Preparing for the arrival of your child is an exciting, and stressful, time. There are so many things to do. You have to get the nursery ready. You have to be sure you have all of the supplies you might need during those first few weeks and months. If you’ve decided to breastfeed, you may feel as if you have to prepare for that as well. However, preparing to breastfeed your infant is not as difficult as you might think.
The first simple preparation is to learn how to handle your breasts. Before childbirth, many women are uncomfortable with their bodies. They are even less comfortable with handling their breasts. This lack of comfort is one of the major reasons women choose not to breastfeed their babies. At one time in history, women were instructed to toughen their nipples with a towel or other harsh material. However, scientific studies have recently shown that doing exercises like this can remove the protective coatings your body naturally makes for your breasts. Throughout your pregnancy, your body is preparing for your baby to breastfeed. As a result, this type of harsh preparation is simply not necessary. A better idea might be to gently massage your breasts so you can become comfortable handling them.
Another good preparation tip is check for flat or inverted nipples. Flat or inverted nipples can make it more difficult for the baby to latch on. This can make the first weeks of nursing much more difficult for both you and your baby. No matter what kind of nipple you have, you can breastfeed. If your nipples are flat or inverted, though, you may need to make a few adjustments. You may notice that you have flat nipples if they do not become erect when they are cold or stimulated. Inverted nipples retract into the breast rather than protruding outward. The hormonal changes during pregnancy may naturally change the shape of your nipple, but if you notice that your baby is still having trouble latching on during the first few weeks of nursing, you might try a breast shell. A breast shell is a two piece plastic device. The inside piece has a hole that fits around the nipple. The outside piece is rounded. You wear the entire device inside your bra. It works by creating pressure on the breast and causing the nipple to protrude. You might also try a breast pump just before you get ready to feed your baby. This can draw your nipple out and help your baby to latch on a bit more easily.
One final preparation you should make just before you breastfeed and during the first few weeks of breastfeeding is to avoid the use of soap or lotions on breastfeeding. Soap can cause dry skin on and around you nipples. This can make you more prone to cracked or bleeding nipples. Lotions are also not necessary, as the breast milk that leaks onto your nipples will provide them all the skin nourishing nutrients they need. One serious problem with both soap and lotion is that they change your scent. This can make your newborn less willing to latch on during those first crucial feeding sessions.