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Getting Those Boobies Ready for Babies

As much as I wish the pre natal classes at the hospital prepared you for breastfeeding, unfortunately watching how the latch works on a crochet booby months out from delivery does not seem to cut it. It is certainly a great insight into what things should look like, but in reality breastfeeding is one of the toughest things a mama will learn to do and it is rather overwhelming sitting in a room full of expectant parents to take it all in and become a breastfeeding goddess!

Having had difficulties with my first born: 3 episodes of mastitis, the first of which was 4 days post partum and coupled with cracked nipples, meant I had to double pump and the mister had to finger feed our mini for 2 weeks, I really wish I had had more information and support on hand.

It is a common scenario amongst many first time mamas and often the reason many fail to continue breastfeeding after 6 weeks, which is why I am so passionate about supporting mamas through those initial daunting weeks and throughout their motherhood journey.

My Top Tips for Preparing First Time Mamas for Breastfeeding

1. Speak to a lactation consultant before your due date. These health professionals are amazing and will provide you with information and advice on what to expect and address any questions or anxieties you may be experiencing. You will most likely have access to a LC at your place of delivery, however you are most receptive to information when you are comfortable with the person and also receiving consistent information. One thing many women have discussed with me about their breastfeeding experience in those initial stages is not having the same technique of holding and latching explained from each health professional in hospital, and when you are exhausted makes the experience much much harder and technical! Book another appointment a week or 2 after your due date once you have settled in at home, and feeling more comfortable with your new role as a mama. To find a LC near you click here.

2. Have a nipple shield on hand. Lifesaver. Although I became so reliant on it that at 3 months post delivery, I visited a private LC to wean myself off them!

3. Have a breast pump on the ready. My mini was so sleepy in those first few weeks/months and my milk supply was huge (for which I am very grateful) that mastitis was caused by her not draining my boob. I was in pain, tired and having to shop for a breast pump which was not ideal! (The first one was on loan from the birthing centre at which I delivered my mini).

4. Have your LC visit you again, especially if you have any concerns about your milk supply. Many mamas worry that their milk supply is low if the baby is fussing or if they have pumped and only a small amount has been expressed. This is not generally the result of low milk supply so it is important that you speak to an LC again to assess the situation. Even as a second time mama, I used the services of a LC to help with positioning and latch to ensure I was not hit with mastitis. I cannot stress enough how important these health professionals are in a mamas breastfeeding journey.

5. Speak to other mamas about their experiences. You may not love everything they did or advise, but if you can learn one thing or feel supported it will make the journey a whole lot easier. I was fortunate to have a very close friend have her baby 4 weeks before me, so she had fresh information to pass on!

6. Let as many people help you where possible with food, washing, cleaning and cooking meals. Have snacks on hand because in those first few weeks, time flies while you are learning your role as a new mama and before you know it, you will be ready for bed and have forgotten to eat or drink! Breastfeeding mamas need to fuel their bodies adequately so they have enough energy to support their own health and well being and their minis!

7. Download a breastfeeding app to help you keep track of which side you have breastfed from. It may sound like a silly tip, but it is so important to know what breast you fed from last and when you are tired and busy with the mini, it is so easy to forget! I used the Baby Feed Timer app from iTunes, but click here to read a recommended list from kidspot.

8. Seek support if you feel anxious or uncertain about anything during your breastfeeding journey. For example if your baby is fussing at the breast, displaying signs of colic or you have worries about your milk supply, then reach out to health professionals or support networks that can help you navigate through these areas. A great place to start in Australia is the Australian Breastfeeding Association which has a breastfeeding hotline which you can find information on here.

9. Try to relax as much as possible to get through those first 6-8 weeks of breastfeeding. Sit on the couch for hours on end (yes I'm guilty), take your time with daily activities and if you don't want to leave the house for weeks on end (again I am guilty) and if you have the luxury to be able to do these things, then do it, as once you "get it" it will be the easiest thing you do for your mini and for yourself....and in months to come, you will forget how trying that part of your motherhood journey was!

Breastfeeding has so many benefits for both mama and mini, and the journey can take weeks of trying to nail it! The aim of this information is to educate mamas on how to get through it and be prepared, so like many other mamas before them they do not feel they are incapable of breastfeeding their minis, and most importantly they can find enjoyment during this special time!

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