Preparing for breastfeeding
1. Do your homework
There are many fantastic online resources such as kellymom.com and Dr. Jack Newman’s site, where you can watch videos that show how babies latch and how you know if baby is drinking from the breast. Another excellent online resource is this series of promotional and information videos from New Zealand. The Irish site breastfeeding.ie is a useful local resource.
You could attend a breastfeeding class with a Lactation Consultant prior to your baby’s birth, which will give you added confidence. And don’t forget your GentleBirth mp3 for Confident Breastfeeding – I credit it as having a huge influence on the ease of my breastfeeding relationship with my first baby.
2. Create your village
Take note of which friends and family members may be good sources of breastfeeding information when you’ve had your baby.
Get along to a breastfeeding support meeting while you are pregnant, perhaps at the start of your maternity leave. Pregnant women are always welcome and it’s much easier to motivate yourself to get along to a meeting post partum if you already know some of the people there. The groups are fantastic, not only if you have problems, but also for combating some of the unhelpful breastfeeding advice you can get from well-meaning family members – often from those who haven’t breastfed! It’s a great way to connect with other mothers living near you. You can find a list of support groups in your area on breastfeeding.ie.
If you are involved in online forums and Facebook groups, join one where there are experienced breastfeeding mums who can offer guidance and support and normalise the breastfeeding experience for you.
3. Get your partner on board
Make sure your partner knows how time-consuming breastfeeding a newborn might be. Discuss what your expectations are around housework, particularly during the time he takes off after the baby is born. If possible, he should be doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry and nappy changing while you focus on getting feeding well-established and sleeping when you can. It’s a team effort!
If your partner is not able to take time off after the birth, then call in favours from other family members. You could also consider hiring a postnatal doula who could help you with breastfeeding, as well as household chores.
4. Write birth preferences that support getting off to a good start
Even if you have had a c-section, you should still be able to have this skin-to-skin contact, so discuss this with your caregiver antenatally and write c-section birth preferences.
We know that birth interventions affect breastfeeding so preparing for as undisturbed a birth as possible, by using the GentleBirth programme, will give you the best chance of getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
5. Plan on being laidback
5. Remember what you’ve learned!
…a newborn’s stomach is tiny and can only hold 5 – 7 ml of colostrum on the first day of life.
..if there is a need to supplement your baby, the first choice should not be formula, but your own expressed colostrum, fed from either a syringe, spoon or cup, rather than a bottle, so as not to confuse the baby’s suck pattern. The Lactation Consultant in the hospital or your midwife can show you how.
..if in doubt, contact your Cuidiu breastfeeding counsellor or LLL Leader for support.