Getting the Best Possible Start with Breastfeeding
You can begin to prepare to breastfeed during your pregnancy!
If you are expecting a baby, you can begin to prepare now. Probably the most important thing you can do is to surround yourself with a team that believes in breastfeeding. If you don’t have supportive friends or family, you may want to consider joining a local group such a La Leche League or a Facebook group such as Simply Breastfeeding Moms.
You can learn more about preparing to breastfeed during pregnancy here.
Consider the early weeks the 4th trimester.
Your baby is new and completely dependent upon you. Snuggle your baby skin to skin as much as possible to help him transition gently to the outside world. Get as much help with your other responsibilities as possible. Freeing yourself from company and other tasks will allow you to focus on breastfeeding and getting extra rest. For other tips on surviving the newborn period, see this post.
Getting a comfortable position for breastfeeding.
There is no one “right position” for breastfeeding. The best position is one that is comfortable for you and your baby. Many women find that laidback nursing is the most comfortable. You can see photos and descriptions of some breastfeeding positions you may like in this post.
Getting a comfortable latch.
“Latch” refers to the way the baby’s mouth attaches to the breast. Babies should feed on the breast and not on the nipple. If baby is only attached to the nipple, it can cause pain and baby won’t be able to extract milk as effectively. To learn more about latching your baby comfortably, see this post.
In the early days, some mothers may struggle to latch their baby if their breasts are overly full. This post explains a simple way to soften the breasts so that baby can latch.
Breastfeed often and on demand.
The best way to have an excellent milk supply is to breastfeed often, whenever baby seems hungry. It is not unusual for a newborn to feed 8 -10 times or more in 24 hours.
Breasts usually feel quite soft for the first 2-3 days after birth. The milk at this time is called colostrum. It is thick and golden and full of antibodies. Around 2 – 3 days after birth, breasts gradually become heavier and the milk becomes a more whitish color, resembling skim milk.
If you find yourself needing to increase your milk supply, information in this post may help.
Ask for help if you are struggling.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, look for an IBCLC in your area. Ask your healthcare provider for contact information if needed. Many areas also have La Leche groups available for breastfeeding support.
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.