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The Importance of Early Breastfeeding Preparation

The Importance of Early Breastfeeding Preparation

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and provide them with nutrition for growing bodies. However, it can also be challenging, especially for new mothers. Early preparation is key to successful breastfeeding, and here are some tips to help you get started.

Before baby arrives

Educate yourself on breastfeeding

Before your baby arrives, it's important to educate yourself on breastfeeding. Attend a breastfeeding class, read books or articles, and watch videos to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding, the mechanics of breastfeeding, and the common challenges new mothers face. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more confident and prepared.

Get the right supplies

Having the right supplies can make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable. A good quality breast pump is a must-have if you plan to pump milk. A nursing pillow can also be helpful, especially if you have back pain. Nursing bras and breast pads can make breastfeeding more comfortable and discreet.

Research breastfeeding

Start researching breastfeeding online and get familiar with each stage of breastfeeding and what’s involved. The Australian Breastfeeding Association have an amazing website full of useful resources including breastfeeding toolkits by age, a podcast and blog as well as a newborn virtual village for members. Their website can also direct you to online workshops as well as classes near you (

Attend antenatal breastfeeding classes

Antenatal breastfeeding classes, also known as prenatal breastfeeding classes, are classes that are designed to educate expectant mothers and their partners about breastfeeding before the baby is born. These classes are usually taught by lactation consultants (find a lactation consultant near you here (, nurses, or other healthcare professionals who are experienced in breastfeeding and can provide guidance and support to new mothers. They can be taken in person or online, and they may be offered as standalone classes or as part of a comprehensive childbirth education program.

The purpose of antenatal breastfeeding classes is to prepare expectant mothers for breastfeeding, both in terms of the mechanics of breastfeeding and the challenges that may arise. The classes typically cover a range of topics, including the anatomy of the breast and how milk production works, techniques for latching the baby onto the breast and how to recognise hunger cues in the baby and when to feed.

Start practicing good nutrition

Good nutrition is essential for successful breastfeeding. Start by eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You should also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that can interfere with breastfeeding. Plus eating and drinking in this way will help your growing baby as well!

Talk to your partner and support system

Breastfeeding can be challenging, and it's important to have a strong support system in place. Talk to your partner about their role in supporting you, such as helping with household chores or taking care of the baby while you rest. Breastfeeding can be very time consuming and you will need lots of help in the early days at home with your infant, preparing your partner for this is important. Consider joining a breastfeeding support group or reaching out to friends and family who have breastfed before for guidance and encouragement.

Hand expressing

Hand expressing breast milk is the process of using your hands to manually remove milk from your breast. It is a useful skill for breastfeeding mothers to have, as it can be done anywhere and without the need for a breast pump. Talk to your midwife about learning how to hand express in the latter stages of your pregnancy. If medical advice says that it is ok for you to do, you may be able to start hand expressing from when you are 37 weeks pregnant. You can learn how to hand express via video’s online or in consultation with your midwife or a lactation specialist. If you are successful at hand expressing, you can collect the expressed milk in a clean container, such as a bottle or breast milk storage bag or a special syringe, label it with the date and put it in your freezer ready for when your baby arrives.

Hand expressing breast milk can take some practice to get the hang of, but it can be a helpful skill to have when you need to relieve engorgement, increase milk supply, or express milk when you don't have access to a breast pump. It's important to note that hand expressing may not be as efficient as using a breast pump, so it may take longer to express the same amount of milk. If you have any concerns about milk supply or difficulties with breastfeeding, it's always a good idea to consult with a lactation consultant or other healthcare professional for guidance and support.

Here’s a helpful video on hand expressing:

Prepare for potential challenges

Breastfeeding can be challenging, and it's important to be prepared for potential challenges. Some common issues new mothers face include sore nipples and difficulties with latching. Consider having a lactation consultant on speed dial, and learn about potential solutions for common issues.

Once baby arrives

Skin to skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact after birth and in the weeks following can help initiate and improve breastfeeding, as it triggers the release of hormones that stimulate milk production. Also known as kangaroo care, it involves placing the naked baby on the mother's bare chest, covering them with a warm blanket, and allowing them to remain in that position for an extended period.

Start practicing good breastfeeding techniques

It's important to practice good breastfeeding techniques early on to establish a good milk supply and avoid common problems like sore nipples. Make sure your baby is latching on correctly and positioning your baby comfortably. You should also nurse your baby frequently, especially in the first few weeks when your milk supply is being established.

Have patience

Finally, it's important to have patience with yourself and your baby. Breastfeeding can take time and practice, and it's not uncommon to encounter setbacks. Don't be discouraged if you encounter challenges or feel like giving up. With patience, support, and determination, most new Mums can successfully breastfeed their baby.

In conclusion, early preparation is essential for successful breastfeeding. By educating yourself on breastfeeding, getting the right supplies, practicing good nutrition and techniques, preparing for potential challenges, and having patience, you can establish a strong breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Remember to reach out for support and guidance when you need it, and enjoy the special bond that comes with breastfeeding.