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Getting Ready to Breastfeed Before Baby Arrives

5 tips to prepare for your nursing journey before labor even begins.

Getting Ready to Breastfeed Before Baby Arrives

The mechanics of breastfeeding can seem pretty obvious. As someone said to me when I was pregnant and concerned about breastfeeding, “What’s to know? You just stick the kid on there.” Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Everyone ends up with a unique breastfeeding experience, but there’s a lot you can do before labor even begins to prepare for and foster a positive breastfeeding relationship with your baby (or babies). This can be challenging because there is a lot of information out there, and it can be overwhelming to process and figure out what will be essential for you and your baby. For example the mom of premature baby will have different concerns and needs than the mom of a full-term baby. Plus, no matter how much you, as the parent, prepare, your baby doesn’t have that opportunity. For him, breastfeeding is facilitated by instinct, reflex and practice. Therefore your preparations should focus on allowing your newborn to nurse and practice his latch as often as possible.

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To help you start your nursing journey on the right foot, we’ve highlighted five tips to get ready to nurse before labor even begins.

Take a prenatal breastfeeding class. In my experience (and the research confirms it), prenatal breastfeeding education is a primary factor for positive breastfeeding outcomes. Accurate information about breastfeeding, in a modern context, is essential for parents to reach their breastfeeding goals. So find a class that fits your philosophy, and bring a friend and/or partner (it’s hard to remember everything -- and anything -- after you’ve had a baby). During the class, you should go over topics like basic biology of how milk production in humans works; the nuts and bolts of obtaining a comfortable and effective latch; and how to know the baby is getting enough milk from the breast. The class should cover what families can expect in those early weeks after the baby is born, as well as give tools and resources to troubleshoot if you end up encountering complications.

Go watch some moms’ nurse their babies. Youtube videos just don’t cut it. You have to see the real thing, in 3D, to really understand what it takes to breastfeed. That said, many moms can be shy or private about breastfeeding. So you may need to search for a willing mom for a while. If you have a friend who is nursing, ask her if you can watch her. If you don’t know anyone who’s nursing, many support groups are happy to let moms- to-be observe. La Leche League is a great place to start. Also, many YMCA locations and maternity-oriented shops have support groups, so ask around. If you live in New York, The New York Lactation Consultants Association lists all the support groups in and around the city.

Find out what kind of support is available at the hospital. Many hospitals talk a good game about supporting breastfeeding but don’t deliver as much help as you might need or expect. So when you go visit the maternity floor, ask if they have lactation consultants and how often they are available (is it every day, every other day or just on Sundays?). Some hospitals also train nurses to double as lactation consultant, which can be very helpful. However, the maternity floor can be very busy. If the nurses are swamped with their many nursing duties, they may not have the time to focus on individual breastfeeding support.

Find your local resources. Whether it’s from the Internet or from friends who have recently had babies, you can find great resources for tips and advice on breastfeeding. The International Lactation Consultant Association lists board-certified lactation consultants in your area and around the world. La Leche League has local chapters that offer peer support. The New York Lactation Consultants Association also offer a directory of consultants in the area.

Call your insurance company about coverage for breastfeeding help and support. Insurance -- it’s complicated. The healthcare.gov webste says, “health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding.” These services may be provided before and after birth. This applies to Marketplace plans and all other health insurance plans, except for grandfathered plans. Though most insurance policies should cover prenatal breastