Today starts the How to Feed Your Kid Series on the blog and I’m so excited about it!  There are so many ways to feed your kid.  Breast, Bottle Feeding, Formula, solids, etc.  As with most things these days there is SO MUCH information out there and its hard to know what is the right thing for you and your kid.  I am by no means an expert on these topics, however I thought I (and some of our guest contributors) could share with you our experiences in different areas of feeding babies in hopes that maybe by sharing our stories it will help you to navigate the waters of figuring out what is right for you.  Oh and we’re going to laugh too, laughing is a must on this blog.  

So you’re pregnant, congrats.  Have people started asking you if you are going to breastfeed yet? How annoying is that? Seriously.  I know people mean well, but when random strangers and people you barely know start giving you unsolicited advice on breastfeeding it can get pretty irritating.  Especially if you aren’t sure you want to breastfeed.

When I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to breastfeed.  More about that here.  I knew I wanted to try, but I was scared.  Up until that point the only person playing with my boobs was my husband and I wasn’t sure I wanted to change that.  But breast is best they say, yada yada yada.

The thing is though, breastfeeding is hard.  Don’t get me wrong it was totally worth it (for me anyway), but it was hard in the beginning.  And the thing is, that when I was pregnant I wasn’t really expecting it to be hard.  I guess I wasn’t really thinking much about it all (other than it being scary).

I can’t make breastfeeding not be hard and I can’t guarantee you that it is going to work for you.  But what I can do is give you information.  Things to help you navigate the world of breastfeeding so that you don’t feel quite so overwhelmed AND in those first few days you know what is considered normal because honestly, at first everything feels kind of abnormal.

Here are my top 8 tips to help you prepare to breastfeed (or help you out if you are already breastfeeding and feeling stuck).

1. Read a book

Note I said A BOOK, not books multiple.  Its so tempting to feel like you need to read 7 different books to learn what the heck you are supposed to be doing, but just don’t.  1. You don’t have a lot of time and 2. There is no need to overwhelm yourself.  A lot of this process is just jumping right in learning as you go, but getting a little bit of education beforehand is important.  I recommend the book Breastfeeding Made Simple.  Please note there are a lot of great pictures in here of latches however if you are reading this in public you might want to take a gander as to who is sitting close to you when you are reading.  You never know who is looking over your shoulder (awkward).  Anyway, the writers of this book have a great website that actually shows animations of what proper latches look like.  I found it to be a very helpful resource.

2. Bookmark this site

Kellymom is an awesome website full of information to help you prepare to breastfeed, wean from breastfeeding and EVERYTHING in between.  I reference this site ALL THE TIME.  Remember how I said that I’m not an expert? Well the chick that runs this site is.  If you are pregnant you might just poke around a little bit, but definitely bookmark this for later.  A few of the resources from the site that really helped me are this, this, and this.

3. Find an App you like

Once the baby is born you are going to need to start logging your feedings as well as wet and dirty diapers.  That is going to be your best indication that your baby is getting enough milk.  Your brain is going to be mush for a few weeks so there is no way you are going to be able to remember all of this on your own so find an app you like to track everything.  I recommend the Total Baby App.

4. Make plans to visit with a lactation consultant

Lactation consultants are breastfeeding ninjas, you are going to want to meet with one while you are in the hospital.  Generally they come to your room to visit on their own, but make sure that you tell your nurse that you need them to come and see you just in case they forget.  I had one come each day that I was in the hospital which was nice because day 2 I was way more seasoned than day 1 and I assure you each day you will have a whole new host of questions for them.  Often times the hospitals will even let you come back after the baby is born to meet with the lactation consultants to help you troubleshoot any issues that you are having.  Check into this before the baby is born.  You know, just so you get your bases covered.  In addition, if you are in the Des Moines area, there is a great place called Basking babies that has breastfeeding education classes as well as support if you are having issues.  If you aren’t in Des Moines they can help you via Skype.  My point? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

5. Check out your local Le Leche League

Le Leche League is an international support system for breastfeeding women.  Each large-ish city has a chapter which provides education via leaders that can meet with you in person or talk with you over the phone.  In addition they monthly meetings where you can bring your babies and your questions and some cities have awesome Facebook groups that provide support that way.  Here in Des Moines the Le Leche Facebook page has TONS of information.  I’ve gone there to ask questions more than once and I always get some great insight from other mamas.

6. Practice Intuition

Here is one of the biggest things I’ve learned when it comes to breastfeeding: trust your gut.  There is SO much information out there.  It can honestly be paralyzing.  You can google yourself to death finding out “is this normal”…. Try not to.  Yes seek help if you are having issues, but also remember that women have been breastfeeding babies since before the internet, since before books were written about it.  How did they do it? They figured it out.  Trusting their instincts and following their babies cues. Before you go on google overdrive stop and ask yourself, what do I think I should do about this? The truth is that no matter what you find on google you are probably going to end up doing what your gut tells you to do so do yourself a favor and try that option first.

7. Have the right crap on hand

The last thing you are going to want to do after you have a baby and your tits get all engorged and achy is go shopping (unless its online in which case you will be irritated you have to wait).  So do some shopping beforehand.  Don’t go overboard because you won’t be sure of what you love yet, but make sure to have a pump (you can usually get this at the hospital and its covered by insurance, a few nursing tanks, nursing bras, a boppy, a water bottle, and some nipple cream (and start using that stuff immediately).

8. Get some help from your partner

You will be the one feeding the baby, you know that.  But you are going to need some support from your partner.  Make sure they know this beforehand.  Check out (and have them check out) this post for 7 ways they can provide support.

Life is about to get crazy, and awesome.  The fact that you have read this far tells me that you are committed, maybe even more committed than you realize.  Good for you.  Just remember to trust your gut and seek help when you need it.

Now I want to hear from you!

What’s the best breastfeeding resource you’ve come across (website, book, dvd, person)? Tell me in the comments below