"TOTALLY CLUELESS" - How to prepare?
I am currently 8 weeks pregnant with my second child. I did not
breastfeed my first, who is 9. I want to breastfeed this one but
I am totally clueless. Do I need to do anything to prepare my
breasts? Should I use a breast pump or hand express the milk?
Which is better the electric pump or the manual pump? I know I
have a long way to go yet but I am a planner and I like to make
informed decisions. Any help you could offer me would be greatly
Congratulations on your decision to breastfeed your new baby!
You'll be so glad that you did. Breastfeeding is the most natural
process in the world, but it isn't instinctive. You have to learn
the mechanics of positioning, and educate yourself about the differences
between breastfeeding and formula feeding so that you know what
to expect. It's difficult not to make comparisons when you have
already had a baby, but comparing breast and bottle fed babies
is like comparing apples and oranges.
There is no
one best way to prepare for breastfeeding. You can't toughen up
your nipples in advance, and you can't predict what breastfeeding
problems (if any) that you will encounter. You need to educate
yourself as much as you possibly can in advance. Take classes
if they are available, read books (I recommend Dr. Sears new book
called The Breastfeeding Book and La Leche League's The Womanly
Art of Breastfeeding), talk to other nursing mothers, attend La
Leche League meetings if there is a group in your area, and find
a "breastfeeding friendly" doctor.
what kind of support is available after your baby is born is just
as important as educating yourself in advance about the basics
of breastfeeding. Because there is no way to predict exactly how
things will go once the baby arrives, it is helpful to know who
to turn to for help when you have questions (and you will have
questions, no matter how much advance preparation you do). Find
out if the hospital where you are going to deliver has lactation
consultants on staff, and request a consultation as soon as possible
after the baby's birth. Some hospitals have enough LCs on staff
to visit every nursing mother, while others only provide LC services
if the doctor places an order for them. Most major hospitals have
IBCLCs on staff, and some are in private practice in the community.
Some hospitals have lactation centers that offer outpatient services
after you leave the hospital, and most LCs in private practice
also work with mothers individually after hospital discharge.
Check around to find out what services are available and prices
in your area.
Even if you
have excellent help while you are in the hospital, you will find
that most of your questions will be about things that happen after
you go home. If you have an uncomplicated vaginal birth, then
you will probably be at home by the time your baby is 48 hours
old. Common problems like engorgement, nipple soreness, and jaundice
usually don't occur until after the baby is 2-3 days old, so having
someone to turn to for advice after you leave the hospital is
As far as
choosing a breast pump goes, it really depends on your individual
situation. If you have medical complications such as prematurity
or low weight gain, then you might need to rent a hospital grade
pump like Medela's Classic for a short time. If you are staying
at home with your baby and you take him with you everywhere you
go, then you might not need a pump at all. If you want to pump
occasional bottles for outings, then you might want to purchase
a manual pump or a small electric/battery pump like the MiniElectric.
If you are going to be working and pumping several times a day
on a regular basis, then you will probably want to rent or buy
a hospital or professional grade pump like the Lactina or the
Pump In Style. You can find information about the pros and cons
of different types of pumps on my
website and in the article "Collecting
and Storing Breastmilk."
La Leche League meetings during your pregnancy. You'll get to
meet lots of happy nursing couples, as well as have access to
tons of excellent information about pregnancy, parenting, and
breastfeeding. La Leche League is a great source of support for
all expectant and nursing mothers.
You can find
an IBCLC in your area by contacting ILCA (International Lactation
Consultant Association) at 312-541-1710 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find
out how to locate your nearest La Leche League group by calling
1-800-LALECHE or going to their website: laleche.org.
nearly all mothers can breastfeed successfully if they are strongly
committed and know where to get the information and support that
they need. The first couple of weeks are challenging, but ask
any mother who has hung in there and she will tell you that nursing
your baby is worth doing whatever it takes to make it work for
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