Preparation for breastfeeding
Just as you prepare yourself for deliver delivery, by packing the bag, preparing older kids if you have any, cleaning and baby proofing your house. You need to prepare yourself for breastfeeding your newborn. Preparation is the key to success. Below are my 6 preparatory steps for breastfeeding success:
1. Join a support group.
I started with this point because I honestly think it is the most important. I would recommend joining a support group to any mom even if she doesn’t plan on breastfeeding. Nothing can help you through this difficult phase more than people who are going through it with you. I was going through a very difficult time after my delivery last December, and my friend Rewa recommended I join a Facebook support group that she was part of for breastfeeding moms. I was hesitant at first, thinking really in Lebanon? It’s probably about where to find Gucci nursing bras and LV nursing covers. I was helpless, I gave in, and boy was I wrong about my judgement. “Mama to Mama Beirut Breastfeeding Support” is the number one reason I am still breastfeeding today. It was my little bit of heaven in the new world of chaotic mommy hood, it was where I felt breastfeeding was “normal” and celebrated. "Mama to Mama" was and ofcourse still is a place where if any mom has any questions or rants, she can go on snap her question while in tears at 3:20 a.m with bleeding nipples or a crying baby and would get tens of real answers from real people who know what she going through and know how to fix it. More importantly it is a place where a mom would hear real genuine comforting words such as “You’re the best Mama for your Baby”, “What you’re doing is great”. The group has a classification code to celebrate marking a new period of breastfeeding success. Bronze boobies for 3 months exclusive breastfeeding up to ruby boobies for 3 years. It may sound silly, but you won’t believe how excited I was when I crossed the 1 year breastfeeding mark and posted my Gold accomplishment. Mama to Mama is one of the many groups in Lebanon that provides breastfeeding support, please read "Why moms in Lebanon should run the country instead" for a full list of support groups.
Wherever you are in the world you can/should join a LLL in your area. You might be surprised to know there is a La Leche League group in Lebanon. LLL is an international non-profit organization that provides free support for breastfeeding women. In Lebanon it is run by 2 leaders, Tamara Drenttel Brand and Nadiya Dragan who I was fortunate enough to meet both, and they are nothing short of amazing and motivating with a wealth of knowledge on breastfeeding and other mothering matters. LLL's passion for helping other mothers resonates so much that my sister said she felt as if it were a “cult” of breastfeeding when she attended an LLL meeting with me once. You can join LLL on Facebook “La leche league, Lebanon, Middle east”.
[su_spoiler title="If you would like to know more about my spectacular support system, click away" icon="arrow"]I was very lucky to have delivered within the same month with 2 of my friends Rewa and Rola. If anyone was to see our whatsapp chat logs they would die of laughter/ or of sorrow for our poor states! It was all about poop, and losing the schedule, and not knowing which breast our baby last breastfed on, and having no clue if our babies were full or not. It was one non-stop conversation that peaked at 1.am 2.am 3am 3:30 am 4a.m all the hours that you would rather be asleep than attending to a crying baby with no clue what he/she wants. I will tell you, without them I really do not know what I would have been like during this phase. I can say with all confidence that having a friend during this period can completely transform your motherhood experience. The sympathetic voice that tells you “You’re not wrong to miss your sleep, you’re not wrong to wonder if you’ll ever have your life back or atleast your body back, you’re not wrong to want time of your own, and you’re not wrong to be obsessing over every little detail of your baby’s life from breathing to eating, you’re not wrong because we’re also like that”.[/su_spoiler][caption id="attachment_563" align="aligncenter" width="407"] Breastfeeding can be a bumpy journey where constant breastfeeding support is genuinely needed.[/caption]
2. Equip yourself with knowledge.
Read on the topic. Be picky about your readings though because some resources may not be misleading. If you are a book reader, I highly recommend “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” published by La Leche League as it is the best book out there for a new breastfeeding mom. It has the amazing capability of making you feel as if you are sitting within a group of other mothers sharing stories and tips on the mothering journey. Get it, you won’t regret it. In addition, ask previous or current breastfeeding moms about their experience and about what to expect. The more stories you hear, the easier it’ll come to you. Follow a mommy blog, and read what another mother has to say. Some examples of popular mom blogs are The Milk Meg or The leaky Boob, in Lebanon there is Mamas2Mamas which is a new blog and belongs to an avid breastfeeding supporter. If you're a visual learner, watch videos, follow and subscribe to Galactablog's you tube channel for a generous amount of videos on all areas of breastfeeding categorized by topic that will save you the hassle of searching around the web. Pinterest can also have a lot of helpful information on breast feeding and motherhood. It was really indispensable for me while preparing Karim's baby shower, and it can be just as useful with lactation as well. For one of many interesting boards on lactation you can follow Galactablog’s Pinterest boards for tips and tricks, jokes, quotes, pictures, breastfeeding art, helpful hands outs and much more, and you can take it from there.
In some areas in the world and even in prominent hospitals staff including physicians may have limited or no training on breastfeeding, if you feel like you're flying solo it is even more important to do your own preparation ahead of time. If that’s your case or if you have a specific situation such as inverted nipples and you think you’ll need help on the topic then definitely contact an LLL leader who may refer you to a breastfeeding specialist so she can be there with you on the way of delivery to help guide you through this phase. You can also sign up for a prenatal class which you can probably find links to through the several support groups around.
