How to Prepare for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be a daunting experience. There’s no training – you have to learn on the job. You don’t arrive for your first day feeling fresh and smart, you are exhausted from labour and probably look as far from smart as you could imagine. To top it off, your boss is a tiny human whose only communication is crying. It’s no wonder you’re feeling stressed and terrified, that’s natural. Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for breastfeeding:

  1. Know your stuff – obviously you can’t try breastfeeding until the baby arrives, but you can educate yourself. There are plenty of DVDs, online videos, and informative articles filled with tips and hints on how to breastfeed. You don’t need to memorise all the information you can find online, but it doesn’t hurt to arm yourself with a bit of background knowledge. If nothing else, the information you find about the benefits of breastfeeding may empower you to keep trying in the early days.
  2. Prepare yourself – most women find breastfeeding hard work at the beginning. Some babies struggle to latch correctly, some women find the long hours exhausting, and others find the let down painful. Prepare yourself that it might be a tough few weeks, but that once you work through the hard part, it should get easier.
  3. Support system – you’ll need a support system in place during the first few exhausting weeks of breastfeeding. If you have any friends or family members who have breastfed, or who will support you to breastfeed, then you should look to them for support. Avoid the people who will tell you to formula feed your baby if this isn’t what you want to hear.
  4. Stock up – nipple cream is a useful item to have in the house during those early weeks. You may also find a breastfeeding pillow helps you to get the baby in the best position to latch on. See if you can borrow a breastfeeding pillow from a friend to save money.
  5. Set up a breastfeeding station – for this, you’ll need a DVD box set or selection of films, your smartphone or tablet, magazines, books and whatever else you may need to stay entertained during the early weeks. You may find yourself set up in the early hours because babies tend to be nocturnal for the first couple of weeks, so make sure you have plenty of entertainment to hand. You may also benefit from keeping a bottle of water and some snacks at your breastfeeding station, as well as blanket and pillows for comfort.
  6. Utilise your other half – ask your partner to support you during breastfeeding. This could mean offering moral support, or it could be physically running round the house getting you drinks and food while you breastfeed. You will find you are hungrier and thirstier than usual during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. During the early days, you could be feeding for up to eight hours a day, so ask your partner to take on extra duties around the house during this time.
  7. Learn the cues – latching on is more difficult when the baby is crying, so try to breastfeed before your baby starts screaming. Early feeding cues include opening or licking their lips, sucking on fingers, tongue, hands. Other cues include rooting for a nipple, repositioning for feeding, pulling at your top and fidgeting. If you offer the breast when you see any of these cues, you will avoid the hunger cries that can make feeding more difficult.
  8. Get help – lots of women struggle with breastfeeding, please don’t feel embarrassed to get help. Your local hospital should have a lactation consultant on staff who will be able to offer help and advice to aid your breastfeeding. The lactation consultant will be able to diagnose any feeding problems and help you to overcome them.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockHow to Prepare for Breastfeeding

Comments 13

  1. Pingback: How to Buy a Maternity Bra - Health & Parenting

  2. Pingback: Preparing for Breastfeeding: How much milk will my newborn need? - Health & Parenting

  3. Ama

    Breast feeding was a nightmare for me . My son wouldn’t latch properly and I got thrush on my nipples and he got thrush in the mouth . I would lye awake at night crying in pain nothing worked tried nipple creams . Called midwifes out bf support workers etc . I then resorted to expressing and bottle feeding from a bottle I was crazy I would work out baby times and set an alarm wake 40 mins earlier to express … then feed burp change then express it was non stop … I read the book breast is best attended classes had tips from friends who BF for ages … a lot of pressure on me I felt from others family etc..midwifes was putting pressure on I felt so guilty but in the end my milk supply dwindled down as sole expressing and I had to put baby on formula around 6-8 weeks after birth … it was around 4 months old little one diagnosed with asthma and skin conditions .., now pregnant with no 2 massively feeling pressure again but so much harder as my toddler is very demanding …

  4. Lisa

    With my first I breastfed until he was about one year old. He gradually weaned himself. For the first few weeks he got supplementary formula as well. We spent a few days in nicu after birth and they helped me/us. They also said that a lot of moms don’t have enough milk the first days or weeks. We didn’t use a bottle but a small mug so he would know the difference. It was obvious when I had enough milk because he didn’t want the formula then.
    BF may be a little tough sometimes but it’s very convenient and absolutely worth it if you can do it. It’s always with you and right temperature. And also very cozy. You feel very close to your little one.
    It was also great the few times he got sick and didn’t eat or drink much else. And the time we had a long flight overseas. BF made that trip so much easier.
    Give it a serious try!

  5. Mayra

    This will be my 4th child that we are expecting and this morning I woke up with my shirt wet on my left side? That has never happened to me before, I am 30 weeks pregnant and my due date is not till August 9th…is this normal or some kind of early birth sign? I had a dr. Appt. Yesterday and everything was fine, has anybody had this happened to them before?

  6. Jayne

    Some of the best pre baby advice I got when I was pregnant with my first was to read a book on breastfeeding. Knowledge is power, and I found the book I read to be extremely helpful. Even though I’ve already done it once before and had a great experience breastfeeding my first child, I plan on studying up again this second time around.

  7. Jessica

    Breastfeed IS hard. And the fact is, it shouldn’t be. The whole reason we have breasts is to feed our baby. Why does something that is a natural thing to do so hard?

