Pregnant moms-to-be: Have you thought about preparing for breastfeeding yet?
It’s tempting to get so wrapped up in planning and thinking about our labor and birth (and the nursery color scheme!) that we can easily forget that we actually have to care for our sweet littles once they’re out.
One of the biggest areas of concern for first-time-moms is breastfeeding. And it should be – it’s a huge deal both in terms of nourishment and comfort of the baby, as well as commitment and work for the new mother.
Unfortunately breastfeeding—as natural as it is—can also be difficult for some.
Every woman experiences it differently – some with very little problem, others with challenges they never even dreamed of.
Although there’s no way of knowing for certain how exactly your body and baby will respond, there are a few measures you can take to prepare yourself.
Here are seven simple ways to help you get ready for taking on the breastfeeding learning curve.
1) Get educated.
Attend a breastfeeding class, find some breastfeeding resources online, read an informative book, and/or ask to speak with a lactation consultant if possible. You can’t put a pricetag on good information and it will help empower you for the journey and task ahead! Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding, the mechanics of it, the stages of how your breasts and milk change and develop, as well as the common difficulties that women encounter (latch issues, engorgement, blocked ducts, mastitis, etc). The more you know, the more likely you are to perservere in the event that things get off to a rocky start. (One of the best comprehensive online resources I’ve found is www.kellymom.com)
2) Get talking.
As much as you’re able, try to share your desires to breastfeed as well as how it all works with your partner. Talk about your reasons/motivations, your goals and level of commitment, as well as how it all works. Also talk about some of the potential issues that commonly arise and the fact that the first several weeks can be tricky. (Assure him that it normally gets easier and more “normal” by about week six, if not sooner.) It will help him to feel a little more included as he looks on from the outside to this special part of parenthood reserved exclusively for mothers. If he feels informed and included he’s much more likely to support you (and understand why you are trying to stick with it in the event a problem arises). Ideally, get him to attend a breastfeeding information workshop with you.
3) Get friends.
Try to find two or three mom-friends who have sucessfully breastfed their babies that you can call on when you need to. Most likely you will have questions as you go and you’ll need real-time support in some form or another – whether it’s another woman to problem-solve with or just for a word of encouragement in a moment of difficulty. Experienced friends can be a lifesaver.
4) Get soothies.
Buy some soothies or other similar gel pads that can be refrigerated between uses. These simple pads help sooth sore nipples between feeds and are especially helpful during the first few weeks while your breasts are adjusting to all of the changes. (And your sweet little cherub/barracuda!) An experienced friend sent me some when I had my first baby and they were the best gift I didn’t know I needed! (Tip: if you can’t find gel pads in a store near you, or just don’t want to spend the money, you can also use frozen cabbage leaves to accomplish the same cooling sensation.)
5) Get supplies.
Have a box of breast pads on hand to absorb excess milk so you don’t get stuck with embarassing leaky boobs in public (or have to do any more laundry than you absolutely have to). You should also pick up a small tube of Lansinoh nipple cream (or another recommended brand) in case you get sore, cracked nipples. Be warned though – don’t go stockpiling these things because you may not end up needing them. (Leaking isn’t a given – I never did end up using more than a few breast pads. Of course that did mean a couple of my friends were very grateful for my unused donations!)
6) Get support.
Literally. As in… nursing tanks or bras! I’m personally a big fan of nursing tank tops. They are so comfortable and easy to get started in since you don’t have to mess with both a bra and a shirt at once. (Invaluable for those first few weeks and the steep learning curve.) Use them on their own or use them under another shirt so that your belly isn’t exposed when you lift up your normal shirt (awkward!). I used nursing tanks around the clock when I started breastfeeding since they also provide a comfortable way to remain supported at night. Two years later you can still catch me sporting these tanks. LOVE them!!
7) Get covered.
Many people aren’t comfortable with public breastfeeding. If this is you, buy or make a nursing cover. It will help you feel more private and confident to breastfeed in front of others if you have a simple cover-up that allows for privacy without getting in the way of you and baby. A nursing cover allows you to see your baby (and see as you adjust yourself), and the strap that goes around your neck leaves you hands free to hold and adjust as needed. I used my nursing cover all. the. time. during my first few months breastfeeding and have since bought them as baby shower gifts for nearly all of my pregnant friends. (Warning: there comes a time when most babies disdain these covers which limit their curious, growing minds and ability to look around while they feed! By then you should be much more comfortable with your own abilities and body anyway, so most likely it won’t be a drama.)
Read 10 tips and tricks for breastfeeding in public.
Dear friends, are you a mom-to-be who is planning on breastfeeding? I hope these tips have been helpful for you. Have you learned anything?? And for the old pros out there, any tips you’d add to my list?
