Preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant

If you plan to breastfeed your baby once he or she is born, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself while you’re pregnant. Janet Tucker, MSN, RNC-OB, program director of Le Bonheur’s Fetal Center, and Ruth Munday, BSN, RN-BC, IBCLC, a registered lactation consultant, share some of their most helpful tips.

What can I do during pregnancy to have a good start with breastfeeding?

  • Check into breastfeeding classes offered at your delivery hospital. Attending class during pregnancy will provide you with information, support, and many practical tips.
  • Consider a prenatal visit with an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). A lactation consultant can provide current, evidence based lactation support and guide you through establishing and maintaining your milk supply.
  • Make a list of questions or concerns that you have about breastfeeding and be sure to discuss them in class, with your obstetrician and/or lactation consultant.
  • If you are writing a birth plan, be sure to let your family and health care team know your wishes regarding breastfeeding.
  • Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding with your family, especially those that will be helping you in the first weeks after delivery.
  • Some advantages of breastfeeding include: providing your baby with colostrum (the first milk often yellow in color), which has powerful antibodies and immune factors to help boost your baby’s immune system, breastmilk is easier to digest, breastfeeding can save money, and breastfeeding can be good for a mother’s health, too.
  • Consider who might be your biggest supporters, and let them know of your decision about breastfeeding. Building a support network is key to keeping you focused on your goal of breastfeeding .
  • Sometimes the father of the baby or a grandmother may comment that they will feel left out if they can’t feed the baby. Let them know there are many practical ways they can still help and have time with the baby.
  • If you are returning to work after delivery, find out if your company has a designated room for breastfeeding moms to pump in privacy. If not, there may be a private office that can be used.
  • Check with your insurance company on reimbursement for breast pumps. Lactation consultants in the delivery hospital can help with providing information about pumps.
  • Check into local resources in your community for breastfeeding. In Shelby County, the Shelby County Breastfeeding Coalition has a website with local and area resources.
  • In Tennessee, there is breastfeeding hotline that you can call 24/7 to speak to a lactation consultant. Phone number for the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline is: 1-855-423-6667.
  • If you are on any medications regularly, check with your obstetrician now to see if they are compatible with breastfeeding.

You have made a great decision to give your baby a wonderful start in life. There are many resources in the hospital and community to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals. Surround yourself with support and try not to get overwhelmed! Every mother is different and so what works for some may not work for others. Don’t hesitate to reach out after delivery if you need help. Remember this is new to you and your baby! Set short term goals and when you reach them then set your new breastfeeding goal. Before you know it, you will be on your way to successful breastfeeding!

infant, nutrition