Pregnancy can be an exciting time full of dreaming and planning. Choosing how you plan to feed your baby is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions you face! You are surrounded by other mothers sharing their experiences. Your midwife or obstetrician may be talking about the importance of breastfeeding to your and your baby's health. But what to do if you still aren't sure if breastfeeding is for you?
I recommend meeting with an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) even before your baby arrives. As an IBCLC, when I meet with a client prenatally we have a discussion that centers around her and her thoughts on breastfeeding. I weave in information and suggestions as needed. Above all, I listen to her. I am trained to give each woman culturally-appropriate information and assist her in making breastfeeding work with her life. Sometimes this looks like short-term goals; sometimes this involves pumping skills.
When I am working with a client, I like to ask her what she has heard about breastfeeding. The answers a client gives usually opens the door for us to talk about any myths she has heard. For example, a woman may not think she should breastfeed because she eats junk food, drinks soda, or smokes. While it is important to eat healthy foods, limit sugary drinks, and stop smoking, it is fine for a woman to breastfeed even if she does not do these things. In fact, it is even more important to consider breastfeeding if you smoke.
Maybe you are a busy woman and feel that bottle-feeding will be easier to fit into your schedule. It's great that you are thinking of how to best meet your and your baby's needs! You may find it helpful to know that over time, breastfeeding actually becomes easier- and faster. During a meeting with an IBCLC you can learn what to expect with breastfeeding and plan ahead accordingly.
Perhaps you are not comfortable with the thought of a baby nursing at the breast. This is a common concern for pregnant women. It's understandable to feel cautious especially if you do not know what to expect- and those around you seem to have endless streams of scary stories of cracked, bleeding nipples! I hope you find comfort in knowing that breastfeeding does not have to be painful, and in fact, should not be painful. An IBCLC can help you learn to breastfeed comfortably and get you the help you need if an underlying cause, such as a tongue tie, is causing a painful latch.
As a mother who once said I was uncomfortable with breastfeeding, I will give you the same advice I gave myself: just try it! Learn more about it and ask questions. If you have some trouble once you first get started, call an IBCLC for help right away. We want to support you in meeting your goals!