The best advice we can give women who want to breastfeed is to prepare before your baby arrives. Being prepared improves your chances of a successful breastfeeding start.
Below are some tips on how you can prepare, both mentally and physically.
Your breasts That your breasts grow, your areola grows and/or darkens, and that your breasts become sensitive and swollen indicates that your breasts are preparing for breastfeeding.
Some women leak yellowish colostrum from their breasts. For some, this happens as early as week 16, for others at the end of the pregnancy, and for yet others not until after the baby is born. It makes no difference in terms of breastfeeding if or when this happens.
Try to hand express during your pregnancy, starting from pregnancy week 38, for practice purposes and to familiarize yourself with how it feels. If you can extract a few drops of breast milk, freeze them and bring them with you to the birth center/hospital when it’s time.
It is particularly important to take good care of your breasts while nursing. Don’t wear bras that are too tight or put pressure on your breasts. Keep your breasts warm if that feels comfortable.
Sleep To start, your infant will feed a little and often, with as many as 10 to 12 feedings—or more—over a 24-hour period. Your newborn also needs to feed at night (all babies are different) so you will most likely get little sleep the first couple of weeks. Take every opportunity to rest during the day and sleep when your baby sleeps.
Household chores and other matters can wait or be done by a partner if you have one. Give priority to rest and sleep. It pays off both in terms of breastfeeding and the wellbeing of you, your baby and your family.
Breastfeeding fear If you feel scared and worried about breastfeeding, either because you’ve had a tough experience before, or because you think it seems off-putting to nurse, speak with your midwife at the clinic. If she doesn’t have the time or knowledge to help, all breastfeeding clinics in Sweden welcome women for consultations to prepare during pregnancy. The goal is not always to breastfeed exclusively. You can also breastfeed some of the time, or create a plan so that you get off to a good start and the newborn period is a positive experience for you and your newborn infant. It’s up to you to set your goal for yourself.
If you’ve nursed before Regardless of what previous breastfeeding experiences were like, it is extremely important to remember that each one is unique. The baby you are expecting now is different from your first or earlier children, with a different personality and different circumstances. There’s no reason to compare nursing experiences. If you’re experience was good and breastfeeding worked smoothly, then you have a sound base to feel confident that this one will be fine too. If your previous experience was less than favorable, speak with your midwife during your pregnancy or schedule an appointment at a breastfeeding clinic to prepare mentally. Regardless, this breastfeeding experience will be different and there is no reason why things should not work out.
Good to have at home - You will notice that breastfeeding makes you thirsty. It’s a good idea to have beverages at home that you like, such as juice, smoothies, soups, and more. You will need high-calorie beverages (breastfeeding requires a lot of calories). Drinking only water will not be enough. - You do not need to buy nursing pillows and special chairs. A regular firm pillow usually offers enough support to rest your arm on. Start with the armchair, couch or bed that you have and try out different positions that suit you and your baby. If you then feel like you need to buy something, do so. - Some women want to have a nursing pad in their bra, like a paper or wool pad, that gathers milk that leaks before and after nursing.
After the birth It helps to know how a newborn infant reacts, your newborn’s instincts and needs, how baby will respond and the best way to start breastfeeding.