There are lots of ways to prepare yourself ahead of time to make sure you and your baby have the best chance of succeeding at breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding is natural, it’s a learning process for both mom and baby to get the hang of. As such, you can research and prepare so that you minimize barriers, reduce frustrations, and get the tools and support in place to give it your best effort.
- Read, read, read! In our past post Breastfeeding Help & Resources for New Moms, we gave a comprehensive list of breastfeeding books available. Pick up at least one so you can educate yourself on best practices and the experts’ advice for breastfeeding.
- Get the tools you need. A Boppy, Breast Friend or other supportive pillow, baby-safe and pediatrician-approved nipple cream for soothing chapped nipples, reusable or disposable nursing pads, and some nursing tank tops. You’ll probably want to buy nursing bras at least until your milk comes in and regulates a little—your breast size is definitely going to change!
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Make sure your prenatal care provider (doctor, midwife, etc.) is behind you 100% with breastfeeding. Same goes for your new baby’s pediatrician. The more supportive they are, the more patient they’ll be if you’re having difficulties getting started. Make sure your partner is on board as well. Breastfeeding can be difficult for everyone in the family if things are hard to establish, so everyone needs to be committed.
- At the hospital, make sure your nurses at the hospital know that you want to breastfeed. Your best bet for success in the hospital is to have your baby in the room with you. This way you can both start to learn cues and you can begin to nurse your baby on demand—helping your milk come in. And wear your Dressed to Deliver 3-in-1 Gown! This gives you easy immediate access to nurse without having to deal with hospital gown clumsiness.
- And finally, when at the hospital, take advantage of lactation consultants if they have them available.
Finally, be patient and forgiving of yourself. There’s going to be lots to get used to, and breastfeeding can be the tip of the iceberg. Take a deep breath, ask for help, and know that even if you end up formula feeding your baby, you will still be a great mom!