Preparing to Breastfeed: Best Tips from Lactation Professionals

“How should I prepare for breastfeeding before my baby arrives?” Helping families get ready for breastfeeding/chestfeeding is a common role for lactation consultants.

We asked our members to share some tips  and strategies with families.

“ . . . Go and see and be around other nursing mothers, make connections with other families and support people during pregnancy. . .Talk to your partner about what breastfeeding means to you and what you think might be helpful from them (and not). Often the partner (if one is involved) says or does things that hurt the breastfeeding person without realizing it. In my class, we practice how the partner can share and show love and concern by asking what the mom needs in that moment (vs. giving advice or dismissive comments).” -Roxanna Farnsworth, IBCLC

“Ask about your hospital or birth center’s policy on skin-to-skin and the . . .  hours [immediately] after birth. Plan for uninterrupted skin-to-skin and breastfeeding for a minimum of 1-2 hours or longer if needed. Prepare your family that you will be limiting visitors during this time.” -Chasta Carson Hite, IBCLC

“My advice? Take a prenatal breastfeeding class, and set up a prenatal education consult with an IBCLC if you can. Learn & practice hand expression, so you can get good at it by the time you need it- it is really beneficial!” -Bryna Sampey, IBCLC

“Watch others breastfeed, ask lots of questions.” -Claire Clark, IBCLC

“Focus on learning about what normal newborn breastfeeding behaviors are! They are very different from that beautiful 5-month-old you may have seen breastfeeding . . .” -Lynette Beard, IBCLC

“Surround yourself with support (find your village) and join [a peer-to-peer breastfeeding support group].” -Maria Ryan, IBCLC

“Do your homework, join [a peer-to-peer lactation support group] and make contact with your local group. Mothering is jolly hard work . . . not the breastfeeding! The first 6 weeks are the hardest. There is heaps of help and support out there. Know where it is.” -Ellen Prendergast, IBCLC

“Determination is key and having a positive influence for support on your journey. [Take a] breastfeeding prenatal class prior to delivery. [Contact] a lactation consultant in hospital when needed. Having contact information of a lactation consultant and breastfeeding support in your community to support your personal breastfeeding goals so that you can have your best experience possible!” -Angie Hilliard, IBCLC

Find an IBCLC to help with your questions about lactation and employment or your other breastfeeding questions.

Find an IBCLC

What is an IBCLC?

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding and lactation.

An IBCLC is an invaluable asset to breastfeeding families, reassuring you when lactation are going well, and by providing information and support to help prevent and manage common concerns. IBCLCs help with:

  • Prenatal counseling about the factors that may affect breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and lactation
  • Basic position and latch of the infant
  • Information about practices that promote successful lactation
  • Preventing and managing common concerns such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast/chest pain, and calming a fussy baby
  • Milk expression and storage for parents who must be separated from their babies
  • Strategies for lactation after returning to work
  • Breastfeeding and lactation in challenging situations, such as feeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations.

Lactation consultants, do you have other tips to share?

Families, do you have questions? Share them here!

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