6 Steps You Can Take During Pregnancy to Help Meet Your Breastfeeding Goals
Breastfeeding has been one of my favorite moments in parenting for many reasons. It has always been a desire of mine to feel the close bond that others talk about throughout breastfeeding and when I made it a big goal of mine to breastfeed my 3rd child until she self-weaned – something I was unable to do with my first two children – I was nervous. I didn't want to “fail” again (fail at reaching my own personal goals) and so I worked to set myself up for the best I could to meet my own goals before the baby was born — while I was still pregnant.
We spend a lot of time preparing to make sure we have all the stuff we need for our babies when they are born. We have a crib and the bedding ready. We have their clothes bought, washed, and hung neatly. We have a swing and a stroller, and pacifiers, but rarely do we think about breastfeeding. If you're planning to breastfeed you may believe there are no preparations to be made, but if you have your own personal breastfeeding goals, setting yourself up to meet them while you're still pregnant can make a huge difference.
Click through to read 6 steps you can take while you're pregnant to help aid your personal breastfeeding goals.
Go to a breastfeeding support group
Those local support groups are not only beneficial when you're already breastfeeding and maybe struggling, they're a great place to go when you're wanting to learn more about breastfeeding, before you actually begin. There you'll get advice from women who are experienced, a chance to ask questions, and an opportunity to develop a great support group to go to if you do have any issues.
Read a great book
We spend a lot of time reading books like What to Expect When You're Expecting while pregnant and while the typical pregnancy books cover breastfeeding as a topic, grabbing a book just on breastfeeding is great to read while you're pregnant. My two recommendations: Guide to Breastfeeding by Dr. Jack Newman, Amazon $25.18 and Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman, Amazon $11.30
Know your hospital
There are some hospitals that are more “breastfeeding friendly” than others, and getting to know the hospital where you will be giving birth can help you meet your goals. You'll want to make sure the hospital policy is to not give formula without written consent and that they have lactation consultants on staff to help if needed.
Talk to your partner
Getting your partner on board with your hopes and goals for breastfeeding can go a real long way in how breastfeeding goes. During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, when it's at its hardest — your partner may try to “fix” the trouble you're having and this could undermine your confidence. Not on purpose, of course. You need to have your partner well-versed in the “normal” breastfeeding struggles and ready to be a positive cheerleader when you need one. A research study published in the May 2013 issue of International Breastfeeding Journal found, “Mothers feel more capable and confident about breastfeeding when they perceive their partners are supportive by way of verbal encouragement and active involvement in breastfeeding activities. Mothers with partners who seemed ambivalent, motivated only by ‘what's best for baby,' or provided negative feedback about breastfeeding, felt less confident in their ability to breastfeed.”
Get to know the “boobie traps”
Breastfeeding, while natural, is not always easy and there are a lot of societal issues that can hold a woman back from meeting her personal breastfeeding goals whatever they are. Best for Babes, an organization that works to support women during breastfeeding, lays out the many “boobie traps” that can work against a woman's desire to breastfeed which you can read about on their website.
Don't prepare for the worst
One big difference I made when my third child was born, was to not prepare for the “what if I can't breastfeed” fears. What that means is I didn't have any formula on hand. No bottles. No pump. And I promised to keep it that way for at least 6 weeks — the time period I found breastfeeding to be the most challenging. I found that in the moments at 2:00 am where I was tired, so tired, and wondering if my baby was screaming because he was hungry, that not having formula and bottles to turn to in those desperate moments made a huge difference. By 6 weeks, my milk was established and I was more used to living on little sleep and everything seemed much more manageable.
How did you reach your breastfeeding goals?