Avoid induction, if you can. It might not be the news you want to hear, but expectant moms should resist the temptation to request an induction just because they’re tired of being pregnant, says Jan Barger, RN, IBCLC, a certified lactation consultant in Wheaton, Ill. “The more mature babies are, the better they seem to breastfeed,” she explains. The induction drug Pitocin can also lead to situations that may compromise breastfeeding—such as increased weight loss for the baby (which could prompt hospital staff to supplement with formula) or more painful contractions for you (which might result in needing pain meds sooner).
Minimize the meds. Natural childbirth isn’t for everyone—and for many women in labor, pain medication (such as an epidural) is a saving grace. However, it can affect a baby’s ability to latch on and suckle at the breast in the hours after childbirth, Barger warns. To reduce the impact on baby, she suggests trying to delay the epidural (or other pain relief) for as long as possible. In the meantime, use breathing and other techniques learned in childbirth class to cope with contractions.