I bet you didn’t know you could prepare for breastfeeding while you are still pregnant, did you? That’s right, if you plan to breastfeed, you should definitely start preparing in your second and third trimesters. Learning everything you can before you start down the breastfeeding path will allow you to be more relaxed and successful in feeding your baby, which let’s face it is a huge win as a mom!
My Breastfeeding Journey
When I was pregnant, I spent hours and hours trying to learn as much as I could to prepare myself for my breastfeeding before my daughter arrived and you know what, it went amazing! I absolutely loved breastfeeding my daughter and I think preparation was the key too not being stressed out about it!
I was able to troubleshoot the latch, try different positions and pick up on hunger cues a lot faster than if I hadn’t done any research. I’m going to share with you all my tips and tricks because I want you to be successful at breastfeeding to Mama!
How to Prepare For Breastfeeding While you are Still Pregnant
Create a breastfeeding kit
I know this sounds silly, but once you sit down to breastfeed you might get stuck there for quite some time and running around looking for supplies – especially when you are downright exhausted, isn’t ideal.
I had little breastfeeding baskets all around my house (night table, by the couch and in the nursery) where I thought I would be breastfeeding. It seemed like overkill when I was making them but I was so happy to have them in those first weeks.
If you don’t feel like making multiple kits like I did, just make sure the one you make is easily portable so you can grab it when its time to breastfeed. The ability to feed my baby in whatever location I pleased was such a big help to my mental state, you don’t feel isolated or tied down – which can happen because breastfeeding is a full time job!
This is what I put in my basket:
- Lanolin cream
- Nursing pads
- Receiving blanket or burp cloths
- Water bottle
- Granola bar or easy snack
- Breast pump parts * I would keep this by where you intend to pump – if your anything like me you wont want to lug that thing around if you don’t have to*
Even though you might not want to pump, it is still important to have one in case your baby can’t latch correctly, have milk when you need to be away from your baby, to build a freezer stash, increase supply, etc.
Research the different types of pumps available and buy one that suits your needs. They all have similar features, but some have the ability to run on a rechargable battery, be hands free, etc. Popular brands are the Spectra and Medela. Your insurance might cover the costs of a pump so definitely check that out before purchasing because they might not all be covered! Personally I love the Spectra pump. I have the S2, but really wish I splurged for the S1 version that allows for pumping with a battery.
Take the time to learn how to use your pump. In my experience they are quite simple to set up and use but it is going to be much easier to learn when you are pregnant vs. when you are sleep deprived from being up all night with the baby. This is especially important if you plan to exclusively pump.
Clean and sterilize all the parts as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. This way the pump is all set up and ready to go when you need it!
Learn the different breastfeeding positions
Before I began my research I thought there was only one position to breastfeed, you know the one you see in all the movies, but there are several. This can be overwhelming at first, so it is important to learn the different positions before your baby comes so you can try different things if your baby is having difficulty with breastfeeding.
If your baby is anything like mine, he or she may do better at latching in one position than in others. My baby could only latch on my right breast in the football position until she was about 2 months old. The left side she could feed in any position I put her in. Knowing the positions ahead of time will help both of you be more comfortable and more relaxed as you go through this experience together.
Some of the positions to look up and practice (I used a rolled-up swaddle blanket or teddy bear before my daughter was born) are:
- Football hold
- Cradle Hold
- Cross-cradle Hold
- Side-lying position
- Laid – Back position
Learn to identify a good latch
Here are the basics of what a good latch should look like while breastfeeding:
- Baby takes all or part of the areola into their mouth – not just the nipple
- Babies lips turn out (duck lips)
- Babies chin touches your breast
- Baby is facing your breast. Head, chest and stomach are all aligned, and baby head is not just turned to face breast
- You hear or see swallowing
- Breastfeeding is pain free – Keep in mind you will experience tenderness at first, but it shouldn’t be painful
You want to make sure your baby is latched correctly to save your nipples and also ensure they are efficiently removing milk.
Take a breastfeeding course
There a ton of online resources but my personal favorite is The Birth Bootcamp course on breastfeeding. The course is very affordable, and there are so many useful things to learn there including how to breastfeed, how milk is produced and troubleshooting, and so much more. There is also a workbook and several downloadable resources. The best part is that you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, which let’s face it, pregnancy is hard and if your like me, comfort is key! Check out this link for more information!
Even if you don’t choose to take an actual breastfeeding course, please make sure you are using reputable sources. Remember this is your babies only source of nutrition for the first few months so its pretty important!
Talk to your spouse about breastfeeding
This probably sounds like a no brainer but you need to have a bigger discussion than just “hey, I’m going to breastfeed.”
Breastfeeding is a full time job and will be very time consuming for you mama. It is important for your hubby/ spouse to understand this. You should try and get your spouse involved when you are learning the different positions, identifying a correct latch, how to clear a milk duct, etc. so that he knows how to help you on this journey. When you are exhausted and have been awake all night feeding your little bundle of joy and nothing seems to be going right, a fresh set of eyes might just be the key to success, so help him to be involved!
Discuss your preference on Visitors
At first, I wasn’t comfortable just whipping out my boob and breastfeeding when people where over. It was so difficult for me to manage a cover up, getting my baby into the correct position, and then breastfeeding. We were both learning and it was just way to stressful for me. At the beginning of our breastfeeding journey, I would retreat to a different spot in the house when people where over. This became such a lonely experience for me because I felt like I was being isolated for feeding my baby.
Instead we started asking visitors to come between feeds. And by “we”, I mean my husband did. This became his task and I was so thankful for him for doing this! Restricting visitors took such huge weight off my shoulders and I felt so much less pressure to be perfect when trying to feed my baby.
Now if your the mom that doesn’t care about an accidental nip slip or just feels comfortable enough to whip it out and feed your baby, I am all for that. But that wasn’t me. I am sure everyone will feel differently about this topic but its something to consider. Talking about this with my husband and even thinking about it myself would have saved me so much stress!
Join a breastfeeding support group
As you progress through your breastfeeding journey it can be especially helpful to have somewhere to turn when you have questions or concerns.
Check to see if there is a local La Leche League near you. They are seriously an amazing resource and can answer nearly any question you will have in regard to breastfeeding. Also, check out their huge online resources!
Milky Mama’s on Facebook is also an amazing resource that I have used myself, but keep in mind that these are just other mom’s and any information you receive on there should be taken as opinions only and is not a substitute for a medical professional.
Purchase your breastfeeding supplies
So we already discussed some items you will need such as those in your breastfeeding kit and a pump, but there are other items that will help make your journey a success:
- A few bottles (do not stockpile one brand because you don’t know what baby will like) if you plan to use them
- Nursing Bras
- Nursing shirts – this is personal preference, I usually just lift up whatever shirt I am wearing
- Nursing Pillow *this is a MUST HAVE item to save your back, shoulders and neck*
- Nursing cover
- Breastmilk storage bags
Take a deep breath and relax
Breastfeeding has a learning curve no matter how much you prepare. Keep in mind your baby has never breastfed either and is learning with you.
Practice makes perfect as with anything, so try not to get too stressed out. If you are getting overwhelmed let your husband try and help (you did prep him after all) or take a few minutes to yourself to regroup. Just know that you are doing great!
Remember, no matter how you get there, a fed and healthy baby is ultimately all that matters.
Good luck and you got this mom!
If you have breastfed in the past, was there anything you did to prepare? Id love to hear about it In the comments!
Still haven’t packed your hospital bag? Check out my no BS post on what you ACTUALLY need in your hospital bag here!