How To Mentally Prepare For Breastfeeding Before Your Baby Arrives
If you’re pregnant right now but planning to try breastfeeding, you might be feeling nervous about what lies ahead, especially if you’ve heard how hard it can be for some mums.
While there’s no way to know for sure how breastfeeding is going to work out for you and your baby, starting out with a strong, positive mindset will get you off to an amazing start. Many mums are side-swiped by the realities of breastfeeding and this stress can impact on confidence, enjoyment and even milk supply.
But this won’t be your story. By mentally preparing for feeding your baby and knowing what lies ahead, you’ll bypass the unpleasant surprises, which means you’ll be all the more likely to conquer the challenges and reach your breastfeeding goals.
Here are 6 ways to mentally prepare for breastfeeding:
Know that your newborn will know what to do
Here’s some great news: your newborn baby will know exactly what to do when it comes time for that first attempt at breastfeeding after birth. Babies are born with the rooting reflex, which helps them find your breast, and the sucking reflex, which means he knows what to do with your nipple when he finds it. That’s pretty much half the work done for you!
Be prepared for some discomfort
I’m not going to lie to you: the early days of breastfeeding can be painful. Your nipples will hurt while your baby learns to latch on effectively, and when your milk comes in, your breasts will feel full, heavy and sore. It can take a while for everything to settle down, but it will get better, I PROMISE. However, if your pain is extreme, doesn’t go away and is accompanied by any obvious damage to your nipples, seek help asap.
Expect it to take up time
Think of breastfeeding as your new full-time job, because the hours you spend doing it over the first few months will quickly add up, and around the clock, too. The good news is that as your baby gets bigger, feeds will become more spaced out and your baby will probably spend less time at each feed. In the meantime, prepare for lots of couch-time while you get breastfeeding up and running, but don’t fret – see it as nature’s way of ensuring you get some rest and enjoy a favourite book or TV show while you’re there.
Get your head around ‘Supply and Demand’
Supply and demand is what successful breastfeeding is all about, so be sure it’s the focus at your place. Your body will make milk for your baby based on how often he feeds, so the more often you put baby on your breast, the more milk your body will make to ensure bub is fed adequately. This means you should be led by your baby when it comes to feeding, especially in the early weeks, and let him decide when he’s had enough.
Have a plan for more support
While it’s important to be positive, it’s also worthwhile thinking about your breastfeeding backup plan if you need help. Do you know where to find Lactation Consultants in your area? Can you join any online groups (La Leche League is a great option) that offer breastfeeding support and encouragement? Try connecting with these early on so you know where to go if you need the extra assistance.
Protect yourself from negativity
While you’re mentally preparing for breastfeeding, it can be hard to stay focused and positive if you’re hearing negative opinions and stories about it. Being told that ‘It’s easier to use bottles,’ or other critical comments about your decision to breastfeed can be discouraging and to be honest, pretty disrespectful. When it comes to advice that you really don’t need to hear, learn to say ‘Thanks but no thanks’ and try reaching out to someone more supportive instead.
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