The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants for the first six months of life1 as breastfeeding offers many benefits to both mothers and babies2.
If you are planning to breastfeed, it is extremely important to prepare for it during your last month of pregnancy. The reason is that most first-time moms are not aware of the potential challenges — which are actually very common. A study published by the NIH found that roughly 70% of mothers experienced breastfeeding difficulties3.
While breastfeeding is natural, it requires learning, practice, patience, and lots of support tailored to both baby and mom. Here’s how to get ready during pregnancy,
- Do your research
- Take prenatal breastfeeding classes
- Connect with a Lactation Consultant/Counselor
- List and prepare the items you may need to comfortably breastfeed
- Make your postpartum care plan
Do your research on breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is an investment in your and your baby’s health. Like any other investment, it helps to begin earlier than later. If you haven’t done so already, the third trimester is a great time to start.
Once you know the benefits as well as potential challenges, you can set realistic expectations, make informed decisions, and make important preparations that are easier to do a bit earlier. One great way to start is by watching other moms breastfeed, either your friends/family or by watching breastfeeding videos.
Armed with the right questions, you can work with your healthcare provider, partner, family, and workplace to create a support system to meet your breastfeeding goals.
Here are some great resources:
Take prenatal breastfeeding classes:
Prenatal breastfeeding classes can lay a strong foundation for successfully initiating and continuing nursing. According to the National Institutes of Health, women who attended prenatal breastfeeding classes experienced significantly more successful breastfeeding at 6 months4
- Healthcare providers and the community should inform parents of the realities of postpartum life and how having a good support system can help with the transition
- Parents should evaluate their available support system and plan on hiring service providers such as Doulas, Lactation Consultants, Sleep Consultants and other Postpartum support services for guidance and support during the transition
A good prenatal breastfeeding class should cover,
- How breast milk production works
- How to best initiate breastfeeding at your hospital/birthing center
- How to have a good latch
- Various breastfeeding positions
- How to know if baby is getting enough milk
- How to protect your milk supply
- Various ways to pump and store breast milk
- How to enlist your partner and family in supporting breastfeeding
- Common breastfeeding challenges and how to handle them
- Resources for supporting breastfeeding
Connect with a Lactation Consultant/Counselor:
Lactation Consultants/Counselors are professionals in lactation counseling. They have the skills and knowledge to provide clinical breastfeeding counseling, evidence-based information and support. A good Lactation Consultant/Counselor can be your best friend and a crucial resource in your breastfeeding journey. From learning about breastfeeding positions to challenges with milk supply, Lactation Consultant/Counselors can support you with all aspects of breastfeeding. Ask your Ob/Gyn or got to Newmom.me to find one.
Prepare a list of items you may need to comfortably breastfeed:
Setting up a comfortable corner to breastfeed, with easy access to all the breastfeeding essentials can prevent a lot of last-minute stress and hassle. Here are some essentials that can make breastfeeding more comfortable and convenient:
- Breastfeeding space, static or rolling
- Nursing bra
- Nursing pillows
- Nursing tops
- Nursing covers
- Nipple creams
- Breast pump (Research these beforehand. Ask your insurance if they provide breast pumps or cover the costs)
- Other pre/postpartum care products
Make your postpartum care plan:
During pregnancy most activities focus on the medical wellbeing of the baby and mother, so guidance around postpartum care can take a back seat — and many mothers learn the hard way what it's really like to care for a newborn.
A postpartum care plan can make a huge difference. And because it can take time to coordinate family helpers and if appropriate find a great provider who is available when and where you need them, it is crucial for parents to begin the process as early as possible.
- Research which services, products, and classes you may need for your postpartum care, and where in your community to find them
- Build your support network by talking to your family, friends and joining local support groups
- Discuss with your Ob-Gyn on if f you are taking any medication(s) or treatments, had any breast surgery or injury as that can impact your breastfeeding
- If he/she collaborates or works with a Lactation Specialist or can suggest one
At Newmom.me, we’re here to transform the motherhood narrative and make this process of finding support so much easier on you. We have a carefully curated, easy-to-use, and customizable platform where you can search by the type of service you need, location, and availability. You can easily sign up to review profiles of Lactation Consultants, Doulas, Mother’s helpers, and other services. Let us help you embrace motherhood with a full heart.