Did you know, Preparing to Breastfeed is as important as Preparing for Birth? Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner, Claire Dugan, shares her tips to help you prepare for your breastfeeding journey
If you are expecting a baby and are very keen to breastfeed, preparation and knowledge is key. When we become pregnant and as the weeks go by we seek out useful information on labour and birth, we book our hypnobirthing and antenatal course and look towards that date to begin practically preparing for birth. What many of us don’t realise is the correlation between preparing your mind and body positively for birth and preparing your mind and body for feeding. Many of us can be heard saying we would like to ‘try’ to feed and with my knowledge of the mind and how our subconscious actually works, it doesn’t accept words such a ‘try’ I will go into how we can change this a bit later for you.
‘I take feeding one day at a time’
While preparing for birth, we are learning about the hormones needed for us to feel relaxed and calm, just as we are often feeling as we conceive. This hormone is called ‘Oxytocin’ It is our love hormone, our happy hormone which allows us to be in the parasympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system. As important as it is for labour, the same goes for feeding. When you feel upset or stressed your body will be on high alert and this will make you feel tense. Your response will be to hunch your shoulders, to tighten your arms, your neck and clench your jaw. This can then lead to your breathing becoming quicker and a knock on effect of you feeling overwhelmed, this can happen when you are feeding your baby and will most likely end with you both feeling upset and overwhelmed.
‘I feel relaxed and calm as I feed my baby’
So, what can you do to prepare in a positive way to breastfeed your baby before birth?
- Connect with your baby through massaging your bump and talk to your baby.
- Begin to build up a positive expectancy towards feeding.
- Seek out positive blogs, accounts and information that is helpful.
- Work on your breathing, nasal breathing is far better than mouth breathing for calm.
- Learn the physiology of the breasts and hormones and how breastfeeding works.
- Understand what to expect from your new baby.
- Educate your partner as they may be able to emotionally support you and remind you.
- Use pregnancy relaxation MP3’s. Source some feeding specific ones for once baby is here.
- Plan the support in the early weeks and what your early postpartum will look like.
‘I ask for help when I need it’
If you find feeding challenging in those first days, please ask for help. There is a huge amount of support offered whether privately with local practitioners or with the NHS and free feeding drop ins.Speaking out and asking for help is the single most important thing you can do, as this will make the world of difference to your early feeding journey. Having someone kind and caring with the right knowledge sitting with you for a few hours and helping you with the attachment and latch could be the difference between you stopping or continuing, if you want to breastfeed.
Claire Dugan is a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner, Doula and Hypno birthing teacher. Find out more about the wonderful services Claire provides here
The Mindful Breastfeeding School