By Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, RLC
As you look forward to the birth of your baby and getting started with breastfeeding, there are many things you can do during your pregnancy to be ready.
First of all, talk with your doctor and delivery hospital about your desire to breastfeed. Ask questions of your obstetrician and potential pediatrician about breastfeeding and get recommendations for help. Tour your birthing hospital to learn about its policies and the staff who help with breastfeeding, including lactation consultants.
Second, learn how breastfeeding works. Attend a prenatal class and mother-to-mother group meeting. Connect with friends or family who have had a good breastfeeding experience. Ask questions of a lactation consultant, breastfeeding peer counselor, nurse or nutritionist. A good online resource is womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding – both on the Web and YouTube.
Use these resources to discover tips for making breastfeeding effective and comfortable. They can also help trouble-shoot concerns before and after the birth and provide reassurance.
Third, pull together resources you’ll need once the baby is here. Organize family and friends to help with meals and housework. Talk with your employer about maternity leave and how to support your breastfeeding if or when you return to work. If you think you will need a breastpump, talk with a nurse, nutritionist, or lactation consultant (You may be able to get a pump for free through your health insurance).
Organize your home to help with breastfeeding. Have a dim and quiet place for breastfeeding during the day. Stock up on healthy and simple foods you can easily eat between caring for the baby.
Finally, build conviction that you and your baby can breastfeed! Parenting is hard work, sometimes easy and sometimes challenging. Breastfeeding can be rough at times. Use your pregnancy to build your understanding of breastfeeding and your support network. These will help you confidently embrace your newborn and breastfeeding.