Tracy Dickinson8 August 2011 at 10:46 pm
i like the betty one the best! and as for a tip….my best advice is to not give up. it can be challenging and hard to get in a groove, but so worth it to keep trying until you are successful!
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 8:39 pm
I love hearing the success stories of women who determined to not give up and things ended well with them. Awesome!
Jess S8 August 2011 at 11:03 pm
I love the Andrea and the Dirty Martini. They’re all adorable, though. And such a great idea!
Kaitlin8 August 2011 at 11:37 pm
So grateful for this post–about to look at the links! Do more first time mommy posts! I am taking my husband with me to my breastfeeding class at the hospital in October. I love the betty cover :)…hope I get it!!
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 8:56 pm
LOL Kaitlin! 🙂 Well, here’s the first time mom category: http://adrielbooker.com/category/first-time-mom/ Unfortunately when you enter the URL it only pulls up the last four posts with that category. But, it’s more than none, right?! 😉 Hope that helps!
amanda9 August 2011 at 12:27 am
i love the betty and dirty martini nursing covers– so cute! having had a wonderful breastfeeding experience with my first baby, i would encourage moms to give it a good 4-6 weeks. as you said in your post, it really does get dramatically easier!!! nurse often and pump when you can’t nurse to keep your supply going at the beginning, drink LOTS of water, and rest! you may think it’s selfish, but proper nutrition, rest, and exercise help this natural function of your female body! hang in there, all you new nursing mamas!
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 8:57 pm
So true Amanda! I don’t think that you can drink ENOUGH water when breastfeeding. I was so conscious about drinking water but was STILL often dehydrated. Drink, drink, drink your water… and then guzzle some more! 🙂
Branson9 August 2011 at 12:28 am
This is a great, helpful post. My biggest hearbreak with Aiden was my inability to breastfeed. I took these steps myself, and even though it didn’t work out, it is good to be prepared. No amount of preparation can ensure the ol’ boobs will work, though 😉
Too Much Good9 August 2011 at 2:10 am
Loving the Hooters cover…I am explicable obsessed with owls right now. Thanks for the nursing tips. Hoping with my next week I will be able to nurse again. It was such a great bonding experience for my daughter and I feel so blessed that it worked for us, as I know it is not the best choice or option for everyone.
Carol9 August 2011 at 3:07 am
Great advice, Adriel! I think the support of a friend, family member, or lactaction consultant is paramount. It’s so easy to just give up on it, and although it’s not for everyone, if you stick through those first few weeks, it becomes an easy and enjoyable experience.
Jessica9 August 2011 at 3:35 am
I plan to breastfeed baby #2, and I’m so excited! Having been through it one time has taught me so much, and while I struggled early on with breastfeeding, I wouldn’t trade my breastfeeding experience for anything.
I entered the giveaway last time, so hopefully, this time I’ll get lucky. I think my favorite design is the Rosey Posey. *fingers crossed that I win!
Katrina9 August 2011 at 3:47 am
My best tip is that it does get easier after the first 4 weeks!
samantha9 August 2011 at 4:24 am
the first time you did this giveaway i picked the betty (which i still love) but now i’m starting to really love the samurai cover-up…baby#2 is due in november and this cover-up would be great to have since i’d be more open to breastfeeding in public with it on. thanks for doing the giveaways!
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 8:37 pm
Samantha! You are the winner but you’ve left no way for me to contact you! Hope you see the post announcing the winner. Please contact me within 48 hours or the prize will be passed on to the back-up winner.
Pez9 August 2011 at 7:56 am
The samurai one is GORGEOUS! I too was a little nervous in flashing ‘the boys’ with my first, as she had a habit of yanking down whatever thin wrap I was unsuccessfully using to try and cover up! I will definitely be looking into a cover for my next! My tip would be….expect it to be super, super hard….then you hopefully will be pleasantly suprised! And if it is hard…you were already expected that anyways! I think part of the problem is so many expect it to be super easy (and not hurt at all apparently) and with that expectation (and all the post partum hormones) it can be easy to give up, or think its all too much. Expectations and mind-frame can have a huge impact.
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 9:07 pm
I completely agree. Not that we should be fatalistic, but if women know that problems and pain are normal and that it does nearly always get better, then they will be much more apt to have a good outcome in the long run. (And yes, I was pleasantly surprised when my experience was on the easier end of the spectrum – so grateful and hoping #2 will be the same!!) I love the samurai too. That’s the one I have! 🙂
Sam N9 August 2011 at 9:18 am
I like the Betty! Thanks for the suggestions, very helpful!
