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If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you should know how to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy!
This is something I didn’t do and boy, did it suck!
Fortunately, there are some great resources out there for breastfeeding moms, but that doesn’t always make it feel any easier.
I think the hardest part about breastfeeding is probably how painful it can be to start out!
For myself, my son had latching issues thanks to a lip and tongue tie, but it’s pretty common to feel pain during the first couple of weeks regardless.
So, how the heck can a pregnant mama prepare for breastfeeding their baby?
Stick with me on this one as we’ll be covering some pretty important tips!
When does breastfeeding get easier?
You also might be wondering, if it starts off so difficult when the heck does breastfeeding get easier?
For me, the first 12 weeks were the hardest due to our complications.
However, for most moms, it’s pretty normal for things to feel easier around the 4-5 week mark!
One thing you should know, however, is even though breastfeeding might feel easier, you shouldn’t skimp on your nursing sessions!
That’s because “The first weeks with your baby are vital for establishing a good breast milk supply in the long term. The more frequently your baby breastfeeds, the more milk you’ll make, through a process of supply and demand.”, according to an article posted by Medela
7 Easy Ways for Mom to Prepare for Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
1 – EDUCATE yourself on learning to breastfeed
Seriously, educating yourself on this topic is hands down the BEST thing you can do to prepare yourself!
You might be wondering, how can I educate myself on breastfeeding when I’m already here trying to learn about it?!
Well, here are my top tips to help you educate yourself for breastfeeding:
- Take an online or in-person breastfeeding class! If you need some recommendations for an online class, I hands down recommend Milkology! Milkology comes in 3 classes (Nursing your baby, Exclusively Pumping and Pumping while Returning to Work)
- Find yourself a lactation consultant that way if you have questions or problems along the way, you can have a trained individual who can help you overcome these struggles!
2 – Understand the different breastfeeding positions.
Did you know there are over TEN breastfeeding positions you can use to nurse your baby?!
I had no idea there were so many ways to nurse a baby when I started. Come to find out, my son did develop a preference for enjoying the cradle hold along with the side-lying position!
The cradle hold is when you’re seated in an upright position, typically using a breastfeeding pillow to help support baby, while your baby is positioned facing you, with their head towards the crease of your supporting arm’s elbow.
The side-lying hold was also one of my favorite positions because I was able to lay down, duh! With this position, you simply lay on one side facing your baby (belly to belly), latch baby and you’re good to go! I did struggle to position my breast close enough for him to latch onto at first, but once we figured it out this position is golden!
As I mentioned, these are just 2 of our favorites, to see a FULL LIST of breastfeeding positions to try out with your little baby, check out this helpful post by Medela!
3 – Have a good quality breast pump on hand JUST IN CASE!
Even if you’re planning to strictly nurse your baby, you never can be too prepared! Some babies end up with latching issues, difficulty nursing due to an overproduction of mom’s milk, or even in rare cases, not able to tolerate mama’s liquid gold!
Most insurances now offer coverage for breast pumps, so if you haven’t inquired, nows a great time to do so!
There’s usually an option to rent a pump if you need to or you can just purchase one yourself (or add it to your baby registry!).
Quick mom tip, most baby registries will send you a coupon to save anywhere from 10-20% off any REMAINING items on your registry, so if you have a pump you’ve been wanting, that’s an easy way to snag a few bucks off!
RECOMMENDED POST: Breastfeeding Tips for Beginners
4 – Expect to feel some discomfort.
You may have already heard that breastfeeding doesn’t tend to start off easily. In fact, it can be pretty painful!
But don’t worry mama, the pain is usually just due to your nipples adjusting to becoming a constant food source, which will subside over a few days to a couple of weeks.
You may also notice heaviness or fullness in your breasts as your milk comes in, again, this is very normal.
In the meantime, you can use things like some Earth Mama Nipple Butter (my personal favorite) to soothe those dry achy nipples or Earth Mama Booby Tubes to provide some nice warm compression to soothe any discomfort.
If you begin to feel a lot of pain that isn’t going away, worsening, or any other symptoms that aren’t resolving – you should definitely seek support from your medical provider or lactation consultant as that isn’t normal.
In fact, be sure to stock up on these items LONG BEFORE your baby arrives! There’s nothing worse than having chapped nipples with nothing to help relieve them (yup, did that!).
5 – Stock up on quality nursing bras/tops.
That’s right, having a couple of super soft and cozy nursing (or pumping) bras can make the world of a difference when those boobs are sore & achy!
What I like to look for is support without the compression of wires, high-quality material that won’t rub and irritate my already sensitive skin (those nipples girl!), and something that also won’t cost a fortune!
Below are a few of my personal favorite Nursing/Pumping bras created with comfort, design, and affordability in mind!
6 – Be prepared to nurse often. Very often!
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are CRUCIAL to establishing your breastmilk supply.
You’ll want to be sure to feed your baby on demand or at least every 2 hours during those early days to get that supply in and maintained!
One of my all-time favorite breastfeeding resource pages, Kelly Mom, has an incredible article all about building and maintaining your breastmilk supply during the early weeks that’s worth the read!
A few ways you can be extra prepared for nursing often is to:
- Set up a nursing station at home where you’ll be comfortable, keep your nursing pillow & pump close by, have some water and snacks on hand (because let me tell you, breastfeeding will make you VERY hungry and thirsty!)
- Keep a portable night light close by in case you end up nursing in bed, in the nursery or in any room during night feeds!
- Order your breastfeeding supplies LONG BEFORE baby arrives (milk storage bags, nipple butter, warm/cool packs, pump supplies, etc…)
7 – Understand breastfeeding is a supply and demand process.
To build on top of the last point, you’ll want to make sure you understand HOW breastmilk is triggered to produce.
To put it simply, breastfeeding is a SUPPLY & DEMAND process.
Full breasts = NO demand,
Empty Breasts = HIGH DEMAND.
So, your goal should be to empty your breasts often AND efficiently in order to maintain your supply for your growing baby as the months go on!
This is especially important for those with a long term breastfeeding goal in mind.
You might even find that you run into small bumps along the road such as a nursing strike (when your baby refuses to nurse) or when your period comes back that could temporarily lower your supply, but with consistent nursing/pumping, you should be able to make it through!
If you ever are worried you’re experiencing a low milk supply, I’d really suggest discussing with your doctor or a lactation consultant as soon as possible to find a resolution fast!
RECOMMENDED POST: Tips for Exclusively Pumping Mamas
There you have it, my TOP TIPS on ‘How to Prepare for Breastfeeding During Pregnancy’!
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