You may have heard of the old wives’ tale that suggests pregnant women “toughen up” their nipples with a washcloth to prepare for breastfeeding. If you think this sounds horrifying, you’re right! There’s absolutely no need to do so – but there are several other (much less painful) ways to get ready for a successful breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding might be natural, but it’s also a learned skill and both you and your baby will be new at it. By learning in advance about how breastfeeding works and identifying where to turn if you need help, you can set yourself up for a fulfilling breastfeeding experience.
Talk to your hospital or healthcare professional about your desire to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding early and often is key to establishing your milk supply and getting off to a good start. A supportive hospital can make a huge difference in your breastfeeding success and certain hospitals have even taken extra steps to support breastfeeding and are designated as Baby-Friendly. Be sure to share your goals with your OB/GYN, nurse midwife, or other birth team members. Consider asking the following questions:
- Is there a Lactation Consultant on staff who I can work with before and after delivery?
- What can be done to support breastfeeding if I need to be separated from my baby immediately after delivery?
Learn about breast pumps.
If you plan on pumping, you can begin researching breast pumps and other breastfeeding accessories. Consider factors like whether or not you’ll need to pump on-the-go and how often you plan to pump. Medela offers a Breastfeeding Personality Quiz to help determine which breast pump might best fit your needs.
Reach out to your insurance provider.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) means that insurers are required to help provide new moms with a breast pump and breastfeeding support. Call your insurance provider and ask what type of pump coverage you have and where you can get your pump. You can also search Medela’s Supplier Lookup to find an insurance-covered pump.
Consider a breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding classes are offered for expectant moms and are a great way to familiarize yourself with the basics. Check with your local hospital or birthing center for more information on classes offered. You can also learn all about breastfeeding via Medela’s online Breastfeeding University, a program of ten short classes designed to prepare both new and expectant moms for the experience of breastfeeding.
Develop a breastfeeding support system.
Not only is it important for you to begin learning about breastfeeding, but it’s also beneficial for your partner, friends, and family to understand the benefits and demands of breastfeeding. If they share the same knowledge as you, they’ll be able to provide the most valuable support and advice.
You can also join Medela on Facebook and Twitter for breastfeeding tips and a supportive, positive community. Feel proud that you’ve made the decision to breastfeed. You’re doing a wonderful thing for you and your baby. Have confidence in yourself and enjoy the journey.