Preparing for Breastfeeding

Attention expecting mums! Follow these tips and get ready to nourish your little one with the best nutrition – breastmilk.

Empower Yourself with Knowledge
Read up and attend breastfeeding talks, ideally with your husband. Learn about the advantages of breastmilk – nature’s providence. Your husband’s support and your shared commitment to breastfeeding will help you to overcome any obstacles you may encounter along the way.

Talk to Other Mothers
Talk to mothers who have breastfed their children. They will tell you things that you may not learn from textbooks. The more you learn, the stronger will be your resolve when it is time to breastfeed if you run into obstacles.

Brace Yourself for Emotional Turmoil
The postpartum period can be an emotional roller-coaster. Inexplicably, you may find yourself weepy for no reason, and thinking dark thoughts. This emotional turmoil is most likely due to the hormonal upheaval that takes place when progesterone and oestrogen levels suddenly drop in the first 72 hours. This sudden crash often leads mummies to experience what is commonly called the ‘baby blues’.

Seek Help if You Need It
In its severest form, the baby blues are called ‘postpartum depression’ or ‘postnatal depression’. Symptoms include sudden bouts of weepiness, fatigue, insomnia, lack of appetite, anxiety and irritability. If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, seek professional help.

Watch Your Diet
You can and should start preparing for breastfeeding even during your pregnancy. First and foremost is of course your diet. During pregnancy, eat sensibly and take protein-rich foods like fish. If you are a vegetarian, eat protein-rich beans like soybeans, lentils, black beans and soy products like tofu.

Check the Suitability of Long-term Medication
If you are doubtful whether you can breastfeed because you are on long-term medication, check with your obstetrician. If the medication is not beneficial for nursing infants, your obstetrician may be able to prescribe an alternative. Whatever it is, enquire early so that you can start on other medication if need be. Time is needed for observation of the new medicine’s effect on you.

Massage Your Breasts
In your last trimester, whenever you take a shower, give your breasts a light massage. Do not massage the areola and nipples, as stimulating the nerve endings in this area have been known to trigger premature contractions. Simply massage breasts using a circular motion from the outer part to the centre. This also helps in preventing engorgement after birth.

Examine Your Nipples
If you suspect that you may have short, flat or inverted nipples, there are wonderful and simple devices that you can use to correct them. But it is good to start early during your pregnancy, around the second trimester (16 to 20 weeks).

Communicate Openly
Talk with your husband and key family members about your decision to breastfeed. Their support can be pivotal to your success.

Visit a Lactation Consultant
Most women mistakenly assume that they only see a Lactation Consultant after they start breastfeeding. Before delivery, a Lactation Consultant can answer your questions, recommend relevant literature, and examine your breasts professionally in the privacy of her clinic. A session can be very reassuring, and strengthen your determination to succeed at breastfeeding.

Choose a Supportive Obstetrician
This next step is very important. It should really be called the first step, as your successful breastfeeding journey starts with choosing a pro-breastfeeding obstetrician right from your first trimester. That is not to say that any obstetrician would be anti breastfeeding in these enlightened days, but there are definitely some who are more supportive and empathetic than others.

FINALLY… Go Shopping!
Buy yourself comfortable nursing bras with good support and no under-wiring. Buy one to two cup-sizes larger as your breasts will enlarge during pregnancy and when you breastfeed. While you are at it, buy yourself some fashionable maternity clothes. Now, feel confident in the knowledge that you are fully prepared for breastfeeding, and look forward to the numerous benefits that breastfeeding brings.

Benefits of Breastfeeding
For Babies

  • Digests more easily than formula
  • Meets baby’s needs fully for energy and growth due to high concentrations of carbohydrates and proteins
  • Lowers risks of obesity, asthma and allergies
  • Produces less smelly stools
  • Promotes gut health and cognitive development
  • Strengthens the immune system, since mothers’ antibodies are passed on through breastmilk

For Mothers

  • Cultivates a special bonding experience, since babies detect odorants unique to their mothers’ breasts
  • Aids faster return to pre-pregnancy weight as
    breastfeeding burns calories
  • Lowers risk of osteoporosis after menopause
  • Lowers risks of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer
  • Expedites contraction of womb
  • Serves as natural family planning (but best coupled
    with contraception)
  • Saves money

For the Community

  • Increases long-term health and lessens burden on national healthcare
  • Promotes productivity since healthier children mean less sick leave and childcare for parents

For the Environment

  • Promotes less waste as fewer cans and bottles are used

The above benefits are just a few of the many advantages that breastfeeding brings, for mother, baby, the community and the environment.

If you have any issues with breastfeeding or would like to learn more about breastfeeding, please contact Alvernia Parentcraft Centre at 6347 6641 or email us at [email protected].


This article is taken from our My Alvernia Magazine Issue #39. Click here to read the issue on our website or on Magzter.