Breastfeeding is a natural process. Even if you or your baby struggle with it at first, you should both adapt once you’ve established a routine.
But that said, there are a few things you can do before you give birth to help prepare you for breastfeeding. Plus, there are a few things you can do after your baby’s born to help you both adapt quickly and easily.
Preparing For Breastfeeding
You can make some of these preparations – such as stocking up on essentials – the moment you find out you’re pregnant. But there’s no rush. You can wait until your third trimester before you start preparing for breastfeeding.
Learn the Basics
If this is your first pregnancy, then you might have lots of questions about breastfeeding. You might not know quite what to expect – what it will feel like, what sort of challenges you might face, and what sort of benefits it will bring to you and your baby.
So to begin with, do your research. You’ll find loads of online guides introducing you to the breastfeeding basics, and these will help you get a better idea of what sort of preparations you might need to make.
You’ll also find a few guides to breastfeeding in our Real Parenting blog:
- What is the let-down reflex when breastfeeding?
- Why does my other breast leak when I’m breastfeeding?
Get Some Support
Talk to your doctor or midwife about breastfeeding. They should be able to answer any questions you might have. They may also recommend a breastfeeding support group, and a lactation consultant. In this way, you’ll have all the support you need throughout your pregnancy, and in the precious early days of your baby’s life.
Also be sure to talk to your friends and family. Anyone with children of their own may have lots of breastfeeding tips to share with you.
What Breastfeeding Equipment Do I Need?
You don’t need loads of specialist equipment to breastfeed. But there’s a few things you can buy in advance that will make things a little easier:
- Breast pump – You may need to pump some breast milk from time-to-time. It’s a way of releasing some excess milk, which you can then save for your baby later. Some mums also exclusively use breast pumps to feed their babies.
- Clothing – You can buy nursing clothing specifically designed to make breastfeeding easier. They’re usually loose-fitting and front-opening to allow you to feed your baby, wherever you are. You may also want to stock up on some additional dark layers, cardigans or patterned tops, as you can use these to disguise any leaks that might occur when you’re nursing.
- Breast pads – It’s normal for milk to leak from your other breast when you’re feeding. You may also experience some leaks even when you’re not nursing. Some mums use breast pads to absorb leaks when they’re breastfeeding. Take a look at our range of comfortable, absorbent, and eco-friendly reusable breast pads.
Head here to read our full guide to when you should start buying baby stuff. Our guide contains tips on what you might need to buy, and when you might need to buy it.
Do I Need To Prepare My Body For Breastfeeding?
No. As we said above, breastfeeding is a completely natural process. Throughout your pregnancy, your body will already be preparing for breastfeeding. There’s no need to do anything to help it prepare.
If you’re concerned about anything that you think might make breastfeeding difficult, then talk to your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant.
Also, some women start producing breastmilk from their second trimester. You might be tempted to start pumping breastmilk before birth. But this isn’t the best idea. Stimulating your nipples during pregnancy can trigger the release of oxytocin, and this hormone can cause contractions. So in some cases, pumping before birth can lead to a premature labour.
Preparing For Breastfeeding After Your Baby’s Born
Immediately after you give birth, make skin-to-skin contact with your baby on your bare chest.
If you’ve had a C-section, your midwife will be able to give you the extra support you need to safely place your baby on your chest.
Holding your baby close against your chest will awaken their feeding instincts. They should start to feed naturally, when they’re ready.
It’s a good idea to start breastfeeding within the first two hours of giving birth, as this may make it easier for you and your baby to quickly build up a good feeding routine.