6 ways to prepare for breastfeeding – during pregnancy

March 15, 2017
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    When it comes to breastfeeding, half the battle is won if you prep yourself before your little one arrives.

    The more you understand how breastfeeding works, the higher your chance of success, says Dr Mythili Pandi, president of the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group (BMSG).

    So, how can mums prepare for it? We ask the experts for tips on how to start off right.

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  • Arm yourself with textbook knowledge
    2 / 7 Arm yourself with textbook knowledge

    Sure, hands-on practice is important for new mums. But so is textbook knowledge, says senior lactation consultant Yasa Yong Nyuk Yin from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

    As BMSG’s Dr Mythili, a general practitioner in private practice, puts it: it’s like preparing for a driving test.

    “When you have studied the theory, you understand the basics. After the first few weeks of practice, you will be ready to speed off on the expressways,” she quips.

    But not all information resources are created equal, so be discerning about where you get your information from. Yasa advises skipping negative nursing experiences on breastfeeding forums; they only add unnecessary worry.

    Instead, check out these reliable websites to help you in your breastfeeding journey:

    American Association of Pediatrics – Breastfeeding

    Dr. Jack Newman 

    International Lactation Consultant Association

    World Health Organization

    Association for Breastfeeding Advocacy (Singapore)

    You can also learn more about breastfeeding techniques from BMSG’s recommended list of useful videos.

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  • Attend classes and workshops
    3 / 7 Attend classes and workshops

    Take your technical know-how up a notch by attending breastfeeding classes and workshops. Many of these are run by accredited lactation consultants, who will also demonstrate how to massage the breasts and do manual hand expression, says Yasa.

    Even if you can’t afford the time, try to attend at least one class with Hubby, private lactation consultant Betty Lee advises.

    “Information from online resources may not address all your questions on breastfeeding. During a class, you can clear up any lingering doubts with the lactation expert,” she says.

    Ask your maternity hospital about class schedules. Most of them offer antenatal courses, which cover breastfeeding techniques.

    The BMSG also organises interactive breastfeeding classes as well as back-to-work workshops, which are useful if you want to continue breastfeeding after you return to work. Visit www.breastfeeding.org.sg/calendar for details.

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  • No formula milk, please – write this down in your birth plan
    4 / 7 No formula milk, please – write this down in your birth plan

    Studies show that newborns who are nursed within the first hour after birth tend to breastfeed more successfully than those who don’t.

    If you intend to breastfeed Baby exclusively, inform your doctor and the nursing team beforehand, advises Yasa. They will assist you from the beginning of your hospital stay.

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  • Rope in support from Hubby
    5 / 7 Rope in support from Hubby

    Welcome him to the breastfeeding club. While he can’t nurse, his moral support and understanding helps when the going gets tough.

    In fact, a study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal in 2013 found that mums felt more confident and capable about breastfeeding when they perceived their partners as supportive and actively involved.

    On the other hand, mums whose partners seemed ambivalent provided negative feedback about breastfeeding.

    Betty says: “Sometimes, it can be hard to convince certain family members like your own parents or in-laws that breast is best. This is when support from your husband comes in handy.”

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  • Prep your bosom buddies
    6 / 7 Prep your bosom buddies

    During pregnancy, hormones help your body prepare for breastfeeding. For instance, your breasts increase in size and your nipples become darker to help guide Baby towards her food source immediately after birth, explains Yasa.

    But things might get a little tricky if you have flat or inverted nipples which, according to Betty, occur when muscles holding the nipples are tight. Stretching these muscles can help draw out the nipple.

    To do this manually, gently massage some nipple cream around your nipples once or twice a day, Betty suggests.

    Alternatively, there are also devices such as the Philips Avent Niplette or Pigeon Nipple Puller that can help draw out the nipple gently, she says.

    A word of caution: do this only after your first trimester when your pregnancy has stabilised. These techniques are not advisable for mums who are prone to uterine contractions, as it may lead to early labour, warns Betty. When in doubt, seek help from a lactation consultant.

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  • Stock up on breastfeeding accessories
    7 / 7 Stock up on breastfeeding accessories

    Technically speaking, the only “accessory” you really need to breastfeed successfully is Baby. You probably won’t need that many gadgets in the first few weeks if your baby is nursing on demand, says Yasa.

    But the right gear can help make breastfeeding more comfortable. Plus, stocking up early during your pregnancy saves you the stress of having to shop for them while battling sleep deprivation when Baby arrives.

    Ask your maternity hospital’s nurses or lactation consultants what you might need before making a purchase, Yasa advises.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: 5 breastfeeding questions you’re too shy to ask

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