PREPARING TO BREASTFEED: There is absolutely nothing you need to do to prepare for breastfeeding before your baby is born. However, here are some things you might want to take care of before your baby arrives.
Inform your obstetrician or midwife of your plans to breastfeed.
This will help to ensure minimal separation from your baby after the birth. If you’ve had previous breast surgery of any type (implants, reduction, biopsy), let your obstetrician or midwife know and contact a lactation consultant before baby arrives.
Find a pediatrician who is supportive of and knowledgeable about breastfeeding.
This will help to ensure you get the support you and your baby need throughout your breastfeeding journey.
Decide where you will birth your baby.
Many moms deliver in a hospital, but more and more are delivering at a birth center or in their own homes. If you are planning to deliver in a hospital, ask them ahead of time about their rooming-in policy and whether they offer in-hospital and postpartum breastfeeding support.
Check with your insurance company regarding lactation visits and pump purchases.
Many insurance companies cover lactation support and pump rentals or purchases, but it’s a good idea to call yours ahead of time and ask about the particular plan’s coverage. Also, ask about the different pump options so you can research them ahead of time.
Do some research on local lactation consultants.
The most knowledgeable and experienced lactation consultants have earned the degree of IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). You can find referrals for local lactation consultants through your hospital or birthing center, your obstetrician, your pediatrician, mom’s groups, and online at ILCA (www.ilca.org).
Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class/support group with your partner or a support person.
Prenatal breastfeeding classes are offered through local hospitals or childbirth education centers. If possible, attend a breastfeeding support group meeting, such as those offered by La Leche League (www.llli.org) while pregnant. There, you can witness other moms breastfeeding and learn from their experiences.
Join a local Mothers’/Parents’ club.
Search for clubs in your area and check out their websites ahead of time. You can often join a playgroup through the club for babies born around the same time as yours. Most playgroups have an online chat forum and weekly playdates at a member’s home or at a park.
Think ahead about visitors.
Give some thought ahead of time about when you will accept visitors once your baby has arrived. Communicate your desires to your loved ones before baby arrives, to set expectations. You will never get this precious time alone with your newborn again, so don’t feel shy about setting firm boundaries.
Breastfeeding Items for Your Delivery Bag
These are a few things you might consider bringing to the hospital/birth center to ease your initial breastfeeding experience, though none of these is required for initial breastfeeding success: breastfeeding pillow, nursing/sleep bras, nipple soothing cream, and breast pads.
Tracey Jedrzejek, MA, IBCLC
Private practice lactation consultant (www.traceylactation.com)
Author of “Latch Baby – Illustrated Guide to Breastfeeding Success”