Prepare to Breast Feed Your Babyby Teresa Shaw | March 31, 2008 12:00 AM
Breastfeeding your baby can be a rewarding experience for you both. Not only are you providing essential nutrients, but the act of breastfeeding is a bonding experience like no other. If you have decided that you will breastfeed your new baby, there are some things you can do while you are still pregnant to prepare.
During your third trimester, learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Talk to friends or family members about their experiences and get advice and tips. Read up on breastfeeding by visiting your local library and browsing the stacks of breastfeeding books (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International and The Baby Book by William Sears, MD, and Martha Sears, RN, IBCLC, are two excellent resources). Also, sign up to take a breastfeeding class — most hospitals offer birthing classes that teach breastfeeding techniques — or contact a local lactation consultant for a one-on-one tutorial.
You can also attend a La Leche League meeting if there is one in your area. It will give you the opportunity to meet mothers who are currently breastfeeding, and will be an excellent source of information and support after your baby is born. Visit LLI.org for details on meetings, as well as information on breastfeeding including articles, a mother-to-mother forum, and podcasts.
Create a Relaxing Environment
Breastfeeding should be a soothing and relaxing time you share with your baby. Create a spot in the house where you can put your feet up and rest in a comfortable chair while your baby eats. A comfortable environment will mean that both you and baby are relaxed and not stressed, making breastfeeding easier for you both.
You may also want to buy a nursing pillow to raise baby up to the correct position and make breastfeeding easier on your back. Baby stores carry the Boppy and/or Brest Friend nursing pillows. Try each one on, and see which one feels more comfortable and fits you best. Be sure to purchase an extra cover for your nursing pillow, so when one gets wet or dirty it can easily be replaced with a fresh one.
Build a Support Network
Talk to your spouse or partner, pediatrician, nurse practitioner or ob/gyn and others in your network about your choice to breastfeed. Make sure you have a supportive of and enthusiastic network of people who can answer your questions and provide support.
Prepare Yourself Physically
Experts now agree that "toughening your nipples" by rubbing them is not necessary and may actually cause uterine contractions that can stress the baby. However, you should avoid using soaps or lotions on your breasts and nipples, and other irritating or drying agents, during the last weeks of pregnancy and while you are nursing.
If you have flat or inverted nipples, you can still breastfeed successfully. However, there are some things you might want to do to make things easier for you and your baby, such as breast shields or massage. If you think that you have inverted nipples, talk to your nurse or ob/gyn or contact a lactation resource such as LaLeche League for advice and tips for breastfeeding success.
Stock up on Supplies
There are a few essentials that breastfeeding mothers should have. First, you will need a few nursing bras. These will provide the extra support you will need, and have handy flaps that can easily be undone at feeding times. During your last few weeks of pregnancy, visit a department store and get fitted for a nursing bra.
Second, stock up on breast pads to prevent embarrassing leaks. Another baby's cries or the sight of an infant can stimulate milk flow when you least expect it. Nursing pads can help prevent leaks and stains on your clothing.
Third, if you will be going back to work but wish to continue breastfeeding, or if you will be traveling without your baby, a breast pump is essential. By pumping breast milk, you will keep your supply up and also keep your baby on a milk-rich diet. You can also use a pump to increase your milk supply. Find out more about choosing a pump and pumping breast milk.
Breastfeeding is a rewarding and joyful experience, and can be accomplished with a little advanced planning and preparation.Teresa Shaw is a professional editor and freelance writer with a degree in English and journalism. She writes about motherhood, travel, and cooking, among other topics, for a variety of print and online markets. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, two cats, and dog.
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