If you are reading this article while you are pregnant- congratulations! You have already started to prepare for breastfeeding by looking at resources on the internet. You may have already noticed that there are a lot of opinions about breastfeeding out there. The best source for research based breastfeeding information is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). IBCLCs have at least 1000 hours of supervised experience with mothers and babies, and must pass an extensive board certification exam. They also have stringent continuing education requirements. Many of my fellow IBCLCs maintain blogs and websites that have great information.
Take A Class: I offer a Breastfeeding Basics class right here in my office at The Mind Body Collective in Waterford. We will give you information to get you on the best start to your breastfeeding journey.
What Do I Need to Buy? : Really, nothing- all you need is the baby. I will say that there are a few things that would be very helpful to have when your new baby arrives. I recommend having at least three soft, comfortable nursing bras that are underwire-free. The best time to purchase these is during your last trimester. It is also wise to have some kind of nipple cream in the event of mild nipple soreness (which is very normal in those first few weeks). If you are lucky, and don’t need the nipple cream for sore nipples, it also works well as a diaper rash cream. Finally, you will need some breast pads. In the first weeks of breastfeeding, you will likely leak breastmilk. Don’t worry, the leaking won’t last forever. Until it stops, you will want to wear breast pads. There are some lovely breast pads out there (especially the washable kind).
WAIT?? What about pumps? What about my “free” insurance pump? : I don’t recommend purchasing a pump until after the baby comes. If you are dead set on the free insurance pump, go ahead and request one (but keep in mind that insurance companies are looking out for their own interests, not yours. They often provide pumps that are cheaper and less durable than ones sold in stores). If you are not working, you may never need a pump. Hand expression can be as good, if not better, at expressing milk if you only need to occasionally. An IBCLC can show you how to do this. If you need to return to work, a double electric pump can be pretty darn convenient. However, there is no need to build up a giant freezer stash of milk before you go back. If you get the pump a week or two before you need to go back to work, and pump a day’s worth of milk, that will be sufficient.
Preparing for Life as a Breastfeeding Mom: You will be breastfeeding all the time. There is no way around this. When babies are born, they are used to getting food 24/7. Your baby is not going to go several hours between feedings, and frankly, it’s not natural to go that long between feedings. Babies are always concerned about where their next meal is coming from, so they tend to stay near the food (That’s you, mama). Set up a comfortable spot on the couch or favorite chair, and enjoy a movie or TV show. Once that baby gets mobile, you won’t be doing that so much anymore- now is your chance!
Join a Free Breastfeeding Support Group: Yes, you can and should go to these meetings while you are pregnant! In Oakland County Michigan, we have a wonderful group called Meet Nurse Love that holds meetings in both Pontiac and Southfield http://oaklandcountybfingcoalition.weebly.com/meet-nurse-love.html.
Also, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac offers a breastfeeding support group every Tuesday. http://www.stjoesoakland.org/breastfeeding
An added bonus is that the St. Joseph Mercy Oakland group is facilitated by an IBCLC! A group that is well known and well deserving of its reputation in helping breastfeeding mothers, is La Leche League. You can find a local meeting by going to their website www.llli.org.
What If I Have Problems? For most moms, breastfeeding goes very smoothly, and the mom and baby never have any issues. If you do have problems with breastfeeding, we are here for you! Professional Breastfeeding Support is open 7 days a week, and we are usually able to schedule appointments within 24 hours of your distress call. If we are not able to see you, we can refer you to another qualified IBCLC.
© Pamela Anzicek, The Mind Body Collective, 2016