As part of your preparation. Expect the first period to be a difficult one. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it will be hard. So set your expectations. Read the following post on initiation of breastfeeding and the first few weeks ahead of time. It will help when you equip yourself against what is coming, because winter is coming my friends. That being said, you can definitely do it, and pass with flying colors too.[caption id="attachment_565" align="aligncenter" width="407"] Joking, it's not that bad. Just be as informed as possible.[/caption]
3. Make your breastfeeding priorities clear in your birth plan.
a. Include in your birth plan/ or just inform your doctor that you would like to have skin-to-skin contact with your newborn as soon as he/she is born because this is essential to a successful start of the breastfeeding journey.
[su_spoiler title="Click here for the other amazing benefits of skin to skin" icon="arrow"]The contact will also regulate his/her body temperature, glucose levels, breathing pattern and heart rate. Your baby will be soothed by your familiar scent and heart rate. As for the mother, skin-to-skin allows successful milk production shortly after birth. Actually the data on the advantages of skin-to-skin contact are so strong that this is recommended by the WHO to be a standard procedure all over the world. Read the next post for more information on the benefits and recommendations of skin to skin. [/su_spoiler]
b. Include in your birth plan that you would like to room in, as the constant contact will comfort you and your newborn and allow for a more successful initiation of breastfeeding.
c. Make sure over and over that they do not give your newborn baby a pacifier or a bottle without your permission. I would recommend that you assign your husband or another family member ahead of time to ensure that this is taken care of. Pacifier use or bottle use may cause nipple confusion and the baby may refuse the breast all together. I assigned my sister for this task. Even under my very specific requests and recurrent suggestions, they still managed at the hospital to give him a bottle. I was so furious. So, make sure you repeat it again and again or write on a card “Do not Breastfeed” and attach it to the bassinet.[caption id="attachment_566" align="aligncenter" width="409"] You can print this note and attach it to your baby's crib to inform the nurses not to give your baby a bottle or pacifier[/caption]
Note: A birth plan is highly recommended as it helps your medical team and family members to understand your wishes. You can find a great downloadable birth plan that you can personalize and take with you at Breastmilk every ounce counts.
4. Inform friends and family of your decision and empower them with knowledge of why you made this decision.This is for them to understand you and therefore be able to help and support you. While you're at it, find a person to help you during the initial phase at home. New motherhood can be overwhelming, an extra set of hands can be very helpful. Do not ask people who you know would give you even more anxiety. Some women might tell you to make sure not to have your mother and mother in law both helping you at the same time :p. May cause trouble. [caption id="attachment_567" align="aligncenter" width="406"] Ok, so your single friends won't say that when you inform them of your decision, but your new support group friends will[/caption]
5. Buy the equipment: Don't say this is not your favorite part
A. Nursing pillow: I personally found it helpful for the first few weeks. Do not buy one if you have the large pregnancy pillow, it will do.
B. Maternity(lactation) bra: This is not essential as you could use any loose fitting bra that you have used in the last trimester of pregnancy. It's good to have another spare one for practicality. I bought one and just didn't like using it, I felt the whole buckle unbuckle issue to be annoying. If you opt to buy one, just make sure it does not have wires as wires can block ducts and cause mastitis and other complications. You do not have to purchase breast pads, many women do not leak breast milk. I still have 3 packs closed that I never used. If you do turn out to be a leaker, you can always buy some.
C. Breast pump: A double electric breast pump is necessary if you are a working mom. If you are a stay at home mom on a budget I would recommend you can buy a single electric pump or a manual pump. They are usually inexpensive and practical for less often separation from the baby. If you will always be with your baby, then you may not need a pump at all. My personal recommendation is to buy a double electric pump IF you can afford it anyway, I am 100% sure it will be very beneficial, even if you spent most of your days with your baby like me. I will soon post on pumping guidelines on my rationale behind this, along with all pump buying guidelines.
Note: Buying a pump is not a necessity before you deliver, you can always buy it once you need it a few weeks post birth.
D. Pumping bra: I personally really enjoyed the pumping bra. I couldn't find it where I live so I ordered the miracle bra and asked my brother got it for me from the states. It was a life savior I really enjoyed hands free pumping. That being said, there are some alternative methods you can find online for hands free pumping or you can try making 2 holes in a tank top to hold the pump. Here is a link of a video on DIY nursing bras on Galactablog.
E. Bottles: If you plan on pumping a few bottles would come in handy. Look for the wide base with the wide nipple that interferes least with breastfeeding. You do not need the rest of the gadgets such as bottle warmers. When you do bottle feed make sure you do it in a breastfeeding friendly way, and inform other family members to do so as well.
Note: Please don't go buy expensive nursing clothes and footrests and what not. You don't really need it. Loose fitting shirts will do perfectly fine for discreet breastfeeding. Advertisers love pregnant women and new moms, they loooove to sell us unnecessary things. For the best reviews of items on the web check out lucie's list this is my go to website If I ever want to buy a baby item for my son or for baby showers. My friend Jana will guest blog soon for what you need and do not need as a new mom.[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="253"] The most important thing about shopping when pregnant is that you should not over indulge. Shop carefully.[/caption]
6. Locate a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician in an area around you.
Finding a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician may not always be an easy task. Ask the mother support groups around you on what doctors they recommend. Once you know whose your doctor make a booking around one week post your expected due date in order to at least check your baby's weight. If you want to closely monitor weight gain, you can also take an appointment with a dietitian to help you (as long as medical issues are addressed by your ped). This does not change the need for the routine visits to your pediatrician starting at 7-12 days of age.
For a beautiful read on new parenthood, read What Mothers Need to Know Before They Are MothersYou're prepped, what's next? Let's take it a day at time Note: I only recommend links to content that I find evidence based, interesting, and worthy of you to check out. I do not receive any compensation what so ever for any product, review or referral I make on any material on all my pages/posts. References: Moore ER, Anderson GC, Bergman N, Dowswell T. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD003519. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub3.