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If you’re expecting your first baby and you’re planning to breastfeed, you might be wondering what you need to do to prepare. You’ve heard about all the benefits of breastfeeding, and you want to give it a try, but you might be worried about how it will go. While most of the “work” of breastfeeding comes after your baby is born, there are a few important ways you can prepare yourself ahead of time.
Read up on the subject
There are so many awesome books and websites dedicated to breastfeeding. Pick out a few that appeal to you and read up. One mistake women sometimes make is not learning about some of the common things that can go wrong with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is awesome, but it’s not always easy. By learning about what can go wrong, you can be prepared in case it does.
Know your local resources
If something should go wrong, which of course we hope it won’t, it’s good to know ahead of time what resources you have in your area. Does your hospital or doctor’s office employ a lactation consultant? Check to see if they are any IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). If not, ask around or search for an IBCLC in your area as they are an invaluable resource if you have trouble nursing. A couple other great resource are La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA Counselors, and other local breastfeeding support groups. There are also many online forums and groups you can join for support.
Inform your doctor
Let your OB/Midwife know that you plan to breastfeed and be sure that they are on board with supporting your efforts. Also, when you’re looking for a pediatrician, be sure to ask about how they support breastfeeding.
As long as everything goes well (which it hopefully will!), breastfeeding doesn’t require a lot of equipment, but it’s important to get a few things to be ready. You’ll definitely want a nursing bra, nursing tank tops are also a great option. To start with while you’re pregnant, you might only want to buy one or two and be sure to go up a cup size or two. After the baby is born, you’ll get a better idea of what size you need and what type of bra is most comfortable. You will also probably want to get some nursing pads. Not every mom leaks, but if you do, you won’t want to be leaking all over yourself! If you plan to go back to work and continue to nurse, you’ll want to get a breast pump. Insurance companies are now required to pay for breast pumps, so contact yours and see what they can do for you! You may also want to get some nipple ointment, lanolin is not the best option, look for something that is made with ingredients that are safe to digest. There are of course lots of other things you could buy to help with breastfeeding, but those are the basic things you are likely to need.
Prepare your body
You may have heard that you need to “toughen up” your nipples to prepare for breastfeeding. Thankfully, this is just an old wives’ tale. The best thing you can do to prepare your body for breastfeeding is to have a healthy pregnancy. Your body will go through plenty of changes throughout pregnancy and during birth to get ready for breastfeeding, you can support these changes by eating a healthy diet and taking your prenatal vitamins, no nipple toughening needed!
If you’re preparing to breastfeed for the first time, what’s wrong thing you want to know more about? If you’ve breastfed before, what’s your best piece of advice for a new mom? By asking questions and/or sharing our knowledge, we all help each other be the best moms we can be!