10 Things You Should Know About Breastfeeding Before Baby Arrives

Start looking at different positions to breastfeed.

At first when I started, I just cradled baby in my arms and nursed. Your arms will get so tired if you just use one position. Changing up positions was a life saver, but it took me forever because I had no idea how many different positions you can use to breastfeed. Also, you might find it is easier to nurse in some positions more than others.

By spending some time before baby arrives learning about them, you will be better equipped once baby arrives. If you search breastfeeding positions on Pinterest or google images, then you will get some really good demonstrations.

And my absolute favorite breastfeeding position is lying in bed with baby. You lay on your side and baby nurses by laying next to you. It is super comfortable and cuddly.

Do you need a nursing pillow?

Some people love them, and others don’t. Personally, I found it more of a hassle. Also, at first when your belly is still big, it can be very hard to use. I really wish I had kept it in the box so I could return it. Birthing centers almost always have one so you can try it out there and then decide if you want to keep yours.

Check insurance on what is covered

The two big things to ask now by calling your insurance company are:

  • if lactation services are covered and ask for the name and numbers of a few in network
  • if a breast pump is covered, what types and where to get it

Ask your birthing center about breastfeeding

The two best questions to ask during your hospital/birthing center tour are:

  • if they have lactation consultants on staff and what hours are they available. If you have a baby at night, then you might not be able to see a lactation consultant till the next morning.
  • if they can provide a breastfeeding pump for you to take home. Usually if they do this, then they can also charge your insurance for you.

Also, while you are learning about breastfeeding before baby arrives, write down all your questions. Bring these questions and have the lactation consultant answer them. Also, ask the lactation consultant what are the best ways to get help once you go home. Sometimes, they don’t mind you coming back in or calling them.

I also liked getting my breast pump at the hospital so that I could have the lactation consultant show me how to use it before I brought it home.

Ask your pediatrician and midwife/OB about breastfeeding resources

It is really key to know how to get help before you start. When you have a hungry baby, you need to know how to get help fast and immediately.

The best way to find breastfeeding support is to ask your midwife/OB or your pediatrician. A lot of hospitals or pediatrician offices have a lactation consultant on staff or they have a breastfeeding group that meets every week ran by a lactation consultant.

I found a breastfeeding group and loved it. Not only did it help me breastfeed but also allowed me to connect with other new moms who were going through it all at the same time. It was amazing to have a social group to relate to.

One of the reasons I actually picked my pediatrician is that she was a mom who had nursed her babies so I knew she would be able to relate to me. I felt much more comfortable asking her questions about nursing.

Join online groups

On Facebook, there are a lot of new mom, baby sleep and breastfeeding groups. Some of these are by topic like breastfeeding and some are by location. I suggest joining a bunch now. The posts and comments can give you some insight and be a great place to post questions when you reach that point.

Make a nursing basket/caddy for each floor

I had this idea that I would just nurse in the nursing chair in the nursery. That idea went out the window the first day home. The idea of changing baby’s diaper only in the nursing also was very unrealistic.

Since you nurse so often, it is best to have multiple places in the house to nurse. You can nurse on the couch, in the bed or in a nursing chair. Really you can nurse anywhere. I nursed on a yoga ball while doing little bounces to soothe baby many times. I even learned to nurse her in her wrap carrier.

To make nursing anywhere easier, you want to use a caddy or basket to keep all of your nursing supplies in. This way, it can travel with you and you can reach it while nursing. Another thing that helps is getting a few small end tables and placing them at the end of couches and near chairs if you don’t already have some.

Lastly, if you have a C-section, you might be nursing in bed and changing diapers in bed. A nursing/diaper changing caddy will really help you here. You also need to avoid doing lots of stairs the first few weeks after a C-section.

What to put in your nursing/diaper changing caddy?

  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Tracker (pen and paper)
  • Changing pad
  • Nipple Cream
  • Extra Breast Pads
  • Burp Cloth
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper Cream

I eventually made two of these nursing caddies after being home that first week and they were game changing.

Set up for a nighttime nursing

The first few nights home were really tough. I would wake up to complete darkness, stumble my way to baby, change baby and then try to nurse her in a nursing chair. I was not set up to make night time nursing to be quick, easy, and soothing.

First, start by investing in a dimmable nightlight or a touch lamp. I got a reading touch lamp that I had right next to my bed. It gave me enough light to move about without being super bright. You want to maintain the dark environment so both you and baby can go back to sleep easily.

Next, set baby up near your bed so you don’t have to go to the nursery. This is of course personal preference, but I quickly realized, having baby close by meant a lot more sleep for me. I could get to her quicker and before she was super awake.

Another tip is to get good nighttime diapers so unless it’s poop, you don’t have to change them. This is a huge time saver during night wakeups and will get you more sleep.

You want nighttime nursing to be as easy as it can be, so take time to optimize your setup now. It is more important than the nursery setup during those first few months. Most babies can not sleep through the night until at least 4 months and night time nursing is important for your milk supply. The lactation consultant I saw also told me that night nursing is really helpful in increasing supply because the hormone that is related to milk production is regenerated through sleep.  

Load up on healthy foods and a good water bottle

Breastfeeding requires a lot of calories and water. If you don’t eat enough or drink enough, then you won’t make enough milk.

So first, get a good water bottle or two and keep them handy while you nurse. A good habit that I tried to stick to was to drink water every time I nursed.

I also wanted to lose the baby weight, so I wanted to be sure I was eating healthy options. I made granola bars, trail mix and freezer meals before baby arrived. I always kept a healthy snack near me while I nursed. You want to be sure to get enough healthy fats (avocado, nuts, etc) and protein. There are also some great breastfeeding smoothie recipes, so find some now to bookmark for later.

I gained over 60 pounds with each pregnancy. I ate a lot while breastfeeding and still lost weight because I wasn’t eating ice cream and chips but instead healthy whole foods. I was back to my original weight after 4 months.

Pursue Breastfeeding Today

Breastfeeding is a wonderful beautiful way to bond with baby. It is a learning experience that both you and baby will go through together.

At first, breastfeeding is harder than bottles but after about 6 weeks, it is easier than bottles. It is truly one of the best ways to bond with baby so take some time while you are pregnant to prepare.

Learn as much as you can about nursing. Find resources both locally and online. Find out how your birthing center and pediatrician will support breastfeeding. Lastly, prep your house so you are ready when baby comes home.

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