When you become pregnant the list of things you start to consider is endless. One of the most important is the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed. If you are deciding on breastfeeding, there are ways to begin preparing for breastfeeding even before your baby is born.
For me, the decision to breastfeed was an easy one. Providing the best nutrients for my baby and developing that special bond with her- yes please! But I really had no idea where to start.
My mentality was, I am planning to breastfeed, and I hope it works out for me. But, I had never been around others who breastfed. Therefore, I had very little foresight as to what to expect when it came to breastfeeding. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in thinking I was going to breastfeed successfully because I didn’t know if I would be able to.
Looking back at that way of thinking now, I wish I could have given myself some words of encouragement. With the right support and guidance, breastfeeding is so very possible!
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing (next to growing our babies) that our bodies are meant for. Let me share with you some things you can do to start preparing for breastfeeding.
Preparing for Breastfeeding
*This article may contain affiliate links. See disclosures for more information. Also, this page is not intended to replace medical advice from your doctor. I aim to provide you with tips that have worked well for me!
Educate Yourself on Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is natural, yes, but it is still a skill and takes time and practice to get good at it. You wouldn’t take a final exam without studying, would you?
Assuming you said no, then consider the birth of your baby the final exam. There is always going to be some things (okay a lot of things) you don’t know, but it is best to go into this as prepared as possible.
The best thing you can do while you are pregnant is to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding.
Start with the fundamentals.
Learn about how the milk is made. What hormones get released and when. Understand mastitis and how to prevent or treat it. Familiarize yourself with the different positions that you can hold your baby in to nurse. Know what foods or medications you may need to avoid while breastfeeding.
There is a lot of information on breastfeeding online.
Check out this online course you can take through Milkology.com. This program is packed with amazing information! Even if this isn’t your first time breastfeeding- you may find it helpful, and it is full of encouragement.
There are also excellent breastfeeding books you can read.
This book is so full of useful information from support, latching, basics of breastfeeding, week by week baby habits or concerns you may encounter. It is just such a great tool to have on board. You can view it here on Amazon.
Nourish Your Body
It is imperative that you provide your body with the proper nutrients it needs- especially when you are breastfeeding. I cannot stress this point enough. In order to provide your baby with everything they need, you first need to provide your body with everything it needs.
Preparing for breastfeeding, means preparing your body.
Put good in to get good out.
The analogy I use often is: you cannot draw water from an empty well. Your body is the well and the water is your milk. In a drought, that water well is going to dry right up, but a well that has depth and healthy replenishment will continue to provide water in abundance. The same goes for your body while you are breastfeeding.
I understand first-hand what happens when you don’t provide your body with all it requires while breastfeeding.
When my baby was first born, I definitely was not eating a well-balanced diet everyday. There was very little time or energy to think about what I was eating. Subsequently, I started to notice my hair was thinning in the front of my scalp. Seriously! Do not underestimate the importance of proper nutrition. Once, I realized what was happening I changed my routine.
One of the best things I did
I made it a staple to have a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries every morning.
Have you heard of oatmeal being good for milk production? It works!
You don’t need to fall into the gimmicky trap of buying those lactation cookies, etc. They are expensive, and you can essentially give your body what they are made of for much cheaper.
Don’t wait until after your baby is born to start eating these foods. The most important part of preparing for breastfeeding is getting your body ready to meet the nutritional demands of your baby.
Foods that are good for healthy lactation are:
- flax seed
- brewers yeast
*note- some people support fenugreek as a milk boosting agent, but this did not work for me therefore I am not adding that to my list. Everyone is different though!
8 cups of water per day is the daily recommendation for all healthy adults
When you are breastfeeding, you should drink a little more than that! I drink on average 3L of water a day, (sometimes more- but that is because I love water!).
What you want to see is your urine to be clear and light yellow. You do not want to see dark concentrated urine- then you know you are not drinking enough!
Remember my water well analogy. Our bodies need water.
Juice, sodas, teas- do not replace drinking plain water. In fact, drinking too much tea or coffee will actually dehydrate you! Drinking adequate amounts of water every day will be so necessary to ensuring a healthy milk supply.
Create a Pumping/Breastfeeding Area
If you can designate one location in your home as your breastfeeding/pumping area or station- go for it! Make this is your breastfeeding/pumping domain!
Do you have a comfy rocker? A small table to keep your pump on as well will be necessary. Having one area that you use, will help you relax and get into that milk making mode.
Next, you will want to have some other supplies while breastfeeding and/or pumping.
You can create a breastfeeding “tool box”. Here’s what it can include:
- water bottle
- pump charger
- notepad and pen (for when your mind suddenly remembers something, or if you are tracking your nursing/pumping sessions)
- burp cloths
- extra bottle for pumping (you never know when you may need it!)
- granola bar or other similar easy to eat snack
- baby wipes
- lanolin nipple cream
Your body is about to do some really heavy work. Breastfeeding your baby is no small task.
You are your baby’s lifeline and only source of nutrition for the first 6 months. And this deserves some mama spoiling if you ask me. Make it as comfortable as possible for yourself. Breastfeeding tops and bras may not be an ultimate necessity on everyone’s list, but if you ask me I feel like they should be!
Ease of access for baby is so necessary.
You may find that your pre-baby tops don’t accommodate your lactating bust. I would strongly recommend breastfeeding tops. They can be pricy because they are a specialty item and they are marketed as such. So, prices are inflated.
My best suggestion to you is to check Amazon. I bought all of my tops from there, and it is pretty much all I wore for the first 6 months. Also consider the fact that you probably won’t fit into your regular bras. So, you may want to invest in a few of those as well.
Here are a few of my favorite items:
As you are preparing for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your baby will be the hardest, yet most rewarding thing you will do in your life.
There are many ways you can start preparing for breastfeeding as I have discussed with you, and I hope you will use some of these tips as you prepare for your breastfeeding journey.
This is an exciting time, mama! Always reach out for help if ever you have any questions or concerns.
You got this!
For More Tips While You are Preparing for Breastfeeding:
- Should you breastfeed your baby on a schedule?
- Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
- A New & Faster Way to Power Pump
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