5 Ways to Prepare For Your Lactation Experience During The Prenatal Period
Pregnancy is such an exciting time. You’ll spend most of these nine months getting organized and prepared for your baby’s arrival. In the midst of preparing your nursery, getting your car seat, and making your birth plan, it’s also a good time to start preparing for your feeding journey. No matter how you plan to feed your baby, educating yourself and preparing for what to expect will greatly benefit you! This post outlines five key things that can be done during the prenatal period to help make your lactation-related feeding journey (whether you’re nursing or pumping) a little bit easier.
- Study up with lactation books
There is so much to learn during the prenatal stage. One of the best places to get more information about almost every aspect of milk making is from reading! A few of my favorite books for lactation include:
– Mother Food, a book all about using foods and herbs to help support milk making!
– Baby Led Breastfeeding, a laid back approach on all things breastfeeding related.
– Sweet Sleep, a book focusing on positive sleep habits for an exclusively nursing parent.
– Making More Milk, a book all about making more milk, of course… but it also goes really in depth about low milk supply causes and possible ways to improve milk supply.
- Take a lactation class
I highly recommend taking a lactation class in order to learn a bit more about? the physical aspects of feeding. This will give you an opportunity to have your questions answered, especially if the class is in person. If you find an online option, there is usually an option to ask the instructor questions too! There are tons of great online options out there, but if you’re low on time, you can check out my Masterclass: Hospital Feeding Course and see if it’s the right fit for you!
- Get a breast pump (through insurance, if possible!)
A lot of people assume that since they won’t need the pump immediately that they don’t need to get their pump early either. Well, as we know, we can make plans but things don’t always go exactly how we envisioned. Having your pump at home and ready to go is good back up! It also gives you time to play around with the pump and get to know how it works! (side note: pumping during pregnancy is not advised. Please consult your personal health care professional for any medical advice regarding antenatal expression).
- Buy the basics
Many people equate lactation success with the number of products they have. In actuality, you don’t initially need much to make nursing or pumping work for you! As time goes on, you may need to purchase more items once you learn more about feedings but in the beginning, just get the basics. Don’t go overboard. Some key items would include things like nipple cream or butter, hydrogel pads for nipple tenderness, hot/cold gel pads for engorgement and to stimulate letdown, and possibly a nursing pillow.
- Establish a feeding plan
It can be helpful to make a rough plan of how you want to feed and how you’ll manage when things aren’t going your way! Maybe stock up on some bottles even if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed – you never know how breastfeeding will go and what might come up. A feeding plan would also include incorporating a visit with lactation in order to assess your feedings. (Most U.S. insurance plans cover outpatient lactation visits!)
Erica Campbell is a former Registered Nurse and current Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), she’s also a mama of two! From her professional and personal experience, she had a revelation about education for breastfeeding mothers. While working on the floor as a Mother/Baby RN, she noticed mothers struggling with the first few days of breastfeeding. They didn’t know what to expect or how to overcome those beginner obstacles. The raw emotions from childbirth combined with the feelings of guilt were enough for her to see that something must be done to help these women achieve their goals.
The Milk Manual is a resource for all parents enduring their breastfeeding journey. Whether this is your very first experience or you’re in the final days of breastfeeding, it’s Erica’s goal to help make your journey as smooth and beautiful as possible. Follow Erica on Instagram @themilkmanual.