Preparing for breastfeeding. WAS:BF MYTH: Breastfeeding comes naturally, doesn’t it? – Or does it?

[deleted account] ( 54 moms have responded )

This is long, but important!

So breastfeeding is natural. That means it just happens, right? Not necessarily. Since humankind began, new mothers watched and learned from their own mothers, sisters, and aunts, so breastfeeding was an assumed part of the process – it’s part of the reproductive cycle. As society changed, and increasingly did not support breastfeeding, the business of babies became largely hidden so that today's expectant parents are quite likely never to have even held a baby, let alone seen one being breastfed. As well as this, we have come to depend so much on technology that the art of breastfeeding has become difficult. We are so used to measuring, weighing, timing and planning that we have lost touch with our own bodies.

As the Australian Breastfeeding Association puts it “Learning about breastfeeding BEFORE baby is born (when you have more time to take in the information and seek answers to your questions) can really make all the difference. For some mums, it can be quite overwhelming to start learning the basics of breastfeeding during the period when both mother and baby are recovering from the birth.


1.Get the facts. Find out all you can about how breastfeeding works, techniques, what problems may arise and how to deal with them. Find out about how a newborn baby acts.

• Surround yourself with breastfeeding mums: join a breastfeeding support group, such as La Leche League ( or the Australian Breastfeeding Association ( LLL is actually an international organisation – some mums may have had experience with it in other countries. Check to find a breastfeeding support group in your own country/area. Also, these CoM forums are part of surrounding yourself with supportive mums!

• Do a breastfeeding class – both of the above organisations run them, your local hospital probably does. A couples class is fantastic, if possible.

• Research, research, research (particularly if you can’t get to a class) There are some terrific websites around:




o simplified but comprehensive

2. Get your man involved – perhaps he can help you with your research? Or ask him how he’d like to help.

3. Get used to handling your breasts. Your nipples don’t need to be tough ( I’ve heard horrible stories about mothers being told to use alcohol on their nipples!!!) Your nipples need to be flexible.

4. Check out your hospital (if you’re planning on giving birth in a hospital), check out local health professionals, check out lactation consultants – board certified of course.

5. Make sure you tell the hospital staff when you book in that you will be breastfeeding – you want no formula, no bottles, no dummies (pacifiers), you want to feed your baby immediately after birth, or at least as soon as possible. Write it down for them, tell your doctor, tell everybody, put a sign over your bed, whatever it takes! Room in if possible.

6.Bras – probably a separate topic on its own! Basically, during the pregnancy (and maybe in the very early days, just have a comfortable, supportive bra to accommodate your changing breasts. After your baby is born, do try and get fitted by a properly trained corsetiere. I know it’s not always possible, but maybe on your first trip to town after your baby’s born? There are sites where you can learn how to size yourself correctly. A correctly fitting bra is so important for your body. Please, no underwires!


• Breastfeeding is part of the reproductive cycle, not an add-on. The vast majority of women can lactate , that is, produce milk to feed their babies. The human race would not have survived for millions of years if this was not the case. “Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.” (World Health Organisation,

• The sooner you start to feed your baby, the more smoothly breastfeeding will go. I know it’s not always possible, particularly if labour was difficult, or you needed a C-section, but immediately after birth is best, if at all possible. .The sucking reflex is strongest in the first half hour after birth.

• Lactation is a supply and demand system - the more often you feed your baby, the more milk is produced

• Your body is a milk production factory, not a storage unit. (No, this is not original – I stole it from one of the mums who posted here, and I can’t remember her name to thank her! Hope she doesn’t mind my stealing this!)

• You don’t need a special diet to breastfeed - Milk supply is independent of mum’s diet (if anyone misses out because the mother’s diet is inadequate, it won’t be the baby!)


Correct latching is vital. Baby needs to get the milk in your breasts so that your body will make more milk. You need a correct latch so your nipples don’t get sore. Getting the positioning and latching correct from the start can help prevent your nipples getting too sore, and can ensure your baby gets all the milk he needs.

This is a great video. Watch it often! There are many videos round for latching – it’s worth having a look at several. There are lots on YouTube, and Dr Jack Newman has done some marvellous research on latching and correct positioning:

This is a great site for information on the first hours of your baby’s life

When does milk come in?

Your milk should "come in" 2-5 days after your baby is born. It may not “come in” till after you’re home from hospital. Don’t worry – nature has that covered! Colostrum is perfect for baby until her digestive system can cope with milk!


The small amount of colostrum (the sticky yellow fluid that comes out of the breast before the milk "comes in') is perfect for his newborn system to digest, and provides important antibodies. During the first 24 hours after birth, you usually produce about 37 ml of colostrum The baby will get 7-14ml at each feeding, 1/3 to 1/2 ounce each time you nurse. This special milk is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice.

Think of the colostrum as the rich, nutritious cream at the top of the milk. This is the part that gives your baby a hefty dose of protection - just what he or she needs to start life.


Don't be alarmed if your baby drops a little weight at first. Most babies typically lose up to 7% of their body weight in the first few days. However, A study by Glover and Sandilands showed that "Unsupplemented babies lost significantly less weight than babies supplemented with 5% glucose water

How can I tell if my milk has “come in?”

After about 3-4 days of breastfeeding, your breasts will start to feel less soft and more firm as your milk comes in, and mixes with the colostrum to form a transitional milk. It’s considered mature milk at roughly 10-14 days.

Will my nipples be sore?

Your nipples might be tender at first, but correct latching should prevent any major soreness.


• Your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble – it doesn’t take much to fill it up, so in the early days he’ll want to feed little and often.

• You don’t need to “top up” and don’t let the staff tell you have to. If there are medical issues and something extra is required, ask staff to help you finger feed your baby.

• Often your milk hasn’t come in by the time you leave hospital. Don’t worry – it will!


• Your watch – this is a time for getting to know your baby, not for clock-watching

• A breast pump – if circumstances arise when you really need a breast pump, the hospital will provide (check this first, of course.) You may need to pump later to prepare for returning to work, but now is not the time. Wait till your supply is settled.

• Bottles “just in case” – you’re not going to need those! Bottles in the early days are a big no-no if you're hoping to establish a happy breastfeeding relationship.


All the websites I've given in the body of this document are worth checking out. . Also: This is from the Royal Women’s hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and is particularly informative. Kellymom’s section on Getting Started.

Again, I apologise for the length of this cocument, but preparing for breastfeeding and getting started are important for a happy breastfeeding relationship!


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[deleted account]

Stephanie, congrats on trying so hard! And for learning not to judge.
It really helps to read up on everything, doesn't it?

Stephanie - posted on 02/12/2011




I thought breast feeding would come naturally and did not read up or anything on it when I was pregnant. My daughter was born 2 weeks early and weighed 5 lb 10 oz. The nurse said since she was under 6 pounds, I HAD to give her a bottle. So I did what they told me I had to do and I told them I wanted to breast feed. So after that first feeding we did tubal feedings, so she was getting formula through a tube, but still attached to me and she would pull off and suck the tube like a straw. Nurse said she had never seen a new born do that before. I tried and tried till she was 4 months old. I nursed, gave bottle then pumped. She would just kind of suck on me 20 min each side and then down a bottle in no time. Very frustrating! But it taught me not to judge other mothers, b/c before I got pregnant I thought badly of moms who chose to bottle feed. You cannot say I did not try and my second child I knew to tell the doctors no (she was 6 lb 1 oz 1 month early) so I did not need to and she nursed till she was 18 months old.

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