There is so much more to breastfeeding than bringing baby to the breast so they can eat. For such a natural process, it truly does take a lot of work, persistence, support, and breastfeeding education! There are many things you can and should do to prepare yourself for your breastfeeding journey. Many moms quit trying not just because it’s hard, but because it’s hard and they don’t feel empowered, determined, and supported. Use your time before your baby arrives to pack your proverbial “breastfeeding education” tool bag so that you will not be surprised by the challenges you may face.
As prepared as you can be mentally and emotionally for the journey ahead, there are a few tangible tools you will need as well so educating yourself on the purpose of a nipple shield and how you might use a breast pump are just as important!
Before you’re even close to having your baby, pick up a breastfeeding book! You don’t need to read every book on the market, because many of them will contain similar information. As you read it, know that later when you have your baby in your arms for the first time, the information you read will come flooding back to you and finally make sense.
- The Breastfeeding Book
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding Made Simple
- The Nursing Mothers Companion
If you’re having your baby at a hospital or birthing center, utilize them for their resources to help educate mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Many offer lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes, recommendations to websites, and informational books and pamphlets.
The most valuable resource you could glean from your hospital or birthing center is a Lactation Consultant – see Chapter 3 Preview: Lactation Consultants or Download SmartMom to receive the complete version of The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding.
La Leche League
La Leche League is an empowering organization started by 7 women with a call to action to change the norms of society in support of breastfeeding mothers. Search for a group near you: http://www.llli.org/webus.html
Local Milk Sharing
Human Milk for Human Babies is an organization that connects mothers who are in need of breastmilk with mothers who are willing to donate theirs! Keep this organization in mind once you have your baby and are in need of milk if breastfeeding isn’t going well. On the flip side, if your milk is coming in at full force and you’re filling a deep freezer, consider donating some to a local mother who needs your help!
Breastfeeding is so wonderful because it is essentially free! This is comforting and gives you a little extra room in your budget in order to get some convenience tools to make breastfeeding easier. While you can nurse your baby without fancy products, there are a variety helpful tools to make things more comfortable for mom and baby. Pillows, nursing wear, breast pumps, pads, and nipple creams are all going to become part of your vernacular as a nursing mommy.
The way you position the baby is key to establishing a good latch from the beginning. Breastfeeding pillows such as the Boppy, My Brest Friend, or Gia Angled Nursing Pillow are placed on your lap to give you a comfortable and secure place to rest the baby and your tired arms on while you’re settled in for long nursing sessions.
Whether you’re out in public or just over at a relatives house, there might be times when you want to feed the baby with a bit of privacy. Consider packing your diaper bag with a nursing cover and a Muslin swaddle blanket, which you can use to drape over your shoulder. Nursing covers, like Udder Covers, are great when you’ve got a tiny baby and you’re fiddling with her latch and need to cover up a bit. Be sure to check out Chapter 9 Preview: Breastfeeding in Public for more on this topic.
Nursing Tops & Bras
For the amount of time baby spends at the breast, it really is worth your money to get a couple of neutral nursing tops that you can wear with everything.
And don’t forget to wear your breast pads!
If you’re planning on going back to work, it is important to get a double electric pump if for pumping daily. The Medela Pump In Style is one of the best in efficiency and effectiveness, and the Medela Freestyle is another mom favorite. Be sure to purchase extra tubes because they do occasionally need to be replaced.
You can get something more basic like a single electric or manual pump, like Philips Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump. Manual pumps are great for times where you just need to express some milk while you’re away, and don’t want or need to invest in an electric pump.
Breast Pads: Lansinoh disposable pads, while those who don’t need as much protection can get by with washable cotton pads.
Your Lactation Consultant may even recommend a Nipple Shield if you’re having problems due to nipple shape or pain.
Your breastfeeding journey is a beautiful, natural process and although that may have felt like a lot to digest and prepare for, so much of breastfeeding is a learn-as-you-go relationship that will continue to grow and change as you and your baby grow and learn together. SmartMom is a community of 160,000 moms and growing. We have breastfeeding moms, formula feeding moms, pumping moms and everything in between. Download the SmartMom app to ask questions, lend advice, and get support 24-7 – even during those 4am feedings!