How to Prepare for Breastfeeding 

There are many ways to get ready for breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Many parents make a list of things to purchase, but the truth is that not much needs to be done to get ready! Finding a support group ahead of time filled with like minded parents is useful. Some people like breastfeeding pillows but they are not really a necessity. Its nice to have a selection of items like nipple balms, or breastpumps, and breastfeeding gear but you really just need a comfortable place to sit with your baby and a small pillow for your lap. Every year it seems like the list of “must-haves” grows, and it can feel like you are missing out if you can’t afford fancy items and bottles. So I compiled a short list of things that might actually be useful to know ahead of time! Here are things that actually make a difference to breastfeeding and your milk supply!

  • A diet rich in healthy foods is a good idea for the recovery period after birth. Foods that are rich in iron tend to support a healthy supply of milk. Healthy doesn’t have to mean expensive!
  • Foods such as dark leafy greens, meats, prunes, and raisins contain a good amount of iron. It is important to consciously add in a source of iron to meals to ensure that replacement for blood loss during labor occurs. In some instances birthing parents who are severely anemic make less milk.
  • Iron is broken down in our bodies in an acidic environment. This means combining an iron rich meal with a source of vitamin such as orange slices, fruit or another source of vitamin C.
  • Cooking with a cast iron pot will help increase the iron content of foods.

Mental State Preparation:

  • Imagine that you are holding your baby and gazing into their eyes.
  • Write on your mirror a message of strength: I am strong, my body is capable.
  • ignore unhelpful and unsolicited advice from friends and family, people tend to share scary stories that are unhelpful.
  • The path of your mother and sisters is not your path; you will define your own motherhood/parenthood.
  • Envision a circle of light around your baby and yourself; some people find this makes them feel more secure and safe.
  • Make a birth vision board!
  • Consider the help of a Doula!

Expectations of a healthy breastfeeding relationship:

  • A healthy breastfeeding relationship will involve an intimate connection with your child. They will communicate their needs to you and as your grow together the communication becomes easier to understand.
  • Early on it will be important to preemptively offer the breast before  you even think they are hungry. They will learn to trust that they will be fed. Remember that crying is a late sign of hunger
  • Hold your baby! Not all breastfeeding/chestfeeding is about milk transfer. Sometimes babies need to feel safe and loved. They get this information by breastfeeding. The suck will not be as strong as they relax at the breast and drift off to sleep.
  • Your baby has expectations. They expect to know the landscape of the human skin. Unwrap your baby and place them skin to skin. Sometimes if they are clothed they will sleep through hunger cues.
  • You may notice breast tenderness and some nipple soreness in the beginning but it should not be very painful. If breastfeeding hurts then seek out support right away. There is no need to try and accept pain as a normal part of breastfeeding/chestfeeding- it is not.

(c) Copyright Serena Meyer RN IBCLC

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