So, you’ve decided to breastfeed. That’s wonderful! It can be a rewarding experience and a wonderful way to bond with your baby. It is important to know before you start that breastfeeding can be challenging. So how can you prepare yourself for success? Prepare BEFORE baby (or babies) arrive. Check out a few tips below.
Take A Class
First, it is VERY important to take a breastfeeding class! A class will give you a hands-on tutorial about positions, how to latch, when to unlatch, and so much more. Reading books is also very helpful and important, however, taking a class will give you hands-on practice and experience. There are several options you may find! Some classes are provided in-home while some are provided in office. There are also classes that are provided in group settings. Determine what option is best for you. If you’re stuck and not sure where to begin, locate a breastfeeding educator, IBCLC, or CLC in your area.
Get A Pump
Pumps come in two forms, manual and electric. Both have their benefits! Electric pumps are a great tool for simultaneously expressing milk from both breasts but these usually cost more. However, don’t stress! Did you know that most insurance companies cover the cost for you to get one electrical pump? Call your insurance company to discuss if this is covered and what steps you need to take. Usually you will have a few options to choose from. Learn what they are and research to determine which machine will best meet your needs. If your insurance does not cover the cost, consider asking if you can be reimbursed for one you purchase. Also, consider putting both types of pumps on your gift registry.
Build Your Support Team
Support. This is my favorite word. A new mother needs support through all stages of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Support is especially important when feeding your newborn. Questions arise, doubts can creep in, and (frankly) you’re tired and recovering. You need support. Support can come from your birth team (partner, doula, friends, extended family). Support can be a group meeting you attend. Birth related businesses (Childbirth education centers, Lactation offices, Midwifery/Doula offices), and Hospitals typically offer breastfeeding support groups. Find your local group and consider attending. After your birth, some members of your birth team should be able to assist getting the baby latched for the first time. Ask your midwife, doula, or nurse for help. If you’re giving birth in a hospital, seek out their lactation consultant. Ask them to help get baby latched and to show you different positions.
Find Lactation Support
If your breastfeeding journey is having some issues, knowing who to contact BEFORE issues arise will save you valuable time and reduce stress. Make a list of qualified lactation support in your area before baby comes. Take a moment to interview a few people. Get to know them. Get a feel for if they’re a fit for you. Ask them what services they provide? Can they come to your home or would you have to visit an office? What does their follow-up support look like?
Know Everyone’s Journey Is Different
Breastfeeding does not look the same for everyone. Some exclusively breastfeed. Some choose to supplement feedings. Some choose to exclusively pump breastmilk. Some try it for a few weeks and decide it is not best for their situation. Also, not everyone will be able to or choose to breastfeed. All of these options are perfectly okay! Breastfeeding is a unique journey for everyone. Know your limits, both mentally and physically. Get educated. Get supported.
Whatever your breastfeeding journey looks like, always remember to love and care for yourself first and foremost.
*Tiphanie Sparks is a Professional, Certified Doula & Certified Lactation Counselor. She works with people throughout all stages of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.