Before your baby arrives, it is so important to learn about lactation! I highly suggest attending a breastfeeding class and consulting a lactation consultant to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding and chestfeeding, how to latch your baby correctly, and how to position your baby for feeding. This knowledge will help you to feel more confident when breastfeeding and address any challenges you may encounter.
Plus, getting this knowledge when you are not exhausted from a newborn and have sore, damaged nipples makes things so much easier! When you meet with a lactation consultant during your pregnancy, they are often available to assist you with breastfeeding in your early postpartum when you experience difficulties. Getting on the schedule with a lactation consultant in postpartum when you have never met them could make getting immediate help difficult.
If you scroll through social media you might see posts pressuring you about your diet during postpartum and feeding your baby. While what you eat during pregnancy can affect your breast milk supply, stressing out about food can also be problematic. Avoid foods that are known to decrease milk supply like peppermint and sage. Other than that, eat foods that help you feel good. You do not need to eat an expensive diet to feed your baby. Just do your best to include whole foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals in your diet, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
During pregnancy, you can set up a spot for you and your baby where you can comfortably nurse, snack, and hydrate. If you plan on pumping later on, this spot can also house your pump too!
Invest in breastfeeding essentials like a comfortable nursing bra, nursing pads, and a nipple cream/salve like Motherlove. If you plan on pumping, get flanges that are the proper size for your body. A lactation consultant can assist with sizing your flanges. These items will make breastfeeding and chestfeeding more comfortable and convenient for you and your baby.
All of that being said, Don’t get caught up in the marketing. There are SO MANY companies who have entire marketing teams devoted to making you feel like you need every breastfeeding supplement and accessory. This is because breastfeeding is essentially ‘free’ and hard to make money from. What most parents need instead of a million items is lactation support to assist with ensuring a healthy supply. It is all about supply and demand, the more you feed your baby/pump and the more consistent you are, the more milk your body will make.
If you plan to return to work or need to be away from your baby for an extended period, consider buying a breast pump. My favorite pump for parents who just want to catch excess milk or keep a few ounces in the freezer for time away from baby is the Haakaa.
If you are preparing to go back to work or be away from baby for longer than a few hours, I highly suggest an electric double breast pump. The Spectra is my personal favorite! I have tried several different brands of pumps, and nothing comes close to the comfort and efficiency of the Spectra. They have one you can plug into the wall and one with a rechargeable battery! I use this on the drives to and from births or client visits all the time.
One of the most important things you can do to be comfortable pumping is to use the correct flange size. Most likely, the flange sizes that come with your pump will not fit you properly. Meet with a lactation consultant to help you properly size your flanges. Your midwife should also be able to help you size your flanges.
Worried about the price of breast pumps??
Check out this website to see if your insurance will cover the price of your pump!
Breastfeeding and chestfeeding can be challenging, especially in the first few weeks after birth. Prepare for breastfeeding by building your support system. Talk to your partner, family members, and friends about your lactation plans. They can offer emotional support, help with household chores, and care for you while you rest and recover.
Meet with a lactation consultant during pregnancy to establish a relationship and become educated about breastfeeding.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your breastfeeding plans. Your midwife can provide guidance and support, and answer any questions you may have about lactation. Midwives are trained on lactation yet OBs receive little if any lactation training. If you are using an OB for your pregnancy and birth journey, be sure to connect with a lactation consultant who can support you in postpartum outside of the hospital setting.
Preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant can help you to have a successful and enjoyable experience. Learn about breastfeeding, nourish yourself and hydrate, gather breastfeeding essentials, choose a breast pump, prepare your support system, and discuss breastfeeding with your healthcare provider. You can overcome any challenges and have a rewarding experience with your baby with proper preparation.
Jenni Jenkins – Sekine serves her Central Oklahoma community as a Student Midwife, Oklahoma Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum Doula, and Child Birth Educator. She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and began her journey as a student midwife with the Midwives College of Utah in 2022.
Jenni is also the creator & facilitator of the Kaleidoscope OKC LGBTQ Family Support Group & the Nurture Oklahoma Live Interview Series.
To learn more about Jenni, please click here.