1) Don’t worry, your body is preparing
Thanks to Mother Nature, your body does most of the work, so that you can breastfeed your little bundle as soon as they arrive. Your milk ducts will increase, your breasts swell, while your nipples get larger. However, you can also take the following steps to prep yourself mentally, emotionally and physically for a blissful breastfeeding experience…
2) Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class
Not only will you get the lowdown, you’ll wise up to possible obstacles you might encounter when you nurse. Notes GP Dr Mythili Pandi, president of the breastfeeding mothers’ support group, “I often liken antenatal classes to driving classes — you need good basics and a strong foundation before you get onto the expressways.” You’ll also get to meet other mothers and form your own support group. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes as part of their antenatal programme and you can attend a refresher course at your hospital after you deliver. The breastfeeding mothers’ support group also holds regular breastfeeding workshops. Check its website for more details.
3) Read — get books and see online sites
Websites such as Babycenter and Kellymom have great articles on breastfeeding, as well as SmartParents. Well-known American parenting expert Dr William Sears has written several books on the topic, including The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning. The La Leche League International, a non-profit breastfeeding organisation, also offers good nursing advice in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
4) Prepare the necessary tools
Get fitted for comfy nursing bras that provide good support — but wait until the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy as this is when your breasts are closest to their postpartum size. Buy a quality nursing pillow — besides keeping your baby in the best position as he nurses, you’ll avoid straining your shoulders or neck while he nurses. Other things to include in your shopping list include breast pads for leaks, a breast pump if you plan to express, as well as an ointment to ease sore nipples.
5) Massage your breasts
Start massaging your boobs during the last six weeks of your pregnancy to enable breastmilk to flow more freely, by emptying the milk ducts faster, thereby boosting the production of more milk. Start at the top of your breast and use circular motions while moving towards the nipple. Move again to the outside of your breast in a different spot and repeat. Repeat until you’ve covered the entire breast. Later, you can use this same technique to prep your breasts before you start expressing your breastmilk. Please note that it can be very uncomfortable, and may even hurt.
6) Cash in on the “golden hour”
The first 60 minutes after birth is when your newborn is most alert and primed to latch onto to your breast and nurse. Babies tend to get sleepy and lose interest in nursing once it is past. Dr Pandi points out, “During this time, mothers have a surge of oxytocin hormone, which allows the milk ducts to contract and release colostrum — a pale yellowish liquid filled with antibodies and glucose. It’s everything a newborn needs.”
Dr Mythili Pandi, president of the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group, answers your nursing niggles.
If you’re worried about your supply…
Remember the mantra “frequent feeding means more milk production”. The more frequently your breasts are “emptied”, the faster you’ll make more milk. So, nurse regularly or pump between feeds.
If bub only latches on one side…
Vary the way he’s being held, focussing on the side he seems to spurn. Try the side-lying, “football” or “cross-cradle” hold. You can also start nursing on the favoured side, then switch mid-way to the other side. Be persistent and your baby will learn that both sides are the same and will give both breasts equal attention. To ensure that the milk supply on the less-favoured breast doesn’t decrease, you can hand-express or pump while he nurses on the other side.
If you’re heading back to work…
Introduce a bottle to your mini-muncher — but only after four weeks to prevent nipple confusion. To maintain the breastfeeding routine when you’re in the office, express at the same time junior usually has his feed.