Breastfeeding offers many benefits to both mother and child. While your body is already hard at work getting ready to take on the role of breastfeeding, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself, as well. Here’s what you need to know.
Taking time to familiarize yourself with breastfeeding before your due date is a valuable way to set yourself up for success. Books and your local La Leche League are both good resources. Additionally, many hospitals offer breastfeeding classes and support groups. And don’t forget about the wisdom of other moms; if you have friends who have breastfed, they can be a terrific source of information.
One thing you can cross off your list when preparing to breastfeed? Toughening your nipples. While this used to be a standard part of preparing to breastfeed, it’s now commonly regarded to be a myth, according to Parents.com. In reality, teaching your baby to latch on properly is the best way to prevent sore nipples.
As your pregnancy progresses your breasts will get bigger. This occurs as milk ducts and milk-producing cells develop. Whatever size your breasts are, you can still produce enough milk to feed your baby. Whether your breasts grow or not, nursing bras offer comfortable support with flaps which can be easily undone when it’s time to feed your baby. Wait until your milk comes in to stock up, though, as your breasts may continue to grow after delivery.
In addition to nursing bras, a number of other supplies can help your feel comfortable while nursing. Many new moms swear by nursing pillows which offer neck and shoulder support during feeding sessions. These can also help keep your baby in optimal position.
Breast pumps can to be indispensable tools. Pumping and freezing milk can allow your partner to feed the baby and/or relieve you during late-night feeding sessions. But even if you don’t plan on bottle feeding, a breast pump can help relieve engorgement.
While breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. Take time to discuss breastfeeding in advance with your partner. Learn each others’ goals and discuss how you can support each other in achieving them. For some women, this means limiting visitors in the immediate days following their baby’s birth so they can acclimate with breastfeeding free of interruptions and distractions.
Your choice of pediatrician also plays a role in breastfeeding success. Some pediatricians are more knowledgeable and supportive about breastfeeding than others. Establish your intent to breastfeed while interviewing pediatricians to find the best partner.
Informing your birth team about your plans to breastfeed and establishing a pro-breastfeeding hospital plan are also important. Request the services of a certified lactation consultant who can help you with positioning and latch. Room in with your baby so you can nurse on demand, and don’t forget the value of skin-on-skin contact.
You’ve probably been cautioned to “sleep when your baby is sleeping.” As well-rested mamas are more likely to experience breastfeeding success, take this advice to heart.
Breastfeeding and Exercise
Many women worry that exercising during pregnancy will interfere with their milk supply. Fitness-minded mamas need not worry; as long as you make sure to stay hydrated and ingest enough calories, you can return to your normal fitness routine.
Because your breast size may have changed, you’ll need comfortable, well-fitting maternity activewear. Look for bras designed not just to see you through pregnancy, but also to offer support in the post-delivery days.
Breastfeeding is a great way to get your baby off to a healthy start! If you have any breastfeeding tips of your own to share, please comment below. And be sure to visit For Two Fitness to browse our collection of chic, comfortable workout tops.
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