Breastfeeding seminars

7 breastfeeding tips to set you up for success

You’ve done your research and decided you want to try breastfeeding your baby, great! Now what? The next step is not always clear. Are you a planner with a stack of books and a list of recommended items? Or are you calm knowing that people have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time and are you sure that breastfeeding will happen naturally? As an International Board-certified lactation consultant with over a decade of experience and author of two books on breastfeeding, to maximize the chances of reaching your feeding goals, I generally recommend taking a few of the two approaches. Whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced parent, prepare for breastfeeding success by taking the following steps before your baby arrives.

Here are 7 tips to prepare you and your baby for breastfeeding success:

1. Learn the basics

Sign up to take a prenatal breastfeeding class. The ideal time is around the beginning of your third trimester. Ask your friends for class recommendations because there are many types of prenatal breastfeeding classes available. Want to attend a great community class in person? Or are you more interested in a virtual classroom that you can join from your living room?

In addition to learning the basics of breastfeeding, a prenatal breastfeeding class will also teach you how to solve common problems.

If possible, bring your partner or a support person to class with you. Not only will they learn the basics of breastfeeding alongside you, but taking the course together also allows you to form a team and be on the same page.

Related: Top 50 breastfeeding tips, according to lactation experts

2. Talk to your partner about your breastfeeding goals

The best plans involve teamwork! After your prenatal breastfeeding class, sit down and discuss your breastfeeding goals and feeding logistics. Consider how nighttime feedings will be handled, when to introduce a bottle, when your partner will return to work, who will wash the bottles/parts of the breast pump, who will prepare the meals, and how you will both find time to rest . A common challenge that many new parents share is dealing with sleep deprivation. They are often surprised at the time spent feeding the baby. Creating a plan ahead of time that incorporates your goals will make those first few weeks much more manageable.

3. Buy the essentials

Good news! You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to breastfeed, but there are a few breastfeeding essentials you’ll want to have on hand before baby arrives.

Above all, I recommend a high-quality double electric breast pump. The ideal time to order your breast pump is after you have had your prenatal breastfeeding class and before the baby arrives. You want to give yourself time to sanitize the parts, put it together, and get familiar with how it works.

Related: 13 Pumping Essentials Every Mom Should Know

The Affordable Care Act requires your medical insurance company to provide you with a breast pump. You can order your pump by calling the customer service number on the back of your insurance card or by going directly to a pump supplier like The Lactation Network and submitting your insurance information.

You will also need bottles with slow flow nipples, a nursing pillow, breastmilk storage bags, and hydrogel pads or cream for sore nipples. Consider setting up a nursing station with a large bottle of water and easy-to-grab snacks.

4. Find your community

The first few weeks with a newborn can be exhausting and lonely. Planning ahead allows you to lean on others when you need them most.

Look for breastfeeding support groups in your community, join new parenting groups online, find local parks where new parents hang out, and research local baby classes you can attend once you and your whole -little will be ready to go out.

Being part of these communities will help reduce your anxiety, give you a place to seek advice and support, and can lead to lifelong friendships.

5. Connect with an IBCLC

You have assembled your team: your OB or midwife, pediatrician, and maybe even a birthing and/or postpartum doula.

But did you know that studies show parents who work with IBCLCs, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, are more than four times more likely to exclusively breastfeed their child at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months?

Connecting with a lactation consultant before birth is an important step you can take to set yourself up for breastfeeding success. IBCLCs are highly trained medical specialists who are trained in breastfeeding education and support. They are an essential member of your healthcare team, triaging your breastfeeding challenges and providing care plans to help you reach your feeding goals.

Related: Baby feeding tips

Before your baby arrives, schedule a prenatal visit with a local IBCLC. (The prenatal consultation, as well as breastfeeding consultations when the baby arrives can be covered by your insurance! Insurance coverage varies, so consider contacting your insurance company ahead of time to confirm coverage before your appointment.

During the prenatal breastfeeding consultation, your lactation consultant will take your medical history, discuss your breastfeeding goals, answer your breastfeeding questions, review your feeding equipment, provide local resources and create a general plan for the arrival of the baby.

Once your baby is here, you will meet with your consultant again to assess feeding, assess challenges, ask questions, and create a more personalized plan. Your lactation consultant will become a trusted and indispensable member of your team, taking care of you and your baby from first intake to weaning.

6. Collect resources and make connections

In the time you have left, consider learning more about breastfeeding by following IBCLCs on social media, watching videos on how to assemble and use your chosen breast pump and browsing online breastfeeding communities.

Connect with other pregnant families in person and online. Using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, and apps like MeetUp and Peanut, you can meet parents who have babies your age, live in your community, or share common interests. Interested in a date at the park with little ones? There are surely other local families who are too! Getting out of the house, making new friends, and having plans to accomplish will help you manage stress and make your days more enjoyable.

Related: What Do Pregnant Moms Really Need To Sign Up For? Much more postpartum support

7. Take advantage of this moment

In the hustle and bustle of all these exciting preparations, don’t forget to set aside time to relax and take care of yourself before your baby arrives. Consider having a “babymoon,” a special time for you and your partner to connect. If you’re not ready for a big trip (understandable!), book a relaxing weekend at a local hotel or plan a day trip somewhere special. If staying home makes you feel good, set aside time to read a good book, go to the movies, get a prenatal massage, or meet a friend for lunch.

Breastfeeding may go smoothly when your baby arrives, or you may experience some difficulties, but remember that you have taken important steps to ensure you are well prepared. You have a team by your side, and they’re ready to support you every step of your food journey.

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