Preparing to Breastfeed
Mothers today are faced with so many sources of information: doctors’ advice, books, magazines, websites, Facebook pages, the experiences of friends and relatives! One of the first steps in preparing to breastfeed is to read about breastfeeding from reliable sources. Two excellent internet sites are www.catholicbreastfeeding.blogspot.com and www.askdrears.com. The former offers an online support community via Yahoo groups and Facebook which can be invaluable if you live in a rural area or just do not know many nursing mothers. The Baby Book, Revised and Updated Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (2013) by Dr. William Sears, Martha Sears, Dr. Robert Sears, and Dr. James Sears is a very good, comprehensive book about breastfeeding, baby care, and attachment parenting. The authors are Catholic and even discuss the benefits of breastfeeding for spacing babies!
Besides reading quality Internet sites and books, locating a good breastfeeding support network before your baby is born is another important step. Even though you can read a lot about breastfeeding, you really cannot learn it solely through reading a book. Speaking to mothers in person about their real life experiences is an excellent way to learn.
There are different options depending on what type of support you are seeking. If someone has started a nursing mothers group in your parish, you can fellowship, pray and discuss breastfeeding, natural family planning, Catholic motherhood, and gentle parenting with other like-minded Catholic women at their functions. If there isn’t currently a group at your church, consider starting one yourself. There are resources on the CNML website that will assist you.
If you are looking for more specific information on breastfeeding management, you can attend breastfeeding support meetings in your community during and after pregnancy. They are usually led by a trained breastfeeding counselor or lactation consultant.
If you find yourself facing complex breastfeeding issues, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) can work one on one with you to troubleshoot the problems and to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals. IBCLCs, as other health care professionals, normally charge for their services. However, most mothers will tell you that the fee is well worth it! Also, don’t forget about finding a breastfeeding friendly health care provider with whom you feel comfortable. Ask friends and family for recommendations and consider interviewing your top choices.
Last but not least, husbands are some of the best supporters of breastfeeding, so keep him involved in all the reading and classes you take.
In terms of practicalities, many nursing moms find nursing bras indispensable. You'll want to pick a bra that is comfortable, not too tight and big enough to allow for an increase in breast size when your milk comes in. Breast size can increase even one whole cup size after the baby is born and your milk comes in! Sometimes underwire bras can contribute to plugged ducts so picking a bra without underwire would be best if possible. Many maternity stores have staff that can assist you in finding the best fitting bra.
Breasts and nipples of all sizes are perfectly suited to breastfeed successfully! However, some types, such as inverted nipples, can make breastfeeding a little more challenging in the beginning. If you think you have inverted nipples, you may consider asking your health care provider to confirm. If you have inverted nipples, you can still nurse your baby! You may just need a little extra help with latch after your baby is born. Some women have found success using a nipple everter during pregnancy or after their baby is born to drawn an inverted nipple out.
There is no need to do anything to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding. The good news is that pregnancy itself prepares a woman’s body perfectly well for breastfeeding. You can be confident that just as your body knows how to grow your baby perfectly according to God’s plan, your breasts know how to grow and prepare to nurture your baby soon after birth!
(Excerpt from the book, Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers)