Planning to breastfeed? There are a few things you can do during your pregnancy to be as prepared as possible for a successful breastfeeding journey. I know from experience what helped me prepare for breastfeeding, as well as what I wish I had done to prepare.
So here are the 5 things you can do while you’re pregnant to set yourself up for a great start to breastfeeding.
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1. Stock Up On the Essentials
There are several products that I stocked up on ahead of time, and I’m so glad I did! The first is lanolin, which you can use to prevent and treat cracking, bleeding, or soreness. I used it after every single feeding for the first few weeks and completely prevented all those nasty issues you hear about… After the first few weeks I used it a couple times a day. You’ll want to have some of this stuff ready to go for when you bring your baby home.
The next essential to stock up on while you’re pregnant is nursing bras. I love these soft, comfy ones that also happen to be very reasonably priced.
Along with those, you’ll want some reusable breast pads. These are much more soft and comfortable than the disposable kind, plus they cut down on waste.
Next, you’ll want to get a Haaka. This thing is amazing! Just suction it onto one side while you feed on the other, and you’ll collect some extra milk without having to “pump.” I have saved so much milk this way, that otherwise would have been wasted in a breast pad. It’s affordable and very useful!
Last but not least, get a silicone bracelet that you can wear on the wrist you need to feed on next. You don’t want to always be feeding from the same side, and keeping track of which one you fed on last can be really difficult when you already have so much to think about. I tried using a few different regular bracelets at first but they all broke from putting them on and taking them off so many times. This silicone one has worked great since it’s very strong and yet stretchy enough to take off and put on easily. It comes in various sizes and colors, too.
2. Claim Your Pump
Even if you’re planning to exclusively breastfeed and not pump, I would recommend getting one just in case. I never thought I’d use mine, but ended up using it quite a few times to give myself some more freedom. For example, if I wanted to leave my baby with her grandparents for a few hours, i could give her milk from my Haaka stash, and then either pump before or after I had been separated from her. If you don’t pump in place of every bottle feeding, your supply may go down. I didn’t want that! So I always added a pumping session on the same day that my baby took a bottle. I could pump with my Haaka, but found the electric pump to be more convenient for full pumping sessions.
If you have medical insurance - any kind of medical insurance in the U.S. that is - you can get a FREE breast pump and new parts when you need them!! You may have to pay if you want a higher grade pump, but in my case the free one available to me has worked great.
Wondering how to claim your free pump? Just go to https://aeroflowbreastpumps.com/ and it will guide you through the process. It’s quick and easy. I used this site to get my free breast pump shipped right to my house.
And don’t forget the milk storage bags! My free pump came with some, but I bought more just to make sure I’d have enough. Any brand will do.
3. Take a Course
So one you’ve got all of your essentials and your electric pump, then what? Take an online course to learn about how you’re going to put all that stuff to use! I love this course from Milkology, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Course. It’s only $19 and teaches you all the breastfeeding basics.
4. Talk With Your Doctor or Midwife
If you’re planning to breastfeed, a great way to ensure you’ll get the support you need when your baby is born is to talk with your doctor or midwife ahead of time. Tell them about your plans to breastfeed and ask about your hospital’s level of support for it. Some hospitals are more breastfeeding friendly than others. Make sure your doctor knows that you want to keep your baby skin-to-skin with you after birth if possible, and to start feeding your baby as soon as they show feeding cues, ideally within the first couple of hours.
5. Find Out About Your Hospital’s Lactation Consultant(s)
Many hospitals have lactation consultants who can help you with breastfeeding while you’re in the hospital. You can even make appointments with them after you’ve gone home to get additional support. Get their contact information and do some research on them ahead of time, so that you know how to reach them and how they can help you when the time comes.
There you have it! Now get ready - your journey is about to begin.
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