Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Preparing to Breastfeed

Preparing to Breastfeed:

It sounds easy: Baby is born, you put baby to your breast, baby eats. Right?

Yeah, I wish. 

Unfortunately, it's often a lot more complicated then that. For moms planning on breastfeeding, there are several things that I found helpful to do before the baby was born, and several things I wish I had done before she was born. 

1) Read all about breastfeeding. 

I was pregnant I read a lot of books. You know the books I'm talking about, the ones that tell you all about what's "normal" when you're pregnant (as if anything about it is normal) and what to expect. I also read several books about breastfeeding, because that was my plan. I had a goal, nurse to at least 1 year, more if it was working well. Because I knew that was a rather lofty goal, I wanted to be as well-informed and knowledable as I could be about breastfeeding, how it works, and the common pitfalls. While I often got bored and skimmed over the mechanics of how it works, I did find it to be incredibly helpful to read about strategies for successful nursing, pumping, and taking care of yourself. While there was no one specific book that was really my bible of nursing, I found it useful to just read, and read a lot. I read blogs, books, websites, etc, just to get my head straight and know what I was getting myself into.

2) Check your nipples

I debated about putting this one in here, because it's awkward. When I was about 5 months pregnant my OB gave me this paper about checking for inverted/flat nipples. I didn't think too much of it at the time. As I got closer to my due date I read a little about it, and realized I had an inverted nipple. A lot of things I read said that it wouldn't impact nursing. So I did nothing. Big mistake. Huge mistake. I'll have to do a whole post sometime soon about how my inverted nipple affected nursing, but let's just say it almost ended the whole thing.

3) Purchase an electric pump

Whether your planning on returning to work or not, a pump will be your best friend. Obviously I needed to pump at work to keep up my supply and provide milk for Fynn to take to daycare, but that's not where my pump was most useful. I actually used my pump before she was born (on the advice of the L&D nurse). When I first went into labor (three days before Fynn was born) I wasn't progressing fast enough to stay at the hospital. The nurse said that by pumping for ten minutes every couple of hours, I could stimulate active labor. I didn't take her up on this advice until the day before she was born, probably should have. 

A good pump is also crucial if you have latch issues in the beginning. I had to pump and feed Fynn via syringe for a few days because she wasn't nursing well. A pump helps too for when you become engorged or your baby just didn't nurse as well. Being able to pump in situations like that is important in helping to prevent clogged ducts and mastitis. 

4)  Purchase nursing gear

This will be a whole other post in itself, but some of the basic must haves are a good nursing bra and a nursing pillow (like a Boppy or My Breast Friend). You want to have these items on hand when you bring baby home because you probably wont feel like going to the store for at least a couple of days and some of this stuff is stuff you want to buy for yourself, not send someone else out for. 

5) Get support

The most important support to have when it comes to breastfeeding is your significant other. If they're not on board, it's going to be a lot harder. Drew was amazing, especially in the early days when I was frustrated and tired. He listened carefully to the lactation consultants we worked with and really helped me troubleshoot when things weren't working well. Having friends or family that breastfed as well is really useful because they can give you some advice and tips or just be a sympathetic ear to talk to. Make sure the people who are important in your life know you plan to breastfeed and feel out to see who will be the most supportive of you and able to help you out. Knowing this before you bring baby home will really help you feel confident in what you're doing.

Those are my top 5 tips of things to do to prepare to breastfeed. I'd love some feedback and ideas from other moms. What have I forgotten? What was helpful for you? What do you wish you had done? 


  1. Yes! I was inverted too!! Still inverted on one, but he latches great there so it's NBD now but WHAM that was a slap in the face when I started nursing.

  2. Breastfeeding was so hard in the beginning, I wrote a whole post on "learning" to breastfeed. Because it truly is a learning experience, but one that was so worth it!


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