Source: Photo by myllissa, Flickr
This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about everything I need to do to prepare my body for the arrival of my third baby. And it dawned on me that maybe other expecting moms might be able to benefit from what I’ve learned, and what’s worked best for me and other moms I know.
For those of you moms who have nursed your babies and are reading this, what am I forgetting? Please feel free to add what you’ve done to prepare for your babies!
1. Start applying lanolin cream to your breasts two months before your baby is scheduled to arrive
This is the #1 tip that I received, and I pass along to all new mothers who are planning to breastfeed their babies. After nursing two babies for a total of 20 months, I have never had a cracked or bleeding nipple and I’m pretty sure lanolin cream had something to do with it.
Two months may seem like a long time, but you might end up delivering early. By applying lanolin cream two months before your due date, you can rest assured that your breasts will be ‘primed and ready’ for your newborn. Twice a day (I suggest morning and evening) apply 100% lanolin cream to your nipple and surrounding areola. Make sure to use nursing pads to shield your bra and clothes from getting stained with lanolin cream. It is extremely sticky/gooey, and the pads will help acclimate your breasts to rubbing against another fabric/fiber.
And make sure to have an extra tube of lanolin cream around as you’ll apply it after every feeding once your baby is born.
2. Invest in a good nursing bra
I can’t tell you how important this is. I have bought countless nursing bras, only to find that many of them were uncomfortable and ended up collecting dust in my dresser. I suggest investing in a good nursing bra several months before your child is due, so that you can begin wearing it as soon as your breasts expand. Stay away from underwire if you can. While pregnant/nursing, my breasts are well endowed in size (wish I could say the same after breastfeeding, lol) and I have never felt that my underwire-less bra didn’t provide sufficient support. I wear this Bravado Designs’ Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. I know it’s expensive, but it will save you a ton of money in the long run by not settling for the many cheap ones that fall apart or dig into your breasts. As you will see, this nursing bra resembles a sports bra, and it’s both very comfortable and supportive.
3. Take inventory of your pumping equipment
Make sure you have all of the parts you’ll need for your pump, including new tubing. If you have borrowed or acquired a pump from a friend, you will want to buy brand new tubing as the old tubing may have come into contact with someone else’s milk. Also, you’ll need BPA-free milk bags, or if you prefer to pump directly into bottles, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper attachments that secures your bottles to your pumping equipment.
4. Forego the chemical-laden “stretch mark” lotions and try 100% organic coconut oil
I admit, I’ve fallen for this one in the past too. Many creams say 100% natural ingredients, but when you read through the long list of chemical-sounding names, you’ll probably realize that those lotions are anything but natural. Since skin is the largest organ on the human body, do you really want those toxins getting absorbed into your blood stream and introduced to your fragile baby ecosystem? If you’re curious, you can look up the safety of your lotion on the EWG’s cosmetics database. They’ll tell you how safe that lotion really is for your body and for your baby.
If you’re worried about stretch marks as your breasts expand, try rubbing coconut oil on them instead of creams made specifically for “reducing breast stretch marks.” You’ll save a bundle and as many other moms will attest, stretch marks are more of a product of genetics and less about how much or what type of cream you use.
5. Get mentally prepared
The first six weeks of nursing are the toughest. Trust me, you will probably question whether or not to continue every day for weeks. It takes a lot of commitment and patience to forego sleep when you are more exhausted than you’ve ever been in your life, so that you can continue nursing your baby (and get your supply going). But take it from someone who’s been there twice – it will get better! It will probably take 4-6 weeks after your baby is born to get into the rhythm of things, but once those first few weeks are over, nursing will become much easier. As your baby grows, you won’t need to continue nursing every two hours (24×7) and you’ll start getting some longer breaks between feedings (and they get longer from there, too). And remember that breastfeeding your baby is one of the best things that you can do to give your baby a healthy start in life. And you’ll save a bundle on formula to boot!
Now, if you try breastfeeding and either don’t or can’t produce milk, or can’t nurse for other reasons, please don’t subject yourself to never-ending guilt. You will need your emotional self in tact so that you can continue caring for and loving all over that baby – guilt free!
6. Find breastfeeding support
Whether it is a friend, family member, La Leche League, or a Mom’s group that can serve as a resource, it’s important to have support lined up. This is especially the case in the early days when breastfeeding is hardest and when new moms might struggle to develop proper techniques and latch. Another excellent resource for breastfeeding is kellymom.com. Also, Jasmine’s article “10 Tips for a Successful Start to Breastfeeding” provides other great tips for a successful start to breastfeeding once your baby arrives.
7. Get plenty of rest
So cliche, but no matter how difficult you’re finding sleeping now while pregnant, you haven’t experienced exhaustion until after your little one(s) arrives. Stress and exhaustion can impact your milk supply, so kick your feet up, relax and get as much shut eye as you can now. As if labor and delivery weren’t tiring enough as it is, caring for a newborn takes exhaustion to an entirely new level.
That being said, every time you look into that baby’s eyes, you’ll know the exhaustion, effort, and perseverance are worth every single second!