Pregnant and wondering if there’s anything you should be doing to prepare for breastfeeding? Kathy Venter, a lactation consultant with the DAN Women & Babies Program, has supported thousands of patients in establishing breastfeeding with their babies.
Here are Kathy’s four tips for success:
Let friends and family know you’ll need support while establishing breastfeeding
Kathy recommends telling loved ones you’ll need space and quiet time while establishing breastfeeding. To ensure sustained milk production, breastfeeding early, frequently and effectively is key. It takes approximately six weeks until full milk production is established. “Prepare family and friends for this period by telling them they can support you in a number of ways, like doing laundry, running errands, walking the dog, meal preparation and cleaning,” says Kathy. “People want to help when there’s a new baby and this provides some helpful suggestions.”
Tell your care team you’re interested in breastfeeding
Communicating your intent to breastfeed – with your midwife, obstetrician or family physician – is key before having your baby. Kathy is quick to note that your care team should have this on their radar too, and can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Make a note of breast changes during pregnancy, and practice gentle breast massage in preparation to breastfeed, suggests Kathy.
Research the value of skin-to-skin contact immediately after your baby is born
By initiating skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, and continuing until after the first successful breastfeed, you’re setting yourself up for success. Not only does this contact establish the bond between you and your baby, it also signals to your body to start making milk and colostrum. Colostrum is the nutrient-filled fluid produced before milk is released, which can help boost your baby’s immune system and protect them from illnesses in their first few months.
Ask for help or support if you need it
Breastfeeding, like parenting, is a process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support along the way.
Here are some additional, trusted online resources for more information: