Preparing for Breastfeeding
Updated: Feb 23
Breastfeeding is an extraordinary journey for you and your baby. However, many mothers face difficulties when starting. The good news is that getting ready and planning for this unique journey will make things easier for you and your baby with time and practice. In fact, breastfeeding training relies more on your mental attitude rather than physical preparation. In today’s article, we’ll be covering all the stages of preparation for breastfeeding, from antenatal to three days postpartum.
Antenatal breastfeeding preparation
Many mothers partake in antenatal breastfeeding preparation, also known as learning how to breastfeed and understand your body’s changes. Some antenatal preparation consists of a short, single, individual counseling session combined with educational material. It’s important to know that your body is preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant, whether you realize it or not. For example, one of the ways your body prepares is through a noticeable increase in breast size. The reason why your breasts grow so large during pregnancy is that your milk ducts and milk-producing cells expand, increasing blood flow to your breasts.
To effectively prepare for breastfeeding upon delivery, learning everything you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born will make breastfeeding simpler. You can take the steps by talking to breastfeeding counselors and nursing mothers, taking breastfeeding lessons, and reading books and other material. The more you learn about how to get started and the advantages of nursing, the more likely you will succeed. You can also buy breastfeeding products to make the breastfeeding journey more comfortable and convenient, such as nursing bras, nursing tops, nursing pillows, breast pads, and breast pumps.
A study in Singapore found that mothers who received simple antenatal instruction were twice as likely to practice exclusive or predominant breastfeeding three to six months postpartum than mothers who did not receive formal antenatal education. (1)
Postnatal breastfeeding instructions
Breastfeeding should begin shortly after the birth of your child. Soon after birth, babies may search for the breast. As such, a mother should allow her baby to feed when the baby indicates it is ready. (2)
Hospitals and birthing centers, healthcare staff, states, and other relevant people must endorse early and exclusive breastfeeding. There are many postnatal instructions for a mother to follow upon delivery to make sure breastfeeding goes smoothly. Here are some of the basics for all mothers to follow:
Begin skin-to-skin contact immediately upon delivery until the end of the first breastfeeding session has many benefits. It regulates infant body temperature, helps the baby feel safe by recognizing their mother's voice and smell, increases the chances of breastfeeding, extends breastfeeding length, and improves exclusive breastfeeding rates. (3)
Initiate breastfeeding with the help of healthcare staff - this encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding with more confidence.
Hold your infant in one of several positions while breastfeeding.
There is no single "best" position; the best is relaxing for the mother and encouraging the infant to latch on. The baby does not have to move their head to nurse in any position. The best way to ensure this is to align the baby's nose with the mother's nipple.
Request that your baby not be given pacifiers, sugar water, or formula unless medically necessary.
Enable your baby to spend the whole day and night in your hospital room so you can breastfeed regularly.
Keep a close eye on your baby’s suckling and swallowing. To receive enough milk, an infant must suckle and swallow correctly. The key is that the infant's swallowing should be noticeable.
Breastfeeding at home and role of family members
It takes a village to feed your child. Time, practice, patience, and teamwork are all required. Your family - mainly your partner - will be essential in supporting you in meeting your breastfeeding goals. Sit down with your partner and other family members and discuss how they can help you breastfeed. They can assist by:
Helping around the house
Helping with breastfeeding position
Being a good listener when you need to talk
Sharing responsibility by taking care of the baby (changing diapers, cuddling, and spending time with them)
Preparing a healthy meal for the baby that doesn’t result in gases
Showing appreciation, love, and kindness during your breastfeeding journey
Keeping an eye on the baby to allow you to take a break to rest and sleep
Follow up education three days postpartum
Most breastfeeding mums need support after returning home from the hospital. Following up will allow mothers to have more time to ask and have the support and knowledge they need.
According to a study done in Turkey (4), breastfeeding education and support offered during a home visit on three days postpartum showed a significant increase in the percentage of exclusively breastfed infants at two weeks, six weeks, and six months. It was also associated with a substantial increase in exclusive breastfeeding and total breastfeeding duration. They also observed increased breastfeeding knowledge scores in the intervention group at two weeks and six weeks after delivery compared to the control group’s respective scores. Results showed that (4) breastfeeding education offered at home on three days postpartum effectively increased breastfeeding duration and breastfeeding knowledge.
In conclusion, there are many steps and stages to preparing for breastfeeding. It’s essential to be as prepared as possible for the beautiful journey you will embark on with your baby. Not only are you getting to know your baby by understanding your baby’s cues, but you understand how your body works and how you are providing your baby with adequate nutrition. The proper education and support from all ends will make your journey much easier and more enjoyable.
From the Mommy Zone team, we are always here for you.
Matter, Mary How-Jing FRCOG, M. et. Al. (2007) Simple Antenatal Preparation to Improve Breastfeeding Practice, Obstetrics & Gynecology.