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Preparing for Breastfeeding BEFORE Baby Arrives – Everything You Need to Know

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One of the biggest challenges you will face after having a baby, as if giving birth wasn’t challenging enough, is breastfeeding! That’s why preparing for breastfeeding before baby arrives is a MUST!

 

So what exactly can you do to prepare to breastfeed your baby?

 

What if you didn’t take a breastfeeding class? What if you end up becoming an exclusive pumping mom?!

 

Don’t fret mama, these tips will help you out!

 

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Preparing for Breastfeeding Before Baby Arrives

 

Let’s clarify some things — BREAST PUMPING IS STILL BREASTFEEDING.

 

If you end up relying on the pump to pump out breast milk for your little babe, please don’t feel like you’ve failed. You didn’t.

 

And if you end up resorting to formula, guess what, YOU STILL DIDN’T FAIL!

 

However, if you want to have a successful breastfeeding journey, it’s all in the preparation!

 

How to Prepare for Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

 

Believe it or not, your breasts begin making colostrum around the halfway point in your pregnancy according to KellyMom (one of the leading online resources for lactating moms).

 

Some moms even begin leaking some of this colostrum out before their baby is born! (If you happen to experience that, wearing some nursing pads throughout the day will help prevent a leaky mess.)

 

Otherwise, these are some great ways to begin preparing for your breastfeeding journey!

 

Take an Online Breastfeeding Class

 

Taking an online breastfeeding class is by far one of the best ways you can prepare for breastfeeding.

 

Research has shown that moms who participate in a breastfeeding class or education end up breastfeeding their baby longer & more exclusively.

 

Reading books and papers is fun (not really), but you just don’t get that visual learning aspect you get from a breastfeeding class.

 

Visual learning, when it comes to breastfeeding, is very important. There are so many things you just need to see such as:

 

  • How to latch baby to breast
  • Various breastfeeding positions
  • How to manually express yourself if needed
  • How to use a breast pump (for pumping moms)
  • Ways to check if you’ve emptied enough
  • And much more!

 

Plus, with technology these days, you can take a breastfeeding class in the comfort of your own bedroom, living room, patio, you name it!

 

The online breastfeeding class I personally took and suggest is called Milkology!

 

In addition to being able to take this class from home, it’s also VERY affordable (less than $20) and offers various options for pumping moms, back to work moms or nursing moms!

 

Trust me when I say, you can’t go wrong with taking a Milkology breastfeeding class before your baby is due!

 

Don’t Use Artificial Nipples

 

If your goal is to strictly nurse your baby after birth, you’ll need to make it very clear that you don’t want the hospital or birth center to use any artificial nipples (pacifiers, bottles, formula nipples).

 

Practicing the latch between your breast and baby immediately after birth and throughout those early weeks will play a big role in having a successful breastfeeding journey.

 

If you need to, make some signs for your hospital room that say something like:

 

  • Nursing mama – please no artificial nipples!
  • Nursing mama, please no pacifiers, bottles, or formula nipples!
  • Breastfeeding mama – please check with mom before ANY feedings!

 

Find a Lactation Consultant

 

I know I know, your baby isn’t even here yet. 

 

Trust me, if you have ANY kind of issues pop up during your breastfeeding journey (like a clogged duct, low supply, lip/tongue tie, etc…) you will want that lactation consultant on speed dial!

 

I had to use one with BOTH of my babies. My first had a lip/tongue tie that went undiagnosed so long it ended up tanking my milk supply. I worked long and hard with the lactation consultant to make just enough for his needs.

 

My second baby has even worst ties, so bad that after getting them fixed, we had to work very hard on rehabilitating his latching technique. I was so thankful I had the same lactation consultant in my phone and ready to go when I needed her help.

 

If you need help finding a lactation consultant near you, you can find one through the United States Lactation Consultant Directory!

 

Stock up on Breastfeeding Essentials

 

It might look easy, but breastfeeding requires a little more ‘equipment’ than most moms think.

 

Some of the things at minimum that are an absolute MUST include:

 

 

If you don’t have those by the time the baby arrives, you need to hop on over to Amazon or Target, wherever your favorite place to shop is and stock up!

 

Write up a Breastfeeding Plan

 

You’ve probably heard of birth plans and postpartum plans, but what about a breastfeeding plan?

By creating a breastfeeding plan, you can specify things like:

 

  • Specifying your preference for skin-to-skin immediately after birth
  • Avoiding the use of artificial nipples
  • Choosing to room in with baby vs. sending them to the nursery
  • If you have to supplement, how will you do so?

 

These are all really good things to talk about with your partner and hospital/support team to make sure everyone is on the same page to support your wishes.

 

Create Breastfeeding Stations Around the Home

 

Chances are, once baby arrives, you’ll be livin’ in your PJ’s for a few days, nursing baby in random spots throughout the house.

 

To make those spots more comfortable, prepare to keep the following items set up close by:

 

  • Water bottle
  • Nipple balm
  • Healthy snack
  • Nursing pads or milk collector cups
  • Burp Cloth
  • Pillow

 

During the day it’s a bit easier to move around and get the things you need. At night when you’re exhausted and sitting in the dark, having those items close-by ready to go makes all the difference!

 

Get a Breast Pump

 

For you nursing mamas, you’re probably wondering why you need a pump.

 

Well..anything can happen for starters. Also, if you ever end up with a bad clogged milk duct or mastitis, having a pump on hand can be a GREAT way to get that backed up milk out (in addition to nursing).

 

The good news is that your medical insurance may cover all or part of the cost too!

 

Be sure to give them a call to find out what they cover so you can pick out a pump from there.

 

A few pointers to consider when getting a breast pump:

 

  • Look for a closed system pump for sanitary purposes.
  • Opt for a double pump option to encourage a better let down which means more efficiency emptying out the milk.
  • Check the flange sizing, a pump with a larger option of flanges makes it easier to find the best fit (which is VERY important to pump efficiently and comfortably).
  • Make sure the pump has a “let down” and “expression” mode.
  • Find a pump whose highest suction level is between 220mmhG & 350mmhG.

 

My personal favorite is called the Spectra S1 Breast Pump. That pump has some SERIOUS suction that helped me relieve many clogged ducts. It’s also straight forward to use and has lasted me, 2 babies, thus far!

 

Finally, the importance of breastfeeding peer support

 

Surrounding yourself with a support system that will help, support, and encourage you along your breastfeeding journey is so important.

 

Aside from friends and family — you could attend local La Leche League meetups, join some breastfeeding-friendly Facebook groups, or even contact your birth hospital to find out what kind of breastfeeding support they offer!

 

Remember preparation is your BEST friend when it comes to a successful breastfeeding journey! The more you learn and prepare, the fewer surprises you’ll have along the way.

 

You’ve got this mama!

 

 

Karissa is a mama to two little boys & resides in sunny San Diego, California with her family – including their two big doggies! After facing many postpartum struggles with minimal support after her first son was born, Karissa grew passionate about helping new and expecting moms find the support & resources needed to transition into the scary, yet exciting journey into motherhood! Besides blogging, Karissa enjoys weight lifting to stay active & soaking up the awesome San Diego weather with her husband and little boys! You can find her over at FitMommyStrong and on Instagram!

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