Are you planning on breastfeeding your baby? Have you considered how that’s going to go? This post is loaded with tips and resources so that you can be ready once your baby arrives and make breastfeeding a success.
Breastfeeding can be a big challenge and seem overwhelming for a lot of Moms. But it doesn’t have to be.
As a Mom to 4 exclusively breastfed babies, I know first hand the range of struggles that Moms go through. All combined, I’ve spent 6 out of the last 12 years breastfeeding my babies.
And one thing I have realized is that so many of the problems Moms have with breastfeeding can be avoided if you prepare yourself, and are mindful in the first few weeks and months of a few basic principles.
Preparing to breastfeed while you are still pregnant can make it much easier.
So what do you have to do to get ready to nurse a newborn?
Here are 3 basic steps to preparing for breastfeeding before baby arrives:
- Learn everything you can – this includes reading articles and blog post, books on breastfeeding and even taking online courses.
- Gather basic nursing supplies while you are pregnant so that you have the gear you need from day one.
- Prepare your fridge and pantry for breastfeeding – if you think you eat a lot during pregnancy, just wait! Breastfeeding hunger can be even more intense, especially if you do extended breastfeeding. Plus being mindful of your diet is important for producing quality breast milk, healing your body postpartum and minimizing sensitives with baby. This is one step many Moms ignore, but I encourage you to take seriously.
So let’s dive in!
How to Start Breastfeeding Off RIGHT
First we are going to go over a few basics principles that I have learned through my experience breastfeeding 4 babies. These are just observations that I have made. These simple breastfeeding tips can really help you become successful at breastfeeding and make it past the first few weeks.
This is by no means a complete list – just a few things many Moms don’t realize that I think can be helpful.
My biggest breastfeeding tip is to start off right.
By this I mean, from the moment your baby comes out – bring them up to your chest and do skin to skin contact.
This is one of the secrets, in my opinion, to being successful with breastfeeding.
Let your care provider know in advance that you plan to breastfeed, and that as long as everything is ok, that you would like to immediately hold your baby. Most will be happy to oblige. Even if you plan to, or end up having a c-section, this is a request you can make.
What this does is allow your baby to smell you, hear your heartbeat and feel safe on the outside, which will encourage rooting and lead to breastfeeding. The hormones that this interaction produces within you and baby will help to get the milk started.
Be patient as it can take awhile.
The doctor or midwife will need to take your baby at some point for examining, but just keep repeating this process of holding your baby skin-to-skin and staring at them!
Smell matters when it come to breastfeeding
I noticed that smell plays a huge part in successful breastfeeding, that is another reason why skin-to-skin contact is so important for breastfeeding success.
You may want to consider using a basic, non scented soap and avoiding lotions and perfumes in the first few weeks postpartum until breastfeeding is well established. That way there is less confusion and it is easier for your newborn to smell your milk.
You may want to also consider limiting the number of people who hold your baby for the first few days until your milk comes in and breastfeeding is well established.
Make eye contact
This is a big tip many new moms don’t realize. Looking at your baby stimulates your hormones and helps you produce breast milk.
Resist the urge, especially in the first few weeks until nursing is well established, to watch TV or stare at your phone while breastfeeding.
Take this time to stare deeply into your baby’s eyes and bond with them. It will make establishing breastfeeding easier and truly benefit you and your baby in the long run.
Rest is important
One thing that many Moms don’t realize is that being overly tired and stressed can make breastfeeding harder. Staying in bed the first few days (or even week!) can really make a difference in how easy it is to breastfeed.
Get help so that you can focus on your baby. When family and friends offer to help. Let them help with household tasks and you take care of the baby.
You don’t need help with your baby. You need help with everything else.
Ignoring the need to rest can lead to breast infections like mastitis or even postpartum depression.
According to Baby Center:
The best way to prevent mastitis is to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy, balanced diet. The more run down you are, the more susceptible you are to illness.
Do not underestimate the power of simply lying in bed and resting with your baby and feeding when necessary. Especially in the first few weeks postpartum.
Preparing for Breastfeeding While Pregnant
So now we are going to cover the important things to do ahead of time in order to be ready for breastfeeding.
Learning about Breastfeeding
Learning the basics of how basics of how breastfeeding works is important if this is your first time breastfeeding.
One great way to learn the basics is to take a breastfeeding course. Many hospitals and local groups may offer these classes for pregnant Moms who are planning on nursing.
But really, it is nicer and more convenient to learn all about breastfeeding in the comfort of your home at your own pace! Here are a few of my favorite options:
I highly recommend taking this online breastfeeding class from my friend Stacey at Milkology. She is a breastfeeding Mom and lactation consultant too.
She really breaks down everything you need to know so that you can feel confident from the start. All the lessons are easy to watch videos that last about 5 to 10 minutes each. So even if you are pressed for time, you can fit learning into your day.
The Milkology course will have you prepared and will save you from endless googling and searching on Pinterest in the early days when you should be focusing on your newborn and resting.
It is super affordable and definitely one of the best ways I’ve come across to prepare for breastfeeding online.
The awesome thing is Stacey also offers classes on pumping!
- Planning on pumping and going back to work? Check out the Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Course!
- Think you may want to just pump and not feed on the breast? This course on exclusive pumping will teach you everything you need to know to make it successful.
Another great way to learn about breastfeeding is from books. There are a few books that are consistently mentioned by Moms I know as being helpful.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – like a “La Leche League meeting in a book.” This book is a classic and shares stories of many types of breastfeeding Moms, as well as answers to common questions about breastfeeding.
Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding – If you are not familiar with Ina May Gaskin, you should be! She is a well respected midwife who has helped thousands of women have positive, natural births. The advice and wisdom that is shared in this book can guide you on how to more deeply connect with your baby and your own body while breastfeeding.
