The best ways to prepare to breastfeed your baby include gathering as much information as possible about the in's and out's of breastfeeding. The health benefits, along with buying the proper materials to get you ready, surrounding yourself with a good support system, and familiarizing yourself with what to expect when you breastfeed your baby.
Perhaps you're not fully decided on whether or not you are going to breastfeed or not. The best time to decide this is the weeks leading up to your delivery. You can educate yourself through online literature, videos on Youtube have tutorials on proper techniques and positions, attend classes during one of your pre-natal appointments at your hospital, and attend any La Leche League meetings. If you are enrolled in your WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, then they offer free breastfeeding classes. You can ask as many questions to the Nutritionists and Dieticians as they are very supportive in whatever decision you make.
Surrounding yourself with peer support is an excellent way to keep you going during those first few tiring weeks of breastfeeding. Meet with friends, relatives, or co-workers that you know did breastfeeding, even if it was only for a few months worth of experience it is still helpful to hear what they experienced. Have some lunch with them and talk about any questions you have in mind. Every woman has a different experience breastfeeding so be mindful in the different responses you will get. You can also get in contact with local breastfeeding support groups at community centers and they will get you in touch with lactation consultants that will be all ears during your hospital stay or your exciting first few days when you return home.
What to Buy
A product you should consider purchasing should be a breast pump. If you plan on returning to work after your maternity leave then this is an essential tool you will be needing. Most electric breast pumps are affordable, if you look around at many different online vendors and/or popular stores you might frequent for your motherhood items, you will definitely find one you can feel comfortable purchasing. If you experienced a complicated pregnancy, some hospitals allow you to rent one for a charge or for free (depending on your insurance). You may also want to buy nursing tops, nursing pads, nursing pillows such as the Boppy pillow, and a lot of hand towels you can keep with you (it will get messy!). I personally don't recommend buying lanolin ointment as the nurses and lactation consultants I spoke with advise that applying breast milk to your nipples will help alleviate any soreness. What better way to save on money and a natural remedy that helps than by applying your own breast milk!
If you decide on breastfeeding then it's wise to think of the health benefits that come along with it. You will have to eat healthy foods while you're breastfeeding and on a more frequent basis. Start thinking about planning for meals that will keep you going during your initial first weeks. Freeze meals that you can make before your due date and stock up on healthy snacks. You can count on being hungry almost all the time during your first few days of breastfeeding so be prepared! You are technically eating for two AFTER you give birth instead of during your pregnancy. You need an average of 300-600 more calories while breastfeeding.