Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean that it will come naturally to everyone. For some parent/baby pairs, breastfeeding can be the single biggest challenge of the newborn period. Thankfully, most are able to get the hang of breastfeeding pretty quickly. We know now that the more support, education, and resources a new parent has, the more success they will ultimately have in their breastfeeding journey and the happier they will be with the experience. The perfect time to begin preparing to breastfeed is while you are still pregnant!
STEP ONE: RESEARCH
The internet is your friend! Here are some good links to check about the early days of breastfeeding:
Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation
Give the “Breastfeeding Basics” section a once-over for some good tips and information.
KellyMom is an evidence-based website run by Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC. We recommend reading the articles “Starting out right” and “How does milk production work?”.
Breastfeeding on Youtube
Seeing real babies latch on to real breasts can be extremely helpful to draw on when the time comes to breastfeed your own baby. You may try searching “breastfeeding latch”, “breastfeeding a newborn”, or “newborn breastfeeding”.
STEP TWO: SUPPLIES
You don’t need a ton of supplies in order to breastfeed, but they may make your life easier. Here are a few things we recommend having on hand before your baby arrives:
- Nipple cream (Lansinoh brand is great)
- Breast pads to catch leaks
- Breastfeeding pillow for positioning and comfort
- Nursing bra- since your breasts will change size frequently, consider using an underwire-free “crossover” style or “sleep” bra to help avoid spots that dig or pinch, which could lead to plugged ducts.
- Burp cloths/receiving blankets- good for catching leaks, spit ups, and spills
Later on, you may wish to have a pump to have milk on hand for when you’re away from your baby, to allow a partner to feed the baby, or for supply problems. But please know that you don’t need to pump if your baby is born healthy, full-term, and if you don’t have any supply problems. More than likely, your baby and your body will work together to bring in your milk and regulate your supply perfectly.
STEP THREE: SUPPORT
Everyone has advice about how to feed your baby. Make sure you’re set up with a solid foundation of support people and resources before your baby arrives, so that when you need their help, you know exactly who to contact.
Your care provider
Your midwife, doctor, or OB is a great place to start asking questions. Consider making a list of your breastfeeding-related questions in preparation for your next appointment.
La Leche League meetings
LLL is a worldwide peer-to-peer breastfeeding support network. Support and in-person assistance are free of charge at meetings, which are held monthly. We have an active LLL group here in Nanaimo, and we strongly encourage you to attend a meeting before your baby is born, and to keep going after you give birth!
Vancouver Island Public Health
The Nanaimo Public Health Unit offers free drop-in breastfeeding support from registered nurses. No appointment is necessary.
1665 Grant Ave
Lactation counselors and consultants
Harbour City Doulas provides one-to-one, customized breastfeeding support in the comfort of your own home or at the hospital to families in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and the Parksville area. Specially trained in breastfeeding support, we can help you figure out a latch issue, improve your positioning, address discomfort and supply concerns, and answer your breastfeeding questions.
A visit to a lactation consultant is often helpful to diagnose problems, supply issues, and to provide expert support. If you decide to hire a lactation consultant, make sure you find an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). These individuals have undergone extensive trainin g in breastfeeding and are experts in their field.