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Preparing for Breastfeeding

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on August 05, 2020 photo of breastfeeding

If you're planning to breastfeed, remember it's just like learning any other new skill. And you get better with practice. Here's how to prepare.

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  • Talk to your OB and pediatrician about breastfeeding.
  • Read a few books, such as the New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Don't Go It Alone

  • See if your hospital has a lactation consultant to help new moms learn about breastfeeding. Many hospitals offer this service for free.
  • If not, consider hiring a certified lactation consultant yourself. For more information, contact the International Lactation Consultant Association.
  • Keep handy your lactation coach's and pediatrician's phone numbers.

Prepare Yourself Mentally

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing.
  • Be prepared for some breastfeeding challenges. It may take patience to figure out how to get a hungry baby to latch onto your breast.

Make It a Family Decision

  • Talk to your partner about breastfeeding.
  • Plan how to make your mate feel involved in feeding.

Plan the Details

  • Talk with your doctor about how you should eat when breastfeeding. Ask how to know if your baby has any intolerance to certain foods you eat.
  • Ask your doctor about birth control that is safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • Talk to other moms who breastfeed or have breastfed. Ask them how they fit pumping into their work schedule and how they coped with sore nipples. Join a local new mom's group for advice and support.

 

Get Set to Go

  • Set up a quiet corner or room for breastfeeding.
  • Many women find the U-shaped pillows particularly helpful for nursing.
  • Some women find it helps to have their feet raised on a footstool.
  • Have your nursing bras washed and ready, if you haven't already started wearing them.
  • Line up several button down shirts or dresses to make nursing easier.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

University of Florida: "Emotional and Physical Preparation for Breast Feeding."

American Academy of Pediatrics:  "Things to Avoid When Breastfeeding;" "Expressing Breastmilk on the Job;" "Common Myths about Breastfeeding;" "Breastfeeding Positions;" and "New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition, 2011."

CDC: "The CDC Guide To Breastfeeding Interventions," "Educating Mothers."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Manage Your Stress."

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