As your due date gets closer, you may be wondering how to prepare for breastfeeding. If you have your heart set on breastfeeding your baby, there are some ways you can start to prepare at the end of your pregnancy that can make it a little bit easier.
For lots of people, breastfeeding can be really challenging, painful, and stressful. By doing some preparation ahead of time by making sure you have the knowledge and equipment you’ll need, you may make this transition into parenthood smoother.
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How To Prepare For Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
There a few key ways you can prepare for your breastfeeding journey while you are still pregnant.
Learn About Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has a steep learning curve and unfortunately, you must learn how to do it while also learning to care for a newborn as well as heal from childbirth, all with minimal sleep.
You can give yourself a leg up by learning as much as you can about breastfeeding before baby is born.
Books About Breastfeeding
There are lots of great books about breastfeeding that will give you all of the basics so you’ll know the terminology and what to expect.
With so many breastfeeding books to choose from and so little time to read, it can be challenging to decide on which to spend your time and money. These two are my favorites for straightforward information, without judgment:
Latch: A Handbook For Breastfeeding With Confidence At Every Stage
This is a great book to learn breastfeeding basics from getting started to troubleshooting all the way through to weaning. It is easy to read, fairly quick, and packed with info.
If you are only going to read one book about breastfeeding, make it this one!
Short, sweet, and very funny, you can learn a ton with this quick read. While it isn’t as in-depth, it offers a good overview of breastfeeding basics with all the key points and does so in an entertaining way with lots of helpful pictures.
Take A Class
A great way to make sure you are well-informed about breastfeeding is to take a class. They are often offered through your Hospital or OB practice. Classes may even be covered by your health insurance.
If you can’t find a local class or none work with your schedule, there are also lots of online options and some are even free.
If you really want to breastfeed, I highly recommend taking a class. It’s the most efficient way to get a ton of important information, be able to ask questions, meet other parents, and find out about resources and support available.
You honestly don’t need to buy too much to breastfeed, but there are some things that will make it much easier.
We have an entire post about our favorite breastfeeding must-haves that includes product reviews and our top recommendations (check it out here), but let’s go over some basic necessities.
- Nursing pads – The reality of breastfeeding is that you will leak. Make sure you have some nursing pads ready to go as soon as your milk comes in. These disposable nursing pads are absorbent and discrete.
- Nipple cream – Unfortunately, sore and chafed nipples are extremely common when you start breastfeeding. Be prepared with nipple cream on hand.
- Breast Pump – Your health insurance should cover a breast pump, but they may have certain restrictions or specified vendors so be sure to check your policy.
- Breastfeeding Pillow – It may not seem like a necessity but how long can you hold 8 lbs of squirming, wobbly neck newborn next to your boob? Your arms get tired. Getting into the right position to latch and holding there is surprisingly challenging especially at first and a nursing pillow will be so helpful and literally supportive. We love the Boppy, a super popular choice, but I also like the My Brest Friend too, they each have pros and cons so check out my comparison here.
- Nursing bra – So you do not necessarily NEED to buy a nursing bra before baby arrives, however, they are super convenient and if you end up needing to purchase bras while pregnant, a soft and stretchy nursing bra will come in super handy. No need to go overboard since your size could change after birth. Your band may get smaller, though your boobs could get even bigger. Go for a stretchy, comfy material that will accommodate your breasts changes.
RELATED How to Set up the Perfect Breastfeeding Station
Will you need more than this if you continue breastfeeding? Yes, definitely, you’ll need things like milk storage bags for pumped breast milk, plus bottles to feed expressed milk, and most likely more nursing bras and either nursing tops or shirts that make your boobs easily accessible. You don’t necessarily need all of that to get started though.
Once you’ve bought all the supplies, get them organized so they are ready for when you need them. You often accumulate a ton of baby stuff as your due date approaches so sort out the breastfeeding supplies you’ll need right away.
I like to make a breastfeeding station where I have everything I need on hand and within reach when you’re chair bound nursing. I wrote about setting up my station with a full list of everything I use which you can read here.
Basically, I put together a basket with all of the breastfeeding supplies I need like nursing pads and nipple cream, plus some extras that just make life easier like a water bottle and chapstick. I have this ready by a comfy chair so it’s just waiting for baby and I.
Line Up Support
Know what resources are available in case you struggle with breastfeeding. If things aren’t going well, you’ll probably be incredibly stressed and worried, may not be sleeping much, may be in pain, and finding help at that point may just seem too difficult. Find out where you can get support now so you know who to contact then.
Find lactation consultants in your area and have their number ready just in case. Your hospital, OB office, or pediatrician office may have lactation consultants on staff that you see. If not, your OB may have a list of lactation consultants they recommend. Unless you can pay out of pocket, be sure to check if they accept your health insurance.
RELATED How to Support a Breastfeeding Partner
How Do I Prepare My Breasts for Breastfeeding?
Good news, you don’t have to do anything to prepare your breasts or nipples for breastfeeding. Your body is taking care of that on its own.
Apparently, it was once advised that you toughen up your nipples before breastfeeding, but that isn’t evidence-based or supported by research.
If you have any medical concerns like previous surgeries or inverted nipples, you can bring these up to your doctor to see what options or support may be available if breastfeeding is impacted.
READ How to Combine Breastfeeding and Pumping
A Final Note On Preparing To Breastfeed
As with so many parts of parenting, sometimes things do not go the way we had hoped or expected. For some, breastfeeding does not work out despite your efforts. Know that even if you’ve prepared, there’s no guarantees, so keep in mind that it’s most important that mom and baby are happy and healthy.
A bit of preparation though can make your life much easier as you learn to breastfeed your newborn and help you face any challenges that may arise.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any more tips to prepare for breastfeeding? Share your thoughts in the comments!