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Prenatal Checklist: My Top 5 Tips for Preparing Yourself for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey

The journey of motherhood is a remarkable one, filled with joy, anticipation, and a deep connection with your growing baby. As you prepare to welcome your little one into the world, you’re likely considering many aspects of motherhood, including birth preparation and attending antenatal classes. But what about breastfeeding? 

Many mothers think that because breastfeeding is a physiological process, their baby will naturally start breastfeeding without any issues. It’s true that sometimes breastfeeding can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but unfortunately, it also comes with its own set of challenges and uncertainties. The good news is that with the right preparation and knowledge, you can set yourself up for a successful breastfeeding journey. 

Let’s delve into this blog to understand why it’s so important to prepare yourself during your pregnancy, and I’ll give you my top 5 tips to start your breastfeeding journey on the right foot.

Why is it so Important to Prepare for Your Breastfeeding Journey?

In general, parents often prioritise birth preparation, investing time and money in various courses, from antenatal classes to baby care and breastfeeding. These classes offer valuable knowledge and opportunities to meet other expectant families. However, given the breadth of topics covered, they may provide only a general understanding of each subject. 

This is particularly true for breastfeeding, which is a complex and nuanced topic that can’t be fully covered in just one or two hours of instruction. Consequently, many mothers I’ve worked with express surprise and frustration, saying, “I can’t believe that, despite the amount of money we spent on courses, we’re struggling so much with breastfeeding”, or “Why didn’t anyone inform us about harvesting colostrum, tongue ties, or the importance of the golden hours (which I’ll discuss in a separate post because it warrants a full blog)?” 

The reason why it’s so important to prepare yourself is primarily that facing difficulties is more manageable when you know what to expect and what not to expect. Being informed will allow you to distinguish between normal baby behaviour and signs that something may be amiss. 

My Top 5 Tips for Preparing Yourself During Pregnancy for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey

1. Information is key: One of the most valuable pieces of advice for pregnant women is to gather as much information as possible about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding training has been shown to increase the prevalence and duration of breastfeeding among mothers. 

2. Choose an IBCLC lactation consultant: Just as you want the best for your baby, you also deserve the best support. I highly recommend getting in touch with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), the most qualified expert in breastfeeding. An IBCLC can help you prepare for your baby’s arrival and provide personalised support once your little one arrives. 

3. Take a breastfeeding antenatal session: I strongly recommend scheduling a customized antenatal consultation with the IBCLC you choose, either in person or online, around weeks 34-35 of your pregnancy. These sessions are tailored to address your specific concerns and fears and concerns when to comes to breastfeeding, allowing you to set goals together and ensuring that you feel empowered and confidence as you embark on this journey. 

4. Build a support system: Breastfeeding is a team effort, and having a strong support system in place can make all the difference. Talk to your partner about your breastfeeding goals and discuss how they can provide emotional support and assistance with household tasks during those early days when you’re establishing breastfeeding. Consider joining breastfeeding support groups to connect with other mothers on a similar journey. 

5. Get breastfeeding essentials: While breastfeeding doesn’t require many supplies to get started, marketing and lack of knowledge often lead mothers to unnecessary purchases. Basic essentials include breastfeeding bras, nursing pads, and a breast pump if you plan to express milk. However, if you’re uncertain about the latter, it’s advisable to wait and decide based on your needs as you progress (a more specific blog about what to buy will be provided). In case you do require a breast pump, research your options to make an informed decision based on your goals and situation.

Preparing for a successful breastfeeding journey during pregnancy is a proactive and empowering step for expectant mothers. By educating yourself, building a support system, scheduling a personalised antenatal session, getting in touch with an IBCLC and acquiring breastfeeding essentials, you’ll be well-equipped and prepared to embrace the beauty and challenges of breastfeeding when your baby arrives. While no one fully prepares mothers for the intensity of those initial days and weeks, it’s always better to be informed and surrounded by professionals who can help you navigate this process with confidence and empowerment. 

Remember that every breastfeeding journey is unique, and what matters most is the bond you’ll form with your baby as you nourish them with love and care. Trust in yourself, seek help when needed, and cherish every moment of this incredible journey. 

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