By Katie Hilton
Katie Hilton is a dual qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor and the expert adviser for MAM UK. She is also a mu’ma herself to one cheeky little man.
Pregnant mums often ask me what they need to do to get ready to breastfeed once their baby arrives. Breastfeeding is one of the most valuable things you can do for your new baby and it is also something most new mums have never done before. Preparing before your baby arrives will leave you more comfortable and happier, knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier feeding can be.
1. Take a Breastfeeding Class.
While many first-time pregnant women take an antenatal class, a much lower percentage take a breastfeeding class. The mums who do take a breastfeeding class say that it was tremendously helpful in preparing them for breastfeeding. In 2020 the world is a little different but you can still find many classes online, ask your midwife or health visitor for recommendations.
2. Make a list of local support groups who you can call for help.
When a mum needs help with breastfeeding, she needs help NOW! Having a list of where to go for support ahead of time will prevent you from feeling desperate and defeated. Reach out the groups and meet them ahead of time, find ones that line up with your feeding goals and who feel like the right fit with your family. Many are available for virtual visits right now!
3. Make a Feeding Plan.
Birth plans have been around for a while but feeding plans and postpartum plans are becoming more important. A feeding plan allows you to express your wishes and intentions when it comes to feeding your new baby. Even if you are planning on formula feeding your baby creating a feeding plan is equally as important. Think of the things you want and the things you want to avoid when it comes to feeding your new baby. Keep a copy of your feeding plan in your hospital bag and on your fridge for easy access!
4. Get good antenatal care.
I know this seems a given but routine antenatal care can help you avoid premature birth and complications. You can also talk to your midwife or doctor about any breastfeeding concerns you may have had, medications you are taking during pregnancy and safety while breastfeeding and any underlying medical conditions that may affect your ability to breastfeed.
5. Talk to your friends who have breastfed
They are your cheerleaders and will be there for the long haul. Find out what tips and tricks they wish they’d known about ahead of time.
6. Get the items you need for breastfeeding.
Make sure you are stocked up in advance, so you don’t have to rely on family and friends to pick up the items for you. My suggestions on what to include are 2 nursing bras, breast pads. Nipple cream that is safe with breastfeeding. Pyjamas with buttons for easy access for feeding. Nipple shields to help in the event of sore, cracked nipples. Frozen peas/gel packs/cabbage leaves to help ease engorgement. A breastfeeding pillow, breast pump, breastmilk storage pots, bottles and any other items you feel you might need.