How can I prepare for breastfeeding before I give birth?

To prepare for breastfeeding, the most important thing you can do is have confidence in yourself and to plan ahead. Committing to breastfeeding starts with the belief that you can do it!

Other steps you can take to prepare for breastfeeding are:

  • Get good prenatal care, which can help you avoid early delivery. Babies born too early have more problems with breastfeeding.
  • Tell your doctor about your plans to breastfeed, and ask if the place where you plan to deliver your baby has the staff and setup to support successful breastfeeding. Some hospitals and birth centers have taken special steps to create the best possible environment for successful breastfeeding. These places are called Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers.
  • Take a breastfeeding class. Pregnant women who learn about how to breastfeed are more likely to be successful at breastfeeding than those who do not. Breastfeeding classes offer pregnant women and their partners the chance to prepare and ask questions before the baby's arrival.
  • Ask your doctor to recommend a lactation consultant. You can establish a relationship with a lactation consultant before the baby comes so that you will have support ready after the baby is born.
  • Talk to your doctor about your health. Discuss any breast surgery or injury you may have had. If you have depression, or are taking supplements or medicines, talk with your doctor about treatments that can work with breastfeeding.
  • Tell your doctor that you would like to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery. The sucking instinct is very strong within the baby's first hour of life.
  • Talk to friends who have breastfed, or consider joining a breastfeeding support group.
  • Talk to fathers, partners, and other family members about how they can help you successfully breastfeed. Partners and family members can:
    • Support your breastfeeding by being kind and encouraging
    • Show their love and appreciation for all of the work that goes into breastfeeding
    • Be good listeners if you need to talk about any breastfeeding concerns you might have
    • Help make sure you have enough to drink and get enough rest
    • Help around the house
    • Take care of any other children who are at home
    • Give the baby love through playing and cuddling
    • Get the items you will need for breastfeeding, such as nursing bras, covers, and nursing pillows.

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