Get Ready To Breastfeed!

There is so much to think about during pregnancy.  The birth of course, and the baby's name, how to decorate his room, which stroller to buy.... how to breastfeed!  Immediately  following the birth, with this wonderful new little person in your arms searching for your breast, is not the best time to begin wondering, what do I do now?  Take some time during the pregnancy to get ready to breastfeed.

What Do I Need To Know?

Babies are born with reflexes and instincts that enable them to breastfeed.  What a new mother needs to know is how to help her baby use their inborn abilities.  This begins immediately after the birth when most babies are in a quiet alert state and their instincts are at their strongest.  Before the birth, you should learn how to make the most of this important time and how get the best start to breastfeeding.

Knowing what constitutes a good latch i.e. how the baby attaches to the breast, and how to achieve it will make breastfeeding much easier for you and your baby.  A good latch means pain free feedings, good breast drainage, a plentiful milk supply and a satisfied baby.

Proper breastfeeding management is also crucial to successful feeding, such as knowing how to watch your baby for signs of hunger instead of the clock.

Sources of Information

In a different time and place, young women learned to breastfeed by watching other women.  Extended families lived together and girls would grow up watching their aunts breastfeed.  There are other cultures, still today, where women breastfeed their babies out in the open, presenting learning opportunities for girls and young women.  Today we try to recreate that atmosphere at breastfeeding support groups such as Le Leche League.  LLL encourages pregnant women to come to their meetings to see what normal breastfeeding is.  While there, a pregnant woman can ask questions and form a relationship to a group leader or other breastfeeding women who will be able to help her after birth.

Most prenatal classes spend some time on breastfeeding.  Check before choosing a class if a significant time will be spent on breastfeeding.  You may want to take a class that covers breastfeeding exclusively.  Many lactation consultants (IBCLCs) offer these classes.

Of course, there is always plenty to read.  Make sure that what you read is up to date since what we know about breastfeeding changes all the time.  Like wise, what you read should be written by experts in the field.  Breastfeeding advice found in books on general baby care is often inaccurate.  My favorite new book for mothers is Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws For Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbach IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett Ph.D. IBCLC.  Another good place to start is the with the links in this article.

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