Preparing to Breastfeed: Tips Before Your Baby Arrives

By Janel Plunkard, IBCLC June 18, 2024

Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy! While breastfeeding is natural, it's also a skill that both you and your baby will learn together. Here are some tips to help you get ready for breastfeeding before your little one arrives:

  1. Learn
    Knowledge is power! Utilize resources like breastfeeding classes, books, and a lactation consultant to learn about breastfeeding basics, latching, positioning, and navigating common challenges. The more you know, the more confident you'll feel when your baby arrives. Getting breastfeeding support during pregnancy can help you meet your feeding goals once your baby arrives. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that parents who learn about breastfeeding before their baby is born are much more likely to continue breastfeeding at six months.
    Find Breastfeeding Classes in Springfield, Missouri HERE.

  2. Schedule a Prenatal Appointment with a Lactation Consultant
    During your pregnancy is an ideal time to choose a Lactation Consultant and schedule an initial appointment. Your IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) will be able to guide and support you as a first time parent, or as an experienced parent who may need support with a new baby, and they can help you prepare for any special feeding situations for babies needing extra support. IBCLCs can help families that are exclusively pumping, families that have complex infant feeding needs, and non-birthing parents seeking support with induced lactation and/or supplemental nursing systems.
    Explore Our Essential Guide to Finding a Lactation Consultant HERE.

  3. Find Your Support System
    Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, community members, and professionals who can offer encouragement and assistance along the way. Consider joining a breastfeeding support group and connecting with other breastfeeding parents in your community or online. Be sure to add them to your contacts so they are just a call or text away when you need support or assistance.
    Find Breastfeeding Support Groups in Springfield, Missouri HERE. 

  4. Set Up a Comfortable Nursing Space
    Breastfeeding can occur anywhere, but it can be helpful to designate a cozy spot in your home where you can comfortably nurse your baby. Make sure you have a comfortable chair or other space to sit comfortably, pillows for support, and a side table to hold essentials like water, snacks, nursing pads, chargers, and other supplies you might need.

  5. Practice Relaxation Techniques
    Breastfeeding can be a relaxing and bonding experience, but it's also normal to feel some stress or anxiety, especially in the beginning while you and baby are learning.
    Practice relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation, or choose soft, calming music or recorded guided mediations to help you and baby unwind during breastfeeding sessions. Music can help release oxytocin, the "love hormone" that promotes positive feelings. Oxytocin also helps to move your breastmilk from the ducts in the breast to the nipple, when your baby begins to suckle. In addition, oxytocin helps in fostering a bond between parent and baby. (Harvard Health, 2023)

  6. Prepare for Pumping (if needed)
    If you plan to pump breastmilk for your baby, familiarize yourself with different types of breast pumps and accessories available. An IBCLC can assist you with selecting a breast pump to best meet your specific needs, and help with accurately sizing your pump flanges, as well. Learn how to use your pump properly by scheduling an appointment with a Lactation Consultant.

  7. Consider Breastfeeding Supplies
    Gather breastfeeding supplies you may want to use, such as nursing pads, nursing bras, and breast milk storage bags, if you're planning to collect breastmilk. Having these items on hand can help make your breastfeeding journey smoother. Your Lactation Consultant can provide guidance for other supplies such as nipple creams, nipple shields, and bottles that are ideal for your specific needs and feeding goals.

  8. Communicate with Your Partner
    Your partner plays an important role in supporting you and your baby's breastfeeding journey. Talk openly with your partner about your breastfeeding goals, concerns, and how they can best support you, whether it's with other infant care tasks, household tasks, emotional support, maintaining pumping supplies, or learning how to assist during breastfeeding sessions. Encourage your partner to attend a breastfeeding class with you!

Breastfeeding is a unique experience for every mother-baby pair, and it's okay to seek assistance if you encounter questions or challenges along the way. Don't hesitate to reach out to your lactation consultant if you have questions or need assistance as you prepare for your baby's arrival - they are ready to support you!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your own lactation consultant or other healthcare provider for personalized guidance and support related to breastfeeding.

This article originally appeared on the My Nourished Family blog, and is shared here with permission.

Disclosure: As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I fully support the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (1981) and subsequent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions. This commitment involves promoting breastfeeding and adhering to ethical guidelines regarding the marketing of infant formula, bottles, and teats. As an independent licensee of Macaroni KID National, I have no role in the selection of national advertisements that appear alongside this article, some of which may potentially violate the WHO Code.