Written by Joelleen Winduss Paye
1. Talk to other mums about their breastfeeding experience - listen to the challenges and the joys.
This is the first and most basic step a mum-to-be can take to prepare herself for her breastfeeding journey. In our modern families, we no longer grow up around multiple mothers who are breastfeeding, therefore our inherent knowledge of how to breastfeed is a thing of the past. Be bold and ask mothers you know (family, colleagues, friends) how breastfeeding worked out for them. Listen to the good and the bad. This will help you create realistic expectations and get you gently thinking about how you may face any potential challenges ahead of time.
2. Research and touch base with a trusted IBCLC
You have chosen your birthing team, now it's time to think about your postnatal team. Some mothers make contact with me when they are on the brink of giving up breastfeeding, and when they see how I can help they often say they wish they had been in touch sooner. There is so much you can do ahead of time, even if it's just finding an IBCLC you know, like and trust their knowledge and approach, and seeing if they have availability around the time your baby is in their first 6 weeks.
3. Read The Discontented Little Baby Book by Dr Pam Douglas
Dr Pamela Douglas has led the way in evidenced-based breastfeeding and newborn care. This book is easy to understand and opens your eyes to the wisdom of breastfeeding instincts. Dr Pamela’s research also blows open the myth of overstimulation, and she shows us how babies crave to play and sensory nourishment for healthy brain development. Dr Pamela is supportive of breastfeeding, keeps the mother’s mental health at the forefront and doesn't formula shame.
4. Learn to hand express your colostrum from 37 weeks (approval is needed from your care provider)
If your pregnancy is low risk and your care provider is happy for you to commence hand expressing at 37 weeks this is a great way to practically prepare for breastfeeding. Hand expressing is the process where you manually extract any colostrum from the breast and store this until your baby arrives. Not all mothers will get colostrum to store, but that isn't the only benefit. Hand expressing allows you time to familiarise yourself with your breasts in a new way, and learning it before your baby arrives is much easier than learning it when you are beyond tired and have a hungry baby demanding their milk be delivered yesterday.
5. Join my Preparing For Breastfeeding Workshop or check out my Prepare to Breastfeed PDF Guide
Have you listened to the latest Science of Motherhood Podcast Episode 40? Dr Renee and I connect over how to truly prepare for your breastfeeding journey. There is so much value in this episode, and it is what inspired me to create my new one-hour live workshop. The first Preparing for Breastfeeding Workshop launches this October 12th, with Q&A time, and the registration fee includes my unreleased Prepare to Breastfeeding PDF guide. This workshop is a round-up of all the knowledge that a modern mum needs to know ahead of time.
More about Joelleen Winduss Paye
IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Endorsed Midwife & Naturopath