breastfeeding basket with supplies you can easily reach for while nursing. 

  • Examples include: Burp cloth, water bottle, easy snacks, chapstick, nipple cream, diaper/nursing log & pen, remotes, book, etc. 

  • Often new mothers find pillow support helpful in the first few weeks of nursing their newborns.  Locate some extra bed pillows you can use to support you and your baby during breastfeeding sessions. 

  • Purchasing a small container of lanolin based nipple cream or having some coconut oil on hand can be helpful if you should experience any initial pain in the beginning but remember, experiencing intense pain is not normal so do reach out to a lactation professional right away if you are feeling very uncomfortable due to nursing. 

  • Once you are full-term and with the permission of your doctor or midwife you can practice doing some hand expression a couple times and if you happen to express a little colostrum, it can be collected and placed in your freezer for potential later use. 

  • Plan for frequent nursing around the clock and what help you might need from your support people in the early days and weeks. 

  • Examples include: help with household chores, meal prep, care of other children, diaper changes and bathing of the baby, etc. 

What you shouldn’t do to prepare for breastfeeding

  • Scrub your nipples or try to toughen them up. 

  • This is NOT necessary and may even cause pain or damage to your sensitive nipples. 

  • Put body care products directly on your nipples. 

  • There are tiny bumps on your areola that produce an oil that helps protect and cleanse your nipples whereas commercial products can remove this natural oil and cause dryness and irritation. 

Although following these guidelines will not ensure an easy breezy breastfeeding experience, they can help you feel more prepared and less stressed when the time actually comes to nourish your newborn at the breast.

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