Preparing to Breastfeed During Your Pregnancy
Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your child. Breastmilk feeding is a wonderful gift you can give your child and we want to help you get off the best start possible. To increase your chances of being satisfied and successful with your breastfeeding experience, there are some things you can do to prepare while you are pregnant.
Learn about Breastfeeding or Breast Milk Feeding and begin to decide if breastfeeding will be the best feeding choice for you and your baby.
Talk to Your Partner or Support Person (Persons)
Talk to them about your wishes for your feeding plan and how they can be supportive of you.
Talk to Friends Who Have Breastfed
Consider finding resources, both personal and local, that can assist you with breastfeeding questions and your journey.
Sign up for WIC Benefits, if You Qualify
If you receive Husky insurance or SNAP benefits, or meet the income guidelines, you should apply for WIC benefits as soon as you find out you are pregnant. They will be able to assist you during your pregnancy and continue to support you after your baby is born. WIC provides support in areas such as breastfeeding, prenatal and postpartum nutrition, and infant and toddler nutrition.
To apply for services please call 860-358-4070 or apply through the WIC Program website.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Health
There are certain conditions that may make breastfeeding more difficult. If you have any of the following conditions or circumstances, it may be appropriate to speak with a lactation consultant during your pregnancy, so they can personalize a plan to make your experience as successful as possible.
Some of these conditions or circumstances include:
- This is your first baby or breastfed baby
- You are over the age of 35
- The degree of success you've had with breastfeeding in the past
- History of breast surgery
- Infertility and subsequent intervention/treatment
- Maternal health problems such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Promotes bonding and prevents engorgement
- Reduces bleeding after birth
- Breastmilk has the ideal nutritional composition. It contains everything your baby needs to grow
- Lowers the risk of asthma and allergies, ear infections and respiratory infections and diarrhea
- Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Lowers the risk of childhood cancer
- Improves antibody response to vaccines
The Importance of Exclusive Breastfeeding
- It is important to provide only breastmilk in the first few weeks to build a good milk supply
- Breastfeeding works on supply and demand, the more you nurse your baby, the more milk your body makes
- The first several weeks “set” your milk supply
- Breastmilk is the optimal food for your baby to grow and develop for the first 6 months
- Babies exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and episodes of diarrhea
Books For Breastfeeding
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion
- Work Pump Repeat
Examine Your Breasts
Often overlooked for preparing to breastfeed is to determine if your nipples could cause difficulty. Some breastfeeding problems are caused by flat or inverted nipples or very dense areolas. If you have any concerns, you should reach out to a lactation consultant prenatally.
Continue to Educate Yourself
Read and watch information from reputable sources.
- It's Worth It!
- Ready, Set, Baby’
- Womens Health
- La Leche League
- Connecticut Department of Health
- Baby Friendly USA
- American Academy of Pediatrics Breastfeeding Information
- CDC Breastfeeding Information
Non-Pharmacological Pain Relief Methods of Labor
- There are options for non-pharmacological pain relief methods in labor
- These may include warm water (baths/showers), essential oils and massage
- To learn more about all both non-pharmacological and pharmacological methods of pain relief
- Breastfeed as often as your baby wants
- Helps establish a good milk supply
- Helps the baby get just the right amount to eat
- Helps prevent breastfeeding complications
- Helps the baby to be settled and content
Create a Breastfeeding Feeding Plan
Create your feeding plan as part of our birth plan located here.
Take a Prenatal Breastfeeding Class
It is important to learn this new topic when you are able to absorb information. Pregnant women who learn about how to breastfeed in advance are more likely to breastfeed than those who do not. Breastfeeding classes offer pregnant women and their partners the chance to prepare and ask questions before the baby's arrival.
Middlesex Health offers a prenatal breastfeeding class taught by one of our lactation consultants. Register here.
Choose a Pediatrician
It is important to choose a provider for your baby. You will be able to see what type of breastfeeding support they have available for you. If they do not have a lactation consultant, be sure to ask who they refer to for difficulties.
Middlesex Health does offer outpatient lactation visits after hospital discharge as well. (Most insurances accepted)
Get the Items You Might Need to Breastfeed
- Supportive Nursing Bras
- Nursing tanks or pajamas with easy access for nursing
- Nursing Pads
- Nipple Cream
- Nursing Pillow
- Breast Pump (manual or electric)- Check with your insurance about your coverage for a breast pump
Learn The Breastfeeding Positions and Practice Them
Once you have taken a breastfeeding class or reviewed some of the other resources, begin to practice positioning and become more comfortable before your baby's arrival. It is important to learn the proper latch and positioning techniques. These techniques can help prevent nipple discomfort or damage and ensure the baby will get enough milk and you will make enough milk.
Skin-to-Skin Contact and Early Breastfeeding
Ideally if both mom and infant are medically stable, we should strive for 1hr of uninterrupted skin-to skin-time immediately after delivery. nSkin-to-skin helps stabilize baby's vital signs and keep the baby warm. It also promotes early initiation of breastfeeding, which has shown to improve latching and the overall success rates of breastfeeding.
Rooming-In on a 24 Hour Basis
The baby will stay in the same room, with the mom throughout the whole entire hospital stay
- Helps mom better learn the baby’s feeding cues
- Helps promote on demand or baby-led feeding
- Helps baby to recognize mom
- Helps mom learn how to care for infant
Frequency of Feeding in Relation to Establishing A Milk Supply
On demand feeding with a minimum of 10-12x in a 24 hour period is the goal for especially the first few days. Frequent removal of milk from the body, helps signal the body to make more.
Risks of Supplementation
If your goal is to exclusively breastfeed, then you should try not to supplement unless advised by a provider. Early supplementation can make the baby less content with breastfeed, reduce milk supply, and make the baby more susceptible to illness.
Continuing of Breastfeeding After Introduction of Appropriate Complementary Foods
Breastfeeding can still provide substantial micronutrients and contribute 35-40% of energy needs. Nutritional impact of breastfeeding is most evident during periods of illness when the child’s appetite for other foods decreases but breastmilk intake is maintained.