Preparing to Breastfeed

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Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean everything about it always comes naturally. To help you and your new baby get off to a smooth start at mealtime, here’s some helpful advice on preparing to breastfeed.

You’re entitled to breastfeeding education.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding insurance coverage without cost-sharing is now mandatory for breast pumps (more on that below) as well as comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained professional. Find breastfeeding education classes at your local hospital, or attend breastfeeding meetings held by your local La Leche League group. Another great resource: Medela’s Breastfeeding University, an online program consisting of 10 short, self-paced classes.

You need gear to make breastfeeding comfortable.

You’ll be spending a lot of time feeding your baby, so you’ll want to be cozy and relaxed while you do it. When preparing to breastfeed, be sure to add these essentials to your new baby checklist:

  • Nursing bras Experts recommend having at least two.  Stock up on washable or disposable bra pads, too.
  • A breastfeeding pillow
  • A rocking chair or glider Test it before baby arrives to make sure it’s comfy!
  • A nursing footstool
  • Lanolin for sore or cracked nipples
  • Plenty of support Keep your favorite breastfeeding book in an easy-to-find place for quick reference (we’re fans of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International). Stick your lactation consultant’s number in your contact list for easy access for when bigger questions pop up.

It’s a good idea to get ready for pumping now.

By the time she’s three weeks old, you should begin getting your baby used to drinking breast milk from a bottle, so others can feed her when you’re not around. “One of the tricks to making the transition is to introduce the bottle early on,” says Katherine O’Connor, M.D., an infant expert and attending physician at The Children’s Hospital of Montefiore in New York. As you’re preparing to breastfeed, here’s what you’ll need to pump, store, and feed your baby breast milk:

  • A quality breast pump Picking a model that suits your lifestyle and needs will go a long way towards making pumping easier.
  • Collection and storage materials Store breastmilk in BPA-free bags or containers. If you’re pumping while at work, you’ll also need a portable cooler to ensure breast milk storage safety.
  • Other extras Breast shields and breast pump accessory items, like a vehicle lighter adapter, if you plan to pump in the car.
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