Expectant moms spend hours and sometimes months visioning and planning for the birth of their baby. And yet very few spend much time preparing for their breastfeeding journey.
Prior to the birth of my daughter Cayenne, I, like many expectant moms spent a lot of time getting ready for her arrival.
I hired a doula, did exercises, drank red raspberry leaf tea and talked with my midwife about the details of my birth plan. I watched videos, read books, kept a journal, and even created a vision board. I felt really prepared for my birth!!
But, the only thing I did during my nine months of pregnancy to prepare for my breastfeeding journey was attend a two-hour breastfeeding class.
Then, in the days and weeks after my daughter’s birth, faced with a crying baby who had trouble latching, fears of low milk supply, hunger that seemed insatiable coupled with difficulty finding time to cook (not to mention eat!) and a house with chores that piled up as I spent most of the day nursing, I really wished I had spent more time planning for what life would be like as a breastfeeding mom.
There are 3 questions in particular that I should have asked and answered before embarking on my breast milk journey and that now, in my work as the Breastfeeding Chef, I encourage expectant moms planning to breastfeed/pump to think about:
1. Who Will Be In My Circle Of Support?
When a woman becomes a mom, and especially a breastfeeding mom, our life focus becomes feeding our baby. Breastfed babies get hungry nearly every hour, and sometimes more.
This means that breastfeeding moms have little time for much other than breastfeeding and pumping. Understanding this, it is helpful for expectant moms to gather their circle of support before baby comes.
One of the principle players in your circle of support is a lactation counselor or consultant. A lactation counselor is a breastfeeding expert who can help moms tackle challenges if they arise as well as let a worried mamma know that she and her baby are doing everything right.
Most moms do not think to develop a relationship with a lactation counselor until they are already in the throws of challenges after baby is born.
Instead of waiting until you need a lactation counselor (but do not have one!), I encourage moms to interview lactation counselors while they are still pregnant, find one whose energy and expertise vibe with them, develop a relationship with them and put their number on speed dial.
Let your lactation counselor of choice know that you will want her to visit with you after your baby is born and be there for you should the need arise.
It is so much easier to deal with the stress of breastfeeding challenges with an expert in your corner, with whom you have already developed a relationship, then it is to find one when you are scared and sleep deprived.
2. How Will I Get Food On The Table With A Baby On My Hip…Or Nip?
Many breastfeeding and pumping moms are hungry all the time. But, getting food on the table with a baby on your nip can be a challenge, especially if you have not planned for it.
The first thing moms like you need to learn is what foods best nourish and nurture you as you feed your babies.
Breastfeeding moms can benefit from fueling up on nutrient-rich whole foods that keep them fuller longer (full of fiber!), support and increase their milk supply (like carrots!) and that address or prevent common concerns like colic, cradle cap, and eczema.
Breastfeeding and pumping mamas also want to avoid foods and beverages like – mint, sage, and others that may decrease milk supply in some women.
In addition to learning what foods to eat and avoid, expectant moms can have a less stressful breastfeeding journey if they put into place strategies that help them get food on the table with minimal effort.
For that, I have 3 tips:
- Recruit friends and family who are good cooks and schedule them a day of the week to either bring appropriate foods to your home or take care of the baby while you cook.
- Start filling your freezer now with meals that you can heat up in the oven and enjoy without having to shop, prep or cook.
- Join a food delivery service and choose the meals that contain the most milk supportive and filling ingredients.
3. How Can I Prepare For My Return To Work NOW?
Many breastfeeding and pumping moms choose to stop breastfeeding or pumping when they return to work. Usually because they can not visualize how breastfeeding and pumping will fit into the daily routine of their jobs.
Other moms who may not have intended to stop breastfeeding or pumping find the return to work so stressful and complicated that they decide after a few weeks or months to give up.
But, it does not have to be this way. If moms like you begin to think about your return to work before your baby is born, a premature end to your breast milk journey can be avoided.
Here are three things you can do before your baby is born:
- Become familiar with your rights as a breastfeeding mom back at work in your area.
- Have a conversation with your HR department or direct boss about your intention to continue breastfeeding/pumping when you return to work. Determine when during the day you will be excused to express your milk or feed your baby, where you can express your milk or breastfeed your baby in private, and where you can store you milk.
- Build relationships with other moms in your office who have been through it before or are about to, and create a community of support.