This book is also available as an audiobook. It would be great to listen to in those early postpartum days when you are resting in bed and your newborn is sleeping. You can get 2 free audiobooks by signing up for Audible here.
Best Breastfeeding Gear for Preparing to Breastfeed
Personally don’t think you need a lot of stuff to breastfeed. Boobs and a baby. But I’m kinda a breastfeeding minimalist.
So here is a short list of essentials for breastfeeding that are super helpful to get ahead of time.
The side that baby is not feeding on will make milk too, this surprised me the first time. You can use re-usable pads like these highly rated bamboo ones, or disposable pads.
But another trick is to simply stop the flow with the back of your wrist…that’s what I did with my last 2 babies and it works well. Just apply pressure for a minute or 2 and the milk will stop.
Breast milk will leak at the craziest times so wearing these in your nursing bra when you go out is a good idea too.
Breast Milk Catcher
These are so cool and a relatively new breastfeeding Mom essential. These weren’t even a thing when I breastfed my older kids, so I have been excited to collect my extra milk with my 5th baby.
There are so many advantages to using a breast milk catcher like this one! It is essentially a way to save the precious milk coming out the other side. But you can also use it for hand expressing. Personally, I like them way better than pumping.
Check out this video to learn more about the advantages of using a milk catcher.
I used one with my first baby and really found it helpful in the beginning. Nursing pillows help with newborns who are still really tiny and need extra support reaching and staying latched to the boob.
You can get a FREE nursing pillow on this site. Just use the code BIRTHEATLOVE40 at checkout and pay Shipping and Handling.
Breast pump – ok so to be honest, I have pumped less than 10 times in my Mom life. I used a hand pump like this when I did, so I can’t really recommend a good electric one.
If you plan on pumping, and haven’t done it before, I would definitely take a look at this online class. It will explain the basics and has some great recommendations for making it work and what kind of pump to get.
You can always use a swaddle blanket. I like these extra large swaddle blankets for that purpose.
But these covers from Udder Covers have a nice little strap that keeps the cover in place a little better. This is helpful especially once your baby starts to move around a bit more and grab at the cover. Use the code MOMSAVE35 to get $35 off your order (which makes many of the designs almost FREE).
Nursing Bras and Clothing
A couple of good nursing bras are MUST. They last a long time and can be used for multiple babies. So don’t be afraid to invest in a good one the first time around. This is a great high quality nursing bra that has great reviews.
Need an affordable, budget friendly nursing bra? This 3-pack of comfy bras is the perfect option.
Nursing tanks like these are also awesome to have! They are great to wear at night, under a shirt and can even substitute for a bra. With a few of these under your pre-pregnancy shirts you can avoid needing to purchase a bunch of breastfeeding clothing.
The last item I recommend getting is a Maternity nursing nightgown like this one from Kindred Bravely. These are great for quick and easy night time feeding sessions. And for lounging around the house in style postpartum.
Breastfeeding Food to Stock up on
The next thing to think about is breastfeeding foods.
Educate yourself first about what to eat while breastfeeding not just to nourish your baby, but also so that you can take care of your body’s needs.
Then begin to plan out how you will stock up on the best foods and meal plan so that you can eat regularly without a lot of stress.
There are some foods that you may want to consider avoiding. Not because they are “bad” for you but because some babies are sensitive to them. If your newborn is uncomfortable after feedings, spits up a lot, or has diaper rash, or eczema you may want to consider eliminating some of the foods listed in this post.
The key is to pay attention to your baby. All babies will be different. But in general, baby should be happy, and peaceful after a feeding. If not, investigate what might be irritating them.
Eating foods that boost lactation is important for establishing a good milk supply. Having a breastfeeding meal plan can really make it easier.
Plus it’s a super smart idea to have an emergency milk booster on hand in case milk supply is ever really low. (Psst – it’s really great at helping jump start postpartum weight loss too)
Try some of the lactation recipes in this post. And stock up on the breastfeeding snacks in this post so that you can always have food on hand when hunger strikes. You are going to need the fuel to feed that growing baby!
And if you’d like to be super prepared and not have to cook in the early weeks postpartum, I highly recommend you make some freezer meals now. My ebook – Healing Freezer Meals for Postpartum and Breastfeeding contains all healthy, breastfeeding friendly recipes that will help establish a good milk supply. Get your copy of the ebook here.
Preparing for breastfeeding is the key to success
Just taking the time to learn about breastfeeding like you are doing now and gathering essentials while still pregnant will make it so much more likely that you will succeed at breastfeeding.
First time breastfeeding? I know it can be totally overwhelming. But really it is easier than you think, so just breathe, you can do this!
Preparing to breastfeed second baby? Take some time to figure out how you can set your life up to be supportive of breastfeeding. Evaluate how things went the first time and how you can improve this time around.
Following the tips in this post you should be off to a great start!
Make sure to pin this post so you can come back for future reference!
More from Birth Eat Love on Breastfeeding
One of our goals here are Birth Eat Love is to make healthy eating easier for busy Moms during pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood. Here are a few more posts that you may find helpful:
Best Breastfeeding Tips for First Time Moms – this post share some helpful tips and resources from experienced breastfeeding Moms.
9 Healthy Soup Recipes for Breastfeeding Moms – easy soup recipes that can help you make more breast milk. These recipes would be great the make as freezer meals.
Best Foods To Eat After Birth For A Strong Postpartum Recovery – what you eat postpartum matters for how you recover. This post shares some great insights on the best foods to eat right after delivery.
Make sure to sign up for our email list below to get your copy of the Ultimate Grocery Shopping List! It’s an easy to use printable that will help you know what to eat and stock up on in the coming weeks.
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