It can feel like a really big question: “How do you plan to feed your baby?”. And although we know that breastfeeding SHOULD be the answer that we give, and for many of us we wholeheartedly want and plan to breastfeed our baby (or babies!)….. thinking about feeding your little one can often bring up some complicated feelings and I want to tell you that that’s ok!
What I do know from working with many many families and from having 3 VERY different breastfeeding experiences myself, is that doing some exploring and planning in your pregnancy can make a huge difference to how confident and positive you feel in your decisions and what you’re actually doing when the time comes.
Here’s my top tips for getting ready to feed your baby:
Seek out some breastfeeding education
Even if you’re not sure if breastfeeding is for you, I encourage you to go along to a class or do some reading so that you can find out a little bit more about what it’s like. Essentials to know are:
- How breastfeeding actually works
- What is normal behaviour for a newborn baby How frequently they feed and sleep etc.
- How to get a comfortable latch
- How to know if you need help and where to find it.
- How to know your baby is getting enough milk.
- What to do after birth and in the first hours to get breastfeeding off to a good start
Have a look around to see if there’s a class near you. There are online courses too and plenty of good books on the subject.
Uncover your infant feeding story
We all come to parenthood with pre-conceived ideas about how babies behave and should be looked after. Infant feeding is a complex subject which can bring up a lot of emotions and views. By exploring your feelings and the feelings of those close to you, on how babies are fed, it can alert you to any potential issues before they arise. Many couples have never talked about their thought on breastfeeding before their baby is born, so it can come as a surprise if later on they find out that they feel very differently about it. Opening up these conversations early on can bring you closer and help start you off on the same page when your little one arrives.
If you’re worried about whether breastfeeding will hurt or that you won’t have enough milk, then acknowledging that before your baby arrives means that you can seek out the relevant information and support for a more positive and confident outlook.
Equally, if you’re still wondering if breastfeeding is for you, then this is a great way to delve into your feelings and find some clarity on what’s important to you. There’s no need to make any firm decisions at all before your baby arrives, you can go with the flow and see how you feel when the times comes.
Surround yourself with breastfeeding
We live in a society where breastfeeding isn’t seen very much. What that means for expectant Mums is that we haven’t built up a subconscious picture of what it actually looks like, or what to expect. Breastfeeding is absolutely what our bodies and our babies expect to do after birth, but if it feels alien to us then we have a pretty steep learning curve ahead!
Immersing yourself in breastfeeding now, may sound like a strange suggestion, but you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes and it’s never too early to get ready to feed your baby. Here’s some ideas:
- Spend time with breastfeeding friends or family – ask lots of questions – They’re likely to be very happy to share.
- Visit your local breastfeeding Group and watch breastfeeding in action – groups are always excited to see pregnant Mums!
- Start following breastfeeding on social media. On Instagram following #breastfeeding will start you off on a great path to feeding your baby.
In the early days and weeks breastfeeding takes time a patience (It does get easier later on!) Prioritise it by planning how your early phase of parenthood is going to look like.
- Who will visit? Are you comfortable breastfeeding around them?
- Who is looking after you so you can focus on feeding?
- What extra help might you want to arrange? Childcare for older ones? A cleaner? Some meals in the freezer or food delivery?
Breastfeeding support is needed by so many women. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you are struggling in any way. If you‘ve been to your local breastfeeding group then hopefully you’ll already know a friendly face. There are several breastfeeding support charities like Le Leche League and the NCT who run support services as well as helpful telephone support lines like the National Breastfeeding Helpline. You may wish for some one to one support from a Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). IBCLCs are highly trained and very experienced in helping with a wide range of breastfeeding issues.
I hope I’ve inspired you to do a bit of planning in pregnancy before your baby arrives. Remember breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it looks different to everybody, the key is being open and honest about how you feel and seeking out support if you’re struggling.