Breastfeeding is really HARD. It surely doesn’t feel like something that is supposed to be natural–at least not at first. Before my babies were born, I was constantly googling different ways to prepare for successful breastfeeding.
I didn’t come up short on information, but I found that a lot of what I was reading was conflicting and misleading. There’s a reason your doctor doesn’t want you to Google medical issues you are experiencing. The many self-proclaimed “experts” make it really difficult to separate fact from fiction.
I was lucky enough to have two children that were pretty easy to breastfeed. It’s probably not fair for me to complain about breastfeeding when so many other moms have a much more difficult time than I ever did.
Honestly, I just hate pain. I think most of us do..but I don’t have a lot of experience with pain, so the pain I have gone through seems pretty bad to me.
I wanted to bring in an actual expert on breastfeeding–and luckily I know one (because I have taken a couple of her courses)!
There are affiliate links in this article, which means I will get a small commission if you purchase any of these items through the link I provide (at no additional cost to you). You can read more about this in my disclaimer.
Stacey Stewart CLE (Certified Lactation Consultant) is a long-time breastfeeding advocate and mother who also has a master’s degree in teaching (MAT). She is a longtime breastfeeding advocate and mother who currently teaches a few online breastfeeding courses on her site Milkology, where she is passionate about empowering new mothers to breastfeed successfully.
She says when she is not creating new lactation content or leading online breastfeeding boot camps you can find her chasing my kids around looking for adventure, sneaking some chocolate from the pantry, listening to NPR, or practicing Yoga with Adrienne.
I recommend checking out Stacey’s website and different courses that she offers. I have PERSONALLY checked out her breastfeeding courses The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class and The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class and I can vouch for the fact that they are incredibly valuable. Stacey knows her stuff and legitimately wants to help you succeed.
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5 Simple Steps to Prepare for Successful Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is natural, but doesn’t always come naturally and is a skill you need to learn. The absolute BEST thing you can do to prepare to breastfeed is to learn as much as you can ahead of time. Going into breastfeeding knowing what to expect can make all the difference in the world!
Do yourself a huge favor and take a breastfeeding class in person or online (or both!), read a book about breastfeeding, and empower yourself with knowledge. That way when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time you’ll feel informed, ready, and confident in your body’s ability to nourish your new bundle of joy.
Find the Right Professionals
Look for a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician. You’ll be seeing your baby’s doctor a lot during the postpartum period and they’ll be analyzing your feeding progression and baby’s weight.
Not all medical professionals are created equal when it comes to breastfeeding information and advice. Some have more background and enthusiasm for it than others.
Seek out a doctor who not only supports your decision to breastfeed but is also knowledgeable and devoted to helping you reach your lactation goals.
Also, seek an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) local to your area. They’re the best of the best when it comes to breastfeeding best practices and have the most training and education behind them.
I call them the “dairy fairies” because they truly work magic with troubleshooting breastfeeding problems!
I advise you reach out to 3 and keep the info of the one you like the best close by in case you encounter any difficulties.
Join a Breastfeeding Support Group
We all know raising children takes a village. But did you know breastfeeding does too? Being around women who are going through EXACTLY what you are can be incredibly helpful (for both sanity and support).
Luckily for us, we live in an amazing time when you have access to women around the world at your fingertips! Join some online breastfeeding support groups and you’ll get 24/7 access to a wealth of information and tons of support!
Also do a search to see if there are any local, in person breastfeeding groups near you. Oftentimes hospitals, lactation consultants, and clinics will offer free support groups.
And then there’s also the well-known La Leche League that offers in-person breastfeeding support groups all over the world.
Prepare a “Milk Basket”
You’ll be sitting stationary a lot of the time while breastfeeding so a little trick is to make a breastfeeding station that you can easily move wherever you are for quick access, aka a “Milk Basket!”
You don’t need anything fancy. A basket, bin, box, or crate will do the trick! Some items you may want to include:
- Nipple balm – Taking care of your nipples is important whether or not you’re experiencing problems. Rub some nipple balm (or even coconut oil!) on your nipples after each breastfeeding session, especially in the early weeks as they’re getting used to all the extra attention.
- Nursing Pads – You might leak from time to time so nursing pads may become your new BFF! Available in both disposable and reusable.
- Snacks – A lot of women report feeling more hungry breastfeeding than while pregnant! You’ll need roughly 500 extra calories a day so one-handed, nutritious snacks are a great thing to have close by when hunger strikes. (ex: granola bars, lactation cookies, trail mix)
- Water Bottle – It’s a myth that drinking more water will increase your milk supply. But being well-hydrated is important for maintaining energy levels and keeping yourself healthy. So drink up, mama!
- Other Ideas – burp cloths, diapers, wipes, tv remote, cell charger, baby blanket, Haaka (to collect milk on the other side)
Take it Easy Postpartum
Sometimes it takes a while to get the hang of breastfeeding. It often takes some experimentation, a bit of adjustment, and a lot of patience before you and your baby feel like you’ve “got it.”
Because you’ll be recovering from childbirth, sleep deprived AND you and your baby will be learning a new skill the best thing you can do is plan ahead to slow life down and don’t try to do too much those first six weeks postpartum.
This period won’t won’t last forever but is just what your body and your baby need to get breastfeeding off to a good start. If available, enlist help so others can take care of YOU while you rest, recover, and find your groove breastfeeding.
What tip did you find to be most helpful? What have you done to help prepare for your breastfeeding journey? I would love to hear about it in the comment section below!