Pregnancy comes with a lot of preparation – don’t forget to include breastfeeding in that plan! Here are five smart ways to prepare during pregnancy to successfully breastfeed.
Occasionally I have a mother ask me, “Is there anything I can do to prepare to breastfeed during pregnancy or ensure I have a good milk supply?”
There are a lot of myths out there about toughening your nipples or pumping, but when it comes down to it, there aren’t any magic foods or products that are going to help.
However, the few things that you can do will set you up for breastfeeding success and help you.
I’m a big proponent of preparation – which is why I’ve created The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class. I just think it’s so important for mothers to be aware of what’s to come so they can make the most informed decisions possible.
Without further adieu, here are five tips for preparing to breastfeed. I actually did an instagram post on this topic recently, so if you are a visual learner, you might appreciate this 🙂
This is the number one thing I can tell you to do. Read a book. Take a class. Arm yourself with knowledge.
While you may still encounter problems even after reading every book in the library on breastfeeding, you will be much better prepared to overcome those issues and advocate for yourself.
I’ve taken some pretty crummy breastfeeding classes, so I created my own! The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class offers all the information you need to prepare during pregnancy to breastfeed and get off to the right start.
- 24/7, On Demand Access
- Engaging videos that are designed to make you feel like you are in an actual class
- Written material
- Lifetime access – have a problem in the middle of the night? Just pull up the course on your phone to find that tip you were trying to remember
- Partner Preparation Sections to ensure your partner is prepared to be a supportive partner during the breastfeeding process
- Advice from a mom of three who has encountered just about EVERY breastfeeding problem you can imagine – who also happens to be a Certified Lactation Educator and an IBCLC student.
- Affordable – just $39 and should qualify as an HSA/FSA expense.
You can learn more about this class here. I’ve poured my heart and soul into it, and I think you’ll love it.
We also offer a couple of “mini classes” that are even less expensive (between $14.99 and $24.99) that you might enjoy.
Even if you decide to take a different class, I would just encourage you to take something. Prenatal education is one of the most important things you can do to prepare!
Find a Breastfeeding Support Network
Mothers who have support for breastfeeding often feel more empowered. They have a place to turn to share their joys and successes, as well as their problems and ask questions.
Ideally, you will have a supportive partner that can be your biggest cheerleader – but that doesn’t always happen. Even when it does, it’s still great to have others to turn to – especially those well-versed in breastfeeding.
While you are pregnant, you can seek out resources in your community or even online that may be a support to you after you give birth. It’s especially important to know of a lactation professional (like an IBCLC) just in case you need immediate help after birth. Take it from me – running around trying to find someone in the midst of troubles is not fun.
Here are some resources you can look into finding:
- IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)
- Family members and friends who have breastfed
- Breastfeeding Supportive Pediatrician
- ICPA Certified Chiropractor
- CST that works with children
- Online Support Group (be careful to find one that requires the information shared to be research-based. Terrible advice can be found in these groups! This is the group I run – feel free to join!)
- Community Support Group
- You can often find these at doctor’s offices, stand-alone lactation practices, county health departments, WIC, La Leche League, etc.
Although all my courses don’t include a private Facebook group, the top tier for The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class has a private group that includes office hours with me!
Identify any Barriers to Breastfeeding
Some problems that can arise with breastfeeding may not be apparent until your baby arrives. However, by looking at your personal health history, your past experiences, and your feelings about breastfeeding (and those of people you associate with) can you help you determine if there will be anything that might make it more difficult for you to breastfeed.
It’s not common practice to do a physical exam on a mother’s breasts before she gives birth, however, it can be helpful to be evaluated for Insufficient Glandular Tissue (often referred to as IGT).
While most women physically can breastfeed, there is a certain percentage of women who physically will not be able to produce enough breast milk for their baby. I go over this in detail in “The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class”.
Order Your Breast Pump
In the United States, it is required for insurance companies to cover a breast pump. While coverage varies from carrier to carrier, figuring out your insurance coverage before you give birth – and placing the order for your pump as soon as you are able – is a great thing you can do to prepare.
Whether you plan to pump or not, I think it’s good to have a pump just in case. I didn’t plan to pump with my second baby, but it became necessary, and I had to scramble to find a breast pump in a very short period of time.
You can check your eligibility through Aeroflow. They will tell you what pumps you are eligible for, help you place the order, and they often include a few goodies, too.
If you are interested in pumping, but you don’t want our entire breastfeeding course, Demystifying Pumping and Breast Milk might be a good option for you!
Buy Other Supplies & Set up Nursing Stations
Breastfeeding doesn’t require a TON, but there are some supplies that make life a little bit easier. You can check out my favorite breastfeeding supplies here.
I also recommend setting up some nursing/diaper changing stations around your house. These can have items like:
- Nursing Pads
- Nipple Cream/Balm
- Hydrogel Pads
- Water Bottles
Be sure to check out this post for more ideas – Simple Breastfeeding Basket Ideas: From a Mom of (Almost) 3.
I made a few of this with my third baby, and they were a LIFESAVER. We live in a two story house, which was a lot different than when we had our first baby in a two-bedroom apartment. Having everything I needed anywhere in the house was so convenient, especially during recovery.
How did you prepare to breastfeed? Is there anything you would have done different? Be sure to check out “The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class” to get you prepared as much as possible!
Other Breastfeeding Posts You May Enjoy:
- Sudden Drop in Milk Supply? 15 Possible Culprits
- Breastfeeding and Pacifier Use: Everything You Need to Know
- 5 Breastfeeding Facts You May Not Know About
- Tips on Breastfeeding Newborns: Everything You Need to Know
- 13 Myths about Extended Breastfeeding
- The Best Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms (Love, Moms Who’ve Been There)
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.