Breastfeeding is the single most important thing you will do for your baby in the first six months after birth. Make sure you prepare for it adequately so that you succeed at it.
Here are 10 things you must do to prepare for successful breastfeeding:
- Take care of your breasts –
Breasts are central to breastfeeding. Right from the second trimester of pregnancy spend time moisturising your breasts and shaping your nipples during the massage to ensure a good latch.
- Get comfortable with your breasts –
Most women are uncomfortable exposing their breasts. Spend time during pregnancy – looking at your breasts in the mirror – so that you get used to them being uncovered.
- Understand how breast milk is produced –
Attend a prenatal class to understand how breast milk is produced so that you never hamper its production.
- Know how often you will need to feed –
Babies need to feed every 2 to 3 hours. And they typically feed for up to 45 minutes at first. This means that you may be feeding almost all day. Don’t get flustered or feel inadequate and give up.
- Room in with your baby –
Having your baby around you and especially having your baby skin to skin is one of the most important indications for your body to produce breast milk. Stay in the same room as your baby after birth and stay skin to skin with your baby as much as possible.
- If you are separated from your baby start pumping –
It is best to direct nurse your baby for the first 3-4 months. However, if for some reason you are separated from your baby for medical reasons. Or if your baby is unable to latch because of medical reasons – start pumping to maintain breast milk supply.
- Hand express a few times before you start pumping –
Breast pumps are efficient tools for expressing breast milk. However, they have a strong suction which becomes easier to manage if you have trained your breasts to express milk without your baby sucking.
- Feed frequently in the first few days –
In the first few days after birth – you will produce colostrum not milk. Keep feeding your baby this liquid gold. This will build milk supply and prevent engorgement.
- Do not skip night feeds –
Prolactin is secreted in larger quantities in night milk and this helps build your milk supply.
- Prepare to rest –
By the time, your baby is 4 to 6 weeks old you will start feeling tired. Fortunately, by this time your baby would have built up your milk supply by suckling – and you will have enough milk to pump between feeds. Pump this milk and hand over some of the feeds to someone else and get some much-deserved rest so that you can retain your energy to breastfeed for longer.
Breastfeeding is a long journey. Arm yourself with the knowledge, skills and equipment that will make this journey easier.
Have any questions for our expert, Dr. Debmita Dutta? Please share your questions in the comments! Our expert will definitely clear all your doubts.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops at schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents and infant care classes for new parents.