These five steps can help you prepare for breastfeeding.
1. Make a decision
The first choice is whether or not you will try to breastfeed your new baby. Breastfeeding provides all of the nutrients your baby needs for their first six months of life. In addition, breastfeeding provides natural temporary immunity to various infectious diseases. This helps protect them until it's time for their first round of immunizations.
2. Get informed
Start with your OB/GYN. They can provide information about the benefits of breastfeeding your new baby. They can usually schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant or nurse to tell you about the process and answer any questions you and your partner may have. Once you have the baby, don't hesitate to ask for help, especially during the first few days of breastfeeding.
Many hospitals and birthing centers offer classes for expecting parents. Ask your doctor if your hospital provides any classes for breastfeeding moms. Finally, talk to other parents about their positive experiences with breastfeeding.
3. Don't do it alone
As you recover from delivery, you will be tired. Most breastfeeding moms think that they are the only one who can feed the baby. This isn't true. You will need just as much rest as your baby at first, and depending on the way you delivered (vaginal or c-section), you may be sore as well.
During the first few days, your breasts will produce only colostrum. Colostrum is thick, sticky, and yellow. It serves many different purposes and is extremely important for your newborn. However, some babies are not completely satisfied with this small amount before your milk comes in. You may need to supplement with formula and let someone else feed the baby.
There may be other times when you need a break or aren't available when your baby is hungry. Breast milk that has been properly stored can be put in a bottle and fed to the baby by your partner or other caregivers when necessary.
4. Practice mental preparation
After you have learned about preparing for breastfeeding, the different techniques, and positions, it is time to sit down and run through the process in your head. Gather all of the things that you need, and practice.
5. Make a plan
A plan should include all of the things you will physically need as well as the support you'll need from others. Make sure you have everything that you think you'll need before the baby arrives. Make sure that rooms are set for you and your new baby. If you'll spend most of your day in one or two rooms, make sure that supplies are in both of these rooms and easily accessible.
Make sure that you have a support system in place if you need help. Things can change, and babies have a way of changing them without notice. You may have to deliver sooner than planned, or differently (e.g. an unplanned c-section). This is when you will need more help than you expected.
Most obstetricians and lactation consultants say that there's nothing you need to do or know to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. In fact, most of the care of your nipples will start once your baby has started feeding. You will need to keep your nipples clean and dry and wear a supportive bra. You can use some of the products listed below to make the experience more comfortable for you and your baby.
These six handy things can help make breastfeeding more comfortable.