Is it teething time for your little one?
 
During pregnancy you may be keeping up to date on the week to week development of your growing baby. During this time your body is also developing and preparing to nourish and comfort your baby through breastfeeding. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, your pregnancy body is naturally preparing to breastfeed your baby.
 
Pregnancy is a time when your breasts begin to enlarge. The milk ducts and milk producing cells are developing and there is an increase in the blood supply to the breasts, all in preparation for breastfeeding. Although your body naturally prepares to breastfeed your baby, breastfeeding itself is a learned art and requires time to develop, it is not always instinctive.
 
How to prepare for breastfeeding your baby?
  • Knowledge is so important, borrowing or purchasing a highly rated peer reviewed breastfeeding book.
  • Attending an antenatal breastfeeding class, these can be taken in the hospital you are attending. You can also attend an independent breastfeeding class with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Independent breastfeeding classes given by IBCLC, are very detailed and the information provided will be given by professionals who are the ‘gold standard in lactation/ breastfeeding care’.
  • Attend a breastfeeding support group in your area. Breastfeeding support groups are run by the Health Service Executive, voluntary organizations and Lactation Consultants in private practice. Breastfeeding support groups are a great opportunity to talk to other mothers and to discuss any breastfeeding questions you may have.
  • After your baby is born continue to attend a breastfeeding support group.  
  • Attend an independent child birth class. These classes will provide you with information to promote a positive birth for you and your partner. These classes will also discussion the important of limiting medical interventions and promoting a natural birth. The less interventions during your delivery the better for your breastfeeding journey. A birth doula can help and advocate for you during your labour, childbirth and breastfeeding. 
  • Prepare your mind, by believing in yourself. Begin to visualize yourself breastfeeding your baby. Prepare your mind with positive thoughts of breastfeeding your baby. Listen to positive breastfeeding stories, focus your mind in a positive way towards breastfeeding.
  • Avoid breastfeeding information supplied by formula companies.
  • Write a birth plan, including your request to breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after delivery. Request skin to skin contact with your baby, rooming in, breastfeeding on demand, avoiding unnecessary separation (only separating if medically indicated) and breastfeed your baby within the first hour after delivery. Discuss your birth plan with your birth partner and ensure your partner is aware of your wishes. 
 
  • If you are booked in for a planned caesarean section or there is a medical complication, which would cause a separation from your baby after delivery. Discuss with your midwife or health professional the possibility of hand expressing breast milk for your baby prior to delivery. 
  • Purchase a breastfeeding nightgown, soft breastfeeding bra and breast pads. If you are having a hospital birth, pack these into your hospital bag.
  • After 37 weeks pregnant, you can begin to massage your breasts and learn how to hand express breast milk. These are both very important skills that will really help you throughout your breastfeeding journey.
  • Learn as much as you can during pregnancy about the latching on technique, positions and effective suck. If you have never seen a baby being breastfed, attending a support group will really help you to understand the important of these.
  • Stay well hydrated and nourished throughout your pregnancy.
  • Organize as much help as possible during your first few hours, days and weeks after delivery.
  • Contact a Lactation Consultant in your area during your pregnancy. You can let them know your estimated date of delivery and organize an appointment with then when baby arrives, if you require additional professional breastfeeding support.
Remember to surround yourself with positive, supportive people and ask for support and help breastfeeding when you need it.
 
National Breastfeeding Week takes place from Saturday, 1st to Friday, 7th October 2016, and this year's campaign message from the HSE is ‘Every Breastfeed makes a Difference’For advice and support, visitBreastfeeding.ie
Pregnancy, Baby & Lactation Specialist 

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