Before the Baby Arrives, Top Five Tips on How to Prepare for Breastfeeding

Sheridan Ross, Licensed Lactation Consultant and Founder of Baby Sips, tells us how to “prepare, deliver and conquer.”

How will I know my baby is getting enough? What if I can’t produce an adequate amount of milk? Is it true I need to “rough” up my nipples to prepare for breastfeeding? If you’re planning to breastfeed, these are just a couple of the questions that have likely raced around your brain. Taking the time to learn the answers now will help you get breastfeeding off to a great start and will allow you to approach it with confidence.

I continually observe families devoting the majority of their pregnancy to learning how to give birth, with several weeks of breathing, effleurage, and squatting on a yoga ball. Breastfeeding education can sometimes be an after thought. The funny thing is breastfeeding lasts much longer than the labor and delivery! Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to get prepared for birth, but I highly encourage you to spend more time on the post delivery. Think about it: you’ll be feeding your newborn(s) every 1.5-3hrs around the clock. Not sure if you heard me: AROUND THE CLOCK. Daily. Nightly. Afternoonly. It doesn’t stop, so taking the time to wrap your head around it before your little one makes their debut is a great idea.

Here are my Top 5 Tips:

1. Find a few local prenatal breastfeeding classes and investigate.

  • What makes them worth your time and/or money?
  • Is it educational, supportive, non-judgmental, and fun?
  • Do they encourage partners to attend?
  • Do they provide a superbill so you can try to apply for reimbursement from your insurance company? *this is new and LC’s are working really hard to help make this happen*

2. Read some books – you should still have time for that, right? You’ll see that I have a favorite…

  • The Nursing Mother’s Companion – Kathleen Huggins
  • The Latch and other Keys to Breastfeeding – Dr. Jack Newman
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – LaLeche League
  • The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers – Dr. Jack Newman
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple – Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC
  • Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Dr. Jack Newman

3. Watch some DVD’s

  • Happiest Baby on the Block – Dr. Harvey Karp
  • Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding – Dr. Jack Newman
  • BabyBabyOhBaby’s Breastfeeding – David Stark (this video makes me cry every time I watch it)

4. Attend a local Breastfeeding Support Group

  • This is wonderful to do while pregnant. The women who attend are always excited to see you and you’re able to get some real-world info on what’s going on in the many stages of baby development and behavior. Bring your partner!

5. Find a local IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in your area and put them on speed dial.

  • Interview a couple of them and see who resonates with you – sort of like choosing a Doula. You want someone who will be supportive and nurturing without adding guilt or pressure to the mix.
  • What is their philosophy and are they interested in hearing yours? Do they listen?
  • Does your Midwife have breastfeeding experience? Your Doula? Does your birthing center or hospital have IBCLC’s available? How much time do they typically spend with patients?

If the road starts to get bumpy, then call for support. If you’re having pain from the start, call for support. If you’re a first time mommy or this is your seventh child, this new baby has never nursed before so be patient while you figure it out together. There’s a bit of a learning curve so have your “village” help with the house, laundry, and cooking, and call your IBCLC. You won’t be sorry.

Sheridan Ross is a skilled and compassionate lactation consultant who provides counseling, education and support to moms at every stage. Sheridan is internationally board certified and received her education from UC San Diego and Health e-Learning’s Breast-Ed Series from Australia. She is a member of ILCA (International Lactation Consultants Association), USLCA (United States Lactation Consultants Association), and BALA (Bay Area Lactation Association).

Sheridan has worked as a lactation consultant at Healthy Horizon’s Breastfeeding Center, at the Family Birth Center in Mills-Peninsula Hospital, and is on staff at Bay Area Fertility & Pregnancy Specialists and Pediatrics. She regularly teaches breastfeeding classes, infant massage classes, and hosts support groups. Sheridan’s commitment to infant health and wellbeing extends to her additional roles as a labor doula, certified massage therapist with a focus on prenatal massage, and as a certified instructor of infant massage. For more information, please go to: www.babysips.com or 650-BABYSIPs (650-222-9747).