Your baby is due any minute and you can’t wait for the birth. But what about breastfeeding? For first time mums, the thought of breastfeeding may seem a little daunting, but with a little preparation, it doesn’t have to be anything to stress about.
Watch our chat all about breastfeeding (story continues below).
According to Midwife Tylah, one of the best ways to prepare for breastfeeding is to familiarise yourself with your breasts – and an excellent way to do this is through expressing antenatally.
“There’s not really anything that can quite simulate the newborn and their true suction power,” she says. “However, I would say antenatally expressing is going to be your biggest help.” As well as helping you to learn how it might feel, this gives you the chance to start looking after your breasts, keeping them moisturised and testing any products you’ve bought, such as nipple creams or compresses.
“Trying them all out and getting really familiar with them, so that you’re not having to use them for the first time when you’re exhausted and have a crying baby, is probably your best bet,” says Midwife Tylah.
One thing you will need when you start breastfeeding is support. Midwife Tylah suggests making sure that people around you understand the breastfeeding journey and are ready with words of encouragement. It’s also a good idea for partners to take on certain jobs when you start feeding your baby. “I think the biggest thing is helping out with the nappy changes, because they generally always will come right before or right after breastfeed,” says Midwife Tylah. “So partners, assigning yourself that duty is one big way to allow a mum to get comfortable, get in a good position, maybe quickly go to the toilet have a cup of tea before that breastfeed.”
Midwife Tylah also suggests that partners can also help by familiarising themselves with the process of properly latching on by watching Youtube videos or reading articles. “Even just knowing the resources available, like to be able to call Australian Breastfeeding Association, to be able to pop to the chemist and buy a few things to ease a mother’s comfort,” she says.
Another way to prepare for your breastfeeding journey is to have pain relief and comfort ready and waiting for sore breasts and nipples during those early and often challenging days.
“Have things to suit your nipples, like the Multi-Mam Compresses,” says Midwife Tylah. “Make sure you have paracetamol on hand, make sure you have some ice packs in the fridge or cabbage leaves, which are definitely something traditionally used.”
Stocking up on knowledge about breastfeeding beforehand can be invaluable. Depending on how you learn best, you may want to attend classes, read books or listen to podcasts and audiobooks. “Reading some breastfeeding books, watching videos really familiarising yourself with the process, empowering yourself with knowledge is a really great thing to do,” says Midwife Tylah.
It might be worth booking in to see a lactation consultant to discuss what is going to happen when you start breastfeeding. They’re readily available and can help you prepare for what lies ahead. “A lot of hospitals will have lactation consultants,” says Midwife Tylah. “But they run their own businesses, so I’d have a look at their reviews, ask other mums, the best is that word of mouth recommendation. And then even have a bit of a meeting with them and say, ‘Look, can I have a five minute phone call to see if we’re going to be a right fit?’ – sort of like a job interview and making sure that feel comfortable with them.”
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