Preparing for Breastfeeding While You Are Pregnant
Learn what’s “normal”, breastfeeding tips, and helpful information before your baby arrives.
In our last post, Content Manager Maggie shared her story and showed us how rocky the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be. Maggie, and all of us here at BeauGen want to help educate and empower you for the start of your breastfeeding journey to hopefully make it an enjoyable experience for you and baby. In this post, we’ll go over some tips on how to prepare for breastfeeding while you are pregnant.
We understand that you have a lot going on in the final weeks of your pregnancy. Finalizing your nursery, preparing your birth plan, washing itty bitty baby clothes, baby proofing your home and now we’re heaping on learning about breastfeeding. But, taking some time to read up on this important part of motherhood can help to smooth out the first few weeks of your baby’s life.
Not every woman can breastfeed her baby, produces enough milk to feed her baby, or enjoys a stress-free breastfeeding journey. And all of this is normal. In fact, one third of BeauGen customers say that they purchase our breast pump cushions because they cannot physically breastfeed their baby. It’s almost impossible to tell if you will be one of these women before your baby is born. However, learning about breastfeeding and alternatives for feeding your baby breastmilk can help prepare you to feed your baby, regardless if it’s from your breast or a bottle.
How to Prepare for Breastfeeding:
1. Take a Course
We’ve partnered with Milkology to put together a powerful set of online breastfeeding courses. These courses are self paced, and packed full of helpful information on how to prepare, how to breastfeed, how to pump, and more. You can find these courses here. These courses are the ultimate way to prepare for breastfeeding while you are still pregnant.
In our courses you’ll learn:
- Where your milk comes from
- The nutritional value of breastfeeding
- The benefits for moms who breastfeed
- How to boost your supply naturally and effectively
- And so much more!
2. Find FREE Breastfeeding Resources
Your hospital system, insurance company, or healthcare provider might offer helpful free resources to new moms. There might also be local resources that you can reach out to for help if you need it. Check out our post on various types of community resources. On top of all of these resources, there are plenty of online resources and communities that provide solidarity, information, and more. In fact, BeauGen created a useful digital ebook called “Breastfeeding A Newborn: What to Really Expect” that gives advice and tips from the perspectives of mamas who have been there. Receive your free ebook by clicking here.
3. Plan Ahead
As you might expect, a newborn is going to dictate your schedule. Itty bitty babies have tinsy weensy tummies. When you bring home your baby, your schedule will change quite a bit. Learning how often newborns feed ahead of time can help to prepare you for this new chapter in your life.
4. Research and Make a Breastfeeding Plan
Plans can be very helpful tools because they help you think about big decisions ahead of time so that you are prepared to make them confidently. For example, a breastfeeding plan will often ask questions about whether you want to use pacifiers, or room with your baby.
While you shouldn’t try to physically express milk before your baby arrives, you can learn how to hold your baby to breastfeed. From the football hold to the cradle, there are a few different positions that you can try. Learning these ahead of time will also help you practice with the lactation specialist during your hospital stay.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies will cover a breast pump at little or no charge to a new mother. Call your insurance provider before your baby is born so that you can learn how to get a free or low-cost breast pump. You might not end up needing the pump, but having one as a backup to breastfeeding can be a stress-reliever for new moms.
7. Order a Pump
Once you contact your insurance company to find out what pumps they will or will not cover, take a little bit of time to research the options. There are a lot of choices out there, from manual hand pumps to hands-free to double electric and more! Understanding your options will help you select a pump that works best for your needs. For example, if you are returning to work after maternity leave and plan to continue to breastfeed, you will need a good breast pump to keep up your supply and give your childcare provider breastmilk to bottle feed your baby.
8. Shop for a Pumping and/or Nursing Bra
A good bra makes all the difference, right? With nursing and pumping this still holds true. If you’re nursing, this bra will help you to discreetly and conveniently nurse. Even if you aren’t nursing, getting a two-in-one bra enables you to use it for pumping too! There are also some hacks out there for turning a nursing bra into a pumping bra if you can’t find one that you like. Don’t forget to pack a nursing bra or two in your hospital bag for when you deliver.
9. Update Your Wardrobe
A great excuse to do a bit of shopping, whether you're pumping or nursing, having clothing that makes accessing your breasts quickly will drastically reduce the amount of fuss in your life. Both in terms of your hungry baby demanding to be fed now, and/or for the many pumping sessions during your day. There are many fun and functional nursing options available now for moms, so kick up your feet and enjoy some online shopping!
10. Prepare a Space for Nursing or Pumping
It’s time to find a quiet space in your house with the lactation items you’ll need nearby. You’ll be spending a lot of time there, especially in the early weeks, so make sure your space is comfortable and has everything you and baby might need within an arm’s reach. Stocking that space with snacks, water, pump parts, and some burp cloths will also help to reduce stress and strain. Check out this blog post to read up on tips for preparing your nursing / pumping space.
11. Stock up on Snacks
Breastfeeding moms need about 500 extra calories in their day. Certain foods and snacks can also help to boost your milk supply. There’s a good chance you’re going to want something to munch on while feeding or pumping for your baby. Do yourself a favor and have your go to snacks on hand, and within reach. Just make sure these aren’t accessible to younger children or pets.
12. Invest in Water Bottles
A breastfeeding mama needs to hydrate. In fact, when you nurse (or pump), there is a good chance that you will experience a strong thirst. This is natural and works to help ensure that you are getting enough water to replenish the milk you are expressing. Take a moment to find your favorite water bottle, glass, or cup and then grab a few extra ones to have around the house or a spare for when one is in the dishwasher.
13. Learn the Law
Breastfeeding is your legal right. Every state has a law that protects a mother’s right to breastfeed in public or in a private location. If you plan to breastfeed, it’s nice to know that you have legal rights and what those entail in case someone ever does question you. This is not to say that you will be questioned. Thanks to the awesome work of groups like La Leche League and Breastfeeding.org, breastfeeding in public is becoming more accepted.
14. Talk to Your Employer
If you’re a working mom, there’s a good chance you are going to have to talk to your employer about your maternity leave plans. Use this time to also talk about your needs when you return from maternity leave. If you plan to breastfeed your baby, you will need to pump during your working day to maintain your supply and to build a reserve of milk for your childcare provider. In some states, your employer must provide you with a private space to pump and the time to do so. You can check this resource for more information.
15. Keep It Cool
Investing in a small cooler is a great idea. For moms who pump, a cooler is essential for transporting your milk but you can also use it to store your pump parts in between pumps. A cooler is also a discrete way to store these items in a shared work refrigerator and reduce the chances of someone accidentally using your breast milk as creamer. Add an ice pack to your cooler to store your breast milk discreetly at your desk.
16. Keep a Log Book
In your first couple pediatric appointments, your baby’s doctor and nurses will ask you if you are breastfeeding or using formula. They’ll also ask questions about how often your baby eats or how many ounces (if you bottle feed) that they are eating as well as how many wet and soiled diapers your baby produces daily. The first few days of motherhood seem a little hazy, so having a tracker or a place to record this will help you easily answer these questions. BeauGen offers a handy dandy tracker for moms that even includes diaper changes, and how much water you are drinking throughout the day. As a new mom there is a lot to keep track of and a tool such as this can be incredibly helpful.
By taking an online course or two, doing a little bit of research via free online resources, and preparing for breastfeeding with a bit of retail therapy, you’ll feel much more empowered and ready to begin your breastfeeding journey. Not everyone’s journeys look the same, but being prepared will help your first few weeks of motherhood feel a little less stressful.