  8. katie

    here is what ‘breastfeeding advocates and sometimes down right bullies’ don’t tell you. … 3% of women will be completely physically incapable of breastfeeding. if breastfeeding is something you truly want for your child, and like me you are one of those 3%, you will feel like a failure and you may well face judgemental professionals and the like when you make the only option you have to switch to formula feeding. I am about to have my third baby and I know that due to a lack of lactation tissue, I will have no choice but to supliment feed for the first week before switching completely to formula. I have to protect myself from over zealous midwives in hospital with the breast is the best attitude in order to stop my baby from starving as both his sisters did- each dropped around 20% of their birth weight before I had to give up trying as we were all unaware as to the lactation tissue issue.

  9. Janina

    Until I read so many posts about how hard breastfeeding is, I never worried about it. I asked all my female family members and except for my grandma, who did not have enough milk, they all told me it was the most easy and natural thing in the world. So I decided I’ll just listen to my “instincts” and IF I run into any troubles, I’ll find a way to deal with them rathen than to worry about unspilled milk already. 🙂

  10. Lindsey

    I’m an Internation Board Certified Lactation Consultant and I found this article to be better than most written on the same topic. There are many things to know when it comes to breastfeeding, taking a class taught by an IBCLC and aligning your support system before hand can make all the difference.

    * If you have a husband or other support person, have them educated themselves on the topic along with you. Most partners are supportive of their ladies when it comes to breastfeeding because they hear it’s best but they typically do not know HOW to be supportive or WHY they’re being supportive.

    *There are endless myths and misconceptions when it comes to breastfeeding information and more importantly, breastfeeding management. Women need to make themselves aware of as many of these as possible

    *****Your doctor is not likely to know much about breastfeeding management. Doctors are extremely important healthcare professionals obviously and there is a lot they need to be experts on. They can recognize illness and save the life of you and/or your babe. However, that does not make them breastfeeding professionals. It can take years of full-time work to become an IBCLC and while it’s important for IBCLCs to work with doctors and respect their role, the IBCLC is the breastfeeding expert, not the physician. This is extremely important. I work with thousands of breastfeeding women and the large majority of then have had experiences with physicians that negatively influenced their breastfeeding outcomes. In many cases the relationship was unable to be salvaged. Of course there are many amazing doctors who are pioneers in the breastfeeding field. I’m making a very generalized statement. If your doctor doesn’t seem well versed in breastfeeding but tells you that is the case and/or refers you to an IBCLC- that is actually a lot better than the alternative. It breaks my heart when breastfeeding doesn’t work out because of poor information and sadly this happens all the time.

    *Breatfeeding problems are extremely time sensitive and a small issue can snowball into a larger one. At the first sign of trouble call an IBCLC.

    *Be aware of formula marketing. Formula is a sometimes necessary and life saving tool. It is not poison and it can help to grow happy, healthy, intelligent children. With that being said, formula marketing is extremely predatory and is something that some professionals feel so strongly about that their are books written on the topic, courses taught, and documentaries. Formula is a multi-billion dollar industry. If it relied solely on the women who really needed it or truly wanted it, it would not be such a profitable industry. The bulk of formula income is comprised of women who had they had the proper education and support, would have been able to breastfeed. Most formula companies have Breatfeeding hotlines you can call 24/7. They “help” you and then send formula samples to your home. In the states most women receive formula at their doorstep as a “gift for new mothers.” Having formula in your home when you’re trying to breastfeed can be like having ice cream on your night stand when you’re trying to diet. 90% of families will use the formula by 6 weeks post partum. Again, this is not about the formula itself or the loving mamas who use it. It’s about the extremely influential level of their marketing tactics. Look around you… you may see things in a new perspective especially while watching their commercials or seeing how many ads pop up while you’re surfing the net if you’re in the states. Most countries abide by the WHO code of ethics for formula marketing but our moms and babes in the states are not protected the same way.

    *As in other fields, their are many different levels of certification that can make you a “professional.” When it comes to breastfeeding, you’ll really want to see an IBCLC as it’s the “masers degree” of breastfeeding professionals vs someone who has the equilavlent of an associates degree or an online course. Many formula companies make their sales reps “breastfeeding professionals” and I’ve experienced many mothers think they’re being seen by an LC (IBCLC) only to have been seen by a CLC who also happens to be a formula sales rep.

  11. Jess

    It sure would be nice if there was good/positive information or stories about breastfeeding every now and then.

    Every article or blog tells how exhausting and hard it is. How it’s such a struggle, how most moms want to give up…. It’s kind of discouraging.

    I formula fed my first 3 partly for these reasons. This time I’m going to BF but absolutely hate reading articles and stories about how difficult and draining it is. Hey guess what?!?!? So is formula feeding, mother’s that FF don’t just stick a bottle in their baby’s mouth and ride the easy train! There are many issues and feeding problems you can run into. Babies in general can be exhausting so why not be positive and motivating? Why not post stories of mothers that didn’t have many issues BF because they are out there.

  12. Amy

    I was told to use Lanolin proactively a few weeks before my due date. I used it one to two times per day and I think it helped to prepare my nipples for breast feeding. The last thing you want is sore or bloody nipples. You’re already healing from the pain of childbirth and engorgement. No need to subject yourself to any more pain unnecessarily!

Leave a reply

You do not have to leave an email address in order to reply.

We welcome and value your opinions, and encourage you to comment on our blog posts! Before posting a comment, please read through and observe the following comment guidelines:

  • We support lively debate and opposing opinions are welcome. We ask, however, all users who post in the blog remain courteous, polite, and respectful to other users.
  • Please keep all comments on-topic and relevant to the original post.
  • Please do not post comments containing profanity, obscenity, hate speech, defamation, abuse, harassment, or solicitations of any kind.

The moderators of the Health & Parenting, Ltd. blog reserve the right to remove comments we feel do not adhere to these guidelines or are not in the best interest of Health & Parenting Ltd.