Seven Essentials Before Beginning Breastfeeding

Preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant makes learning easier when the baby is here.

by Donna Bruschi, IBCLC

Preparing for breastfeeding is vital, even though breastfeeding is natural and intuitive.

When we think of preparing to breastfeed, we often think of learning how to latch, how to make enough milk, how long each feed should take and how often we should breastfeed. There are many, many concepts to learn. But, preparing for breastfeeding also means freeing up the time you will need.

Breastfeeding is a learned skill which takes time to learn and even longer to master.

In reality, it takes an unbelievable amount of time and practice to figure out. You need time to get to know your baby and understand their cues. You will need lots of time to hold and soothe your baby. You need time to recover from birth. And having time to relax and calm down from the intense focus that babies require is essential.

If you do nothing else to prepare for breastfeeding, clear your schedule.

Take stock of your everyday tasks and chores and make a list of everything you do in a day. Be sure to write down things like grocery shopping, meal prep, household chores, dog walking and litter box emptying, banking and bill paying. Then, run through your weekly and monthly tasks and add things like picking up medications, dump runs, farm share pick-ups, and car washing.

Finally, tell your boss or manager your plans for pumping when you return to work. If you are self-employed, schedule your time off, then write an email responder and record a phone message for the time you are on leave.

Next to each item, write down someone who can manage it.

Life happens. Babies are born early, mothers get sicken and fathers are called in to work for emergencies. Major appliances fail. Ask your family and friends to plan on helping you for the first month. Even though you may not need them that long, it’s nice to have the option, if you need it.

Start building your household supply stash.

You already you know you need diapers and wipes, and adorable outfits and burp cloths. Stock up on paper towels, tissues, toilet paper and soap, and paper plates and cups. You may not like paper plates and cups but they are handy when your baby is on a crying spree. Buy cleaning products and disposable gloves and try to get unscented products because babies are sensitive.

Fill your freezer and stock your pantry with food you like to eat.

Like pregnancy, breastfeeding requires hydration and preparing for breastfeeding means buying several kinds of teas of drinks that you like. Consider your favorite water bottle and buy a spare. Fill a snack basket to keep by your couch. Invest $18.99 in a comprehensive breastfeeding manual like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

I used to think that breastfeeding classes were not that important.

But, I soon learned that women who prepared knew what to expect when learning to breastfeed. When women know what is normal, what is not, and who to call for help, it makes breastfeeding a whole lot more enjoyable from the first day.

Breastfeeding is complex and there are specialized health care providers who can help you.

Lactation consultants are experts in breastfeeding and actually any type of infant feeding. We help you learn how to hold your baby, how to help them latch and have a good attachment, how to move through your challenges and enjoy your breastfeeding experience. If your baby does need supplementation, we can help you choose a way that will let you continue breastfeeding while ensuring your baby has plenty of food. To prepare for breastfeeding, research lactation support in your area. You can also read more about the services I offer here.

For a complete list of ways to prepare, get Seven Essentials Before Beginning Breastfeeding below.

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