There are so many questions and decisions that go through a pregnant woman’s mind…especially with her first baby! Many mothers are choosing to breastfeed now, and it is encouraging to see the resurgence of breastfeeding in our society.
Breastfeeding isn’t always a success right from the get-go. Sometimes a mother and baby need a little extra support and help. It is best to prepare for a breastfeeding relationship before your baby is born to ensure a better start.
There are many checklists to check off as it gets closer to the day your baby is born. But be sure to keep up with preparing to breastfeed as a high priority: it will help both your health and well-being and your baby’s!
Here are five steps to prepare for successful breastfeeding before baby is born:
1. Mental Preparation
I have met so many women who say they want to breastfeed…but it is apparent that they are still on the fence about it. In every instance I have seen, these same women end up quitting early and giving their babies formula. I have no right to judge them or their decisions! However, I believe mental preparation is highest on the list of preparing for a successful breastfeeding relationship.
You need to believe wholeheartedly that breastfeeding is the best nutrition you can give your child. Believe strongly that you can do this! You need to have faith that all will be well.
Do not let your mind say that “there is always formula if this doesn’t work out.” There are few cases in which breastfeeding doesn’t work well, but if that is the route your mind takes…it will be that much easier to go there. Keep positive, believe in your body, and believe in your baby.
2. Build Supportive Relationships
I am not sure I could have nursed my son for as long as I did without the support of nursing women around me.
Find friends who are nursing and have “playdates.” Find friends who have nursed children in the past and ask them questions. Nine times out of 10 they will be more than happy to answer questions. Join groups online for crunchy or attachment parenting and see if there are women who want to support you! Real-life groups will be most beneficial, but the internet is also a great tool!
One of the most important things you can do is find a local Le Leche League group that meets regularly. Le Leche League is America’s leading breastfeeding support group and most towns and areas have regularly set-up meetings in libraries, meeting rooms and even homes! These groups are usually very laid-back, informational and extremely supportive. I deeply encourage you to look into an LLL group near you. You can find a local LLL group by going to the Le Leche League homepage (www.llli.org), choosing “United States of America” for your country (or other appropriate country) and choosing your State.
3. Learn to Boost Supply
Before your baby is born, it is important to stock up on herbs that help a breastfeeding mother’s supply, like fenugreek. Learn about herbs and how to prepare them, and buy a little of each to have on hand.
Herbs tend to be highly nourishing and helpful. It is worth looking into!
It would also be beneficial to look into foods that are said to boost milk supply, like oatmeal. There are even recipes for “lactation cookies” out there on the internet! Find recipes like these and keep on hand for after baby is born. Help for boosting supply isn’t always needed, but it can’t hurt to be prepared!
4. Preparing Your Diet
Despite what people may think, diet plays a big role in the success of breastfeeding.Before you give birth, really consider what you want to be eating while nursing your babe.
Your breastmilk will compose of 50% saturated fats…it is important to supply yourself with many healthy fats to eat (coconut oil, grass-fed butter, grass-fed cheeses, and whole fat dairy) for both your health and your baby’s milk! Homemade ice creams are also very nourishing and a great, quick treat kept in the freezer! It is likewise highly important to eat a lot of protein every day.
There are many styles of diet, but the most important thing you can focus on is eating real, whole foods and eating often! So many women feel the need to diet and lose weight, but all that really does is cut back the nourishment to your own body. Your baby will get the best your body has to offer: don’t sell yourself short.
Nourish both yourself and your baby. Do not count calories while breastfeeding!! As long as you are eating unprocessed foods that feel good to eat, you really can’t go wrong, and you really won’t gain any weight. Eat as much as you are hungry for, and as often as you please. Don’t overeat, but eat to satisfy. Breastfeeding can naturally help you lose weight in many cases.
Keep good food in your home: roasted whole chickens are easy to prepare and easy to snack off of. Slice cheese and keep in containers. Cut up carrots and cucumbers and keep in the fridge with a homemade ranch dip made with full-fat sour cream. Watermelons and fruits and easy-peel oranges are good to have. I would often snack on nuts and nut-butters as well while I was nursing my son.
Before your baby is born, make a list of meals and snacks that are unprocessed and that you could make and keep easily. Keep this list handy for the next few months!
5. Preparing Your Home
You may already be preparing baby’s bed and play places and diaper changing areas. Do not forget to prepare a place to nurse baby! A comfortable chair or couch, rocking chair or bed. In this place, have many pillows, tv remote, nipple cream, magazines or books, and a small table to hold snacks and water/beverages. A centralized location to nurse that holds all your important supplies is so important…in the early days as well as later on!
When you nurse your baby, be prepared to lift up your feet and relax…every time! Baby won’t nurse well if you are tense or stressed. Make it a relaxing place with cool breezes. A private place where you can be skin-to-skin, and where everything you need is there. A place where you will both feel calm and at home.
Before baby is born, purchase or find large glass containers or mason jars to keep water at this nursing place. It will lessen the refills if you can keep a few jars/bottles there, and will help you monitor how much water you are drinking.
A wonderful rule to follow is to drink a glass of water every time baby nurses. Do this for as long as you nurse the child…do not stop when the baby gets older!
Breastfeeding isn’t always guaranteed to be a road without a few bumps. If you are prepared ahead of time, you can lessen the load if problems do arise, and are more likely to succeed at nursing your baby for a long time. Blessings to you and your little one!
Did you do anything to prepare for breastfeeding prior to birth?
Sara of A Joyful Mother is a follower of Christ, married to a strong man with a leader’s soul, and Mama of a sweet little boy who is more like his Daddy every day. Sara is passionate about natural health and the vibrancy it brings, the powerful role of the stay at home Mama, Christianity, herbs, real food in all its deliciousness, and natural birth. You can find her at her blog writing about abiding in the home with joy (Psalm 113:9) and finding fulfillment in the little things Mamas do every day.