Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Breastfeeding: Preparing to Breastfeed

Twelve Simple Tips to Help You Prepare to Breastfeed

I was one of those gals who decided to breastfeed simply because I'm educated and knew it was more nutritious. I thought it would be natural and easy. To my surprise it was pretty hard and it was something we both had to learn how to do. I discovered that for many women it is hard in the beginning. Once we got past the hard parts I have come to LOVE nursing. It is bliss. It is probably the single best experience of my entire life. And so I'm an advocate, a lactivist. Below are resources I wish someone would have given me while pregnant. Of course there is an abundance of information I could provide but I have chosen my personal top twelve.

1. Read - "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding". It is an amazing book on breastfeeding. You want to know this information because often times nurses in the hospital simply are uniformed and may try to scare you into giving formula. Not only that but it helps you have information on how to latch which is so important and hard to learn after giving birth exhaustion. I can promise you this information will be helpful. I cannot tell you how many times I referenced this book when first breastfeeding and wished I had read it before giving birth.

2. Read - "Breastfeeding Cafe".
This book talks a bit of the politics of breastfeeding and is informational. But the real reason you should read it is because it is a compilation of real women's breastfeeding stories. If you read these you will have an idea on how to face BF challenges, what is normal, how other women manage night time feedings and going back to work. It is an abundance of real-time helpful information that is so easy to read because of the first person narratives.

3. Find - Your local LLL (llli.org).
La Leche Leaders will help you with any breastfeeding issues that may arise. Not only that but you can meet other moms who BF in your area which is fun and supportive.

4. Find - An IBCLC in your area (not just an LC) that is free or accepts your insurance (or is otherwise affordable)
. Find a Lactation Consultant. Breastfeeding complications can arise and when they do too many women talk with the Pediatrician, a Nurse, an OB etc.. These people are quite often only educated about breastfeeding at a rudimentary level and more often than not give very poor advice. When you have an issue with breastfeeding it is important you see a specialist. That would be a lactation consultant. You can choose to see any lactation consultant but I recommend an IBCLC. This is an international certification that means you are getting someone very well trained and well experienced.

5. Watch - Newman's breastfeeding videos here:
Newman Breastfeeding Clinic Videos . These videos will let you see what a good latch looks like. Latching is when baby attaches to the breast. It will let you see what a baby drinking vs. comfort sucking looks like which you will later know why it is important. There is nothing more valuable than actually seeing for yourself what these things look like.

6. Review - Newman's diagram on how to latch found here:
When Latching . This is one of the most helpful diagrams I have seen on how to latch your baby. If you ever end up with nipple pain come back to this diagram and follow the steps. Pre-birth it is nice to know what a good latch consists of. I can tell you having several nurses come in and out of my room telling me a hundred different things was not helpful. I wish I would have reviewed this.

7. Become Familiar With - Kellymom.com.
This website has researched based information on all things breastfeeding. If you have a question regarding breastfeeding, pumping, introducing solid foods etc.. you can find the information here. I check it several times a week when I have random or important questions.

8. Become Familiar With - Your local breastfeeding laws and the new federal pumping law:
Breastfeeding laws.

9. Create - A birthplan and make multiple copies. Post up signs that say breastfeeding only if you are giving birth in a hospital or birthing center. If supplementation is required get a second opinion and choose donor milk over formula.

Your birth plan can have several breastfeeding components:
a. You plan to Breastfeed
b. You require breastfeeding to be initiated within the first hour of life
c. You want to see a lactation consultant after birth
d. You do not want formula, bottles, or binkies offered to your baby
e. That you understand some weight loss post birth is normal and you do not want pressured to feed your baby formula to return this weight too quickly.
f. That you understand milk comes in, on average, around day four so you do not want pressured to feel as if your milk is not coming in soon enough.
g. That if they feel your baby needs supplementing you want a prescription for donor milk and a second opinion.
h. That if your baby needs supplementing you want to use alternative feeding methods and not a bottle. Alternative Feeding Methods.
i. If you have a premature baby and are unable to breastfeed initially you want to have kanagroo care and provide pumped milk for your baby.

10. Watch - This video on extended nursing: Nursing Beyond One.

11. Become Familiar With - The "two shirt" method. This method will help you nurse in public more comfortably. Nursing in public can be done in baby steps but once you get the hang of it you will be more free to live life with your baby instead of staying trapped in your house. It is normal and natural. If using a cover works for you then please go ahead. Instead of using a cover you can use the "two shirt" method. Practice in front of a mirror if you would like to with a doll. This is the method: Wear two shirts. The bottom shirt should be a nursing tank or a tank that has stretch straps like a spaghetti strap tank or a V neck. When nursing pull up your top shirt and pull your bottom shirt down. Using this method you will be covered very well.

12. Don't - Get caught up in the supply myth. Very few women have a true inability to produce enough milk for their baby. Many women however feel their supply is not enough due to several reasons, one common reason is fussing at the breast because of their pumping output. Pumping output is NOT an indicator of supply and neither is fussing at the breast. The best indicator of low supply is that your baby is not having enough wet diapers during the day and possibly lack of weight gain.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics: "Because of difficulty in estimating the percentage of mothers whose milk supply is truly insufficient, data on the prevalence of insufficient milk supply among breastfeeding mothers are limited.However, in 4 studies of self-selected populations of women who decided to breastfeed exclusively for at least 3 to 4 months, [less than]5% of the
mothers were unable to produce enough milk to accomplish their infant’s weight gain.30–33 These results suggest that women’s perception of having a low milk supply might, in many cases, be attributable to their lack of knowledge regarding the normal process of lactation or to technical difficulties in feeding rather than to an actual inability to produce a sufficient quantity of milk."


  1. These are great tips! Excellent resources too - let me know if you are interested in doing some research for a new site, we are looking to compile resources for lots of different areas :)
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  2. awesome tips... im going to recommend this to everyone i know.