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Preparing to Breastfeed

By Joanne Goldbort, PhD, MSN, RN

Preparing to Breastfeed

It’s smart to get prepared to breastfeed before baby arrives. Breastfeeding is a skill you learn by doing—both you and baby. Get ready for breastfeeding with these strategies, and remember, any amount of breastfeeding benefits your baby’s health—and yours too!

 

  1. Pick a pro-breastfeeding provider

Find a healthcare provider (pediatrician, family practice physician, nurse practitioner or midwife) for your baby who supports breastfeeding. The first few days post-birth are stressful—you’re elated and exhausted. Your milk supply is starting to come in. You and baby will need to work together until breastfeeding is going well. You’ll want a healthcare practitioner who is less inclined to supplement with or advise using formula unless medically needed.

 

  1. Politely decline formula samples

Prepare to say “no thank you” to any free formula samples. Should your baby require formula, you and your healthcare provider will discuss which one is most appropriate.

Some practices and hospitals will offer a “free” diaper bag with enclosed formula samples—keep the bag, as desired, and give a kind “no thank you” on the formula.

 

  1. Find a friendly birthplace to breastfeed

Learn what breastfeeding support is available where you plan to birth. For example does your facility have:

  • Lactation experts available?
  • Breastfeeding supplies, such as nursing bras or breast pumps?
  • BabyFriendly™ designation? This designation means the care providers are advocates of and prepared to help you with early breastfeeding.
  • Specific practices or policies about pacifiers (best delayed until baby is breastfeeding well) or supplementing with formula (best skipped)?
  • A lactation support group—or links to local groups? Attend before baby is born to connect with other nursing moms and gain confidence and information.
  • Breastfeeding classes? Plan to attend.

  1. Learn about breastfeeding

Read books, watch videos and attend local breastfeeding support groups. Look for materials created by healthcare experts, including lactation consultants.

 

  1. Manage potential challenges now

Tell family and friends you will need time alone with baby those first few days to make sure breastfeeding starts well. Ask them to support your efforts, keep visits short, and focus their support on things they can do for you while you’re nursing baby.

If you have inverted or flat nipples—or aren’t sure if you could have problems breastfeeding—now is the time to get help from your care provider or a lactation expert. Find a lactation consultant who is board certified through the International Lactation Consultant Association (ilca.org).

Are you expecting more than one baby?  A lactation consultant and a support group for moms of multiples are great resources for sharing experiences and healthy best tips.

 

Read our feature on Breastfeeding moms, here.

 

Joanne Goldbort, PhD, MSN, RN, is an assistant professor position at Michigan State University and an expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.


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