What can I do to prepare for breastfeeding?
Learn and read as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Talk to other mothers who have already breast-fed, read books or articles on BabyCenter to familiarize yourself with them, and contact a local breastfeeding group. Or visit an infant care class and find out about breastfeeding consultants in your area. The more you know about the techniques and benefits of breastfeeding, the greater your chances of success.
Your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy. That's one of the reasons why your breasts are growing so much during this time - their milk ducts and milk-producing glands develop to produce the foremilk, and the breast is more well supplied with blood. But the size of your breasts does not tell you how well you can breastfeed - even if your breasts are small, it will not stop you feeding your baby.
Do I have to harden my nipples or do anything else as a preparation?
The hormonal changes naturally occurring in the breasts through pregnancy are the only preparation every woman needs. You do not need creams to soften the skin, you do not have to express the colostrum. And especially: do not push or rub your nipples! It only hurts and makes breastfeeding difficult. It's best to prepare by convincing your partner to help you breastfeed. This will give you and your baby a good start. Studies show that mothers breastfeed longer, even if their partner is well informed about the subject.
Another option is to inform the doctor or midwife at birth that you want to get as much skin contact with your baby as possible once it is born. Even if you need a cesarean section, then you can push your baby shortly after birth, if the midwife helps. Your baby may be looking for and drinking at the breast, or just smelling, licking, and clinging to it. All these things will make breastfeeding easier for you later.
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