Cameron9 August 2011 at 12:15 pm
Oh wow I am so excited for you & this new baby of yours coming soon!! I loved breastfeeding & I hope it goes as well the second time around as it did the first! I definitely think that having the support of a lactation consultant and other moms who have breastfed are the two best things!! There is so much comfort just knowing you’re not alone when things are hard or you & baby are just figuring it all out!!
Alicia9 August 2011 at 12:55 pm
I love the Betty cover-up! I had a great breastfeeding experience with my son. He was and continues to be a pretty healthy, easy eater. But I do remember those first few weeks/months feeling like I was constantly nursing. It does get a lot easier after that first bit. Hopefully I will have as much success with the next one! 🙂
Becca9 August 2011 at 1:07 pm
Love the Bam! Flower design.
Dee10 August 2011 at 8:02 am
I am pregnant with #3 and couldn’t agree more about the soothies. I didn’t have them until a few weeks after #2 was born and I wish I would have had them all along!! I like the bam! flower pattern!
Nessa10 August 2011 at 1:05 pm
LOVE LOVE… I don’t know if I would have made it without my lactation consultants/nurses! Ask and get help ladies.
Mandi Potter10 August 2011 at 5:04 pm
I love the Melanie one!
Lori Schierer12 August 2011 at 1:31 pm
The Betty is probably my favorite!
Lindsey allen12 August 2011 at 10:34 pm
i love the covers! My fav is prob the shanghai one. As far as nursing goes use nipple cream from thr start before your
Nipples get chapped. Once they are it makes nursing so much more painful.
Joanne @ Homestyling10114 August 2011 at 10:06 pm
Loving the Samurai!I breastfed both my babies and I am now my lil sis is a breastfeeding warrior…and it is working! If I win- this is for her and my gorgeous nephew! Great Blog!
Jess16 August 2011 at 4:26 pm
I just “found” you through a couple of friends and can honestly say I think I’m going to enjoy my stay here.
I also am married to an Aussie, but we are here in America with two little ladies of our own. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just mentioned.
I would also say, be educated when it comes to visiting the pediatrician as well, with my first I was determined to breastfeed, but we had issues (I was not as educated with process as I should have been and am still angry/guilty about it) with #1’s bowels and just pain that wasn’t colic but wasn’t typical either.
The dr. suggested formula to try and figure things out, I hated seeing her in pain and crying so, okay, sure, of course. Plus, hubby is super soft-hearted and it broke him.
After about a week, week 1/2 we found out that it was an issue with a band in her bottom and NOTHING to do with my milk, BUT, she wouldn’t go back. I was devastated.
All of that to say, stick to your guns, if this is something you want, then stick with it, no matter the pain, no matter the sleeplessness.
Now that I’m breastfeeding #2 (5 months) I can see such a huge difference between my girls. So much so that I truly feel like I failed #1 in so many ways.
No I am not beating myself up about it, I just want your readers to understand how important it truly is.
Excited to read more.
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 9:10 pm
Oh Jess, that’s so disappointing! What a hard thing to go through. I’m so glad it’s working out better for you this time around, and now you can use your experience to encourage other moms to hang in there and get a second opinion if needed!! Glad to “meet” you and I look forward to checking out your blog too. 🙂
Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos16 August 2011 at 7:05 pm
COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED IN REGARDS TO THE NURSING COVER GIVEAWAY, but I will leave them open for other tips/comments related to breastfeeding for new moms. 🙂
Jess16 August 2011 at 11:43 pm
Absolutely. God does take the trials/”bad” experiences and uses them for good. How would we know 95% of what we do if nommies hadn’t gone through difficult things and shared it.
Yes, Queenie is my friend and Tracy D, your first comment, is as well. She was my first SAHM Interview on my site.
Jess16 August 2011 at 11:44 pm
Ugh, nommies, not nommies, sorry I’m on my phone.
Jess16 August 2011 at 11:45 pm
What the heck? I really have to take auto correct off my phone. Mommies.
Anne Galivan17 August 2011 at 12:06 pm
Okay so that picture made me so jealous! I nursed all four of my children and loved it. It is one of the mommy things I really miss.
In any case, the #1 thing I recommend to new moms is to buy yourself a tube of lanolin and start using it from the first time you nurse. Put it on every time after you nurse your baby. I had such trouble with sore and raw nipples in the first weeks after my first three children were born, but with my youngest (that I had several years later) I used lanolin from day one and I had very little soreness in my breasts. What a relief!
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April4 September 2017 at 1:29 am
The most important in breastfeeding is good preparation! I had so many questions about breastfeeding when my son was born. I was lost and depressed because somehow it was very difficult for me. I felt that I won’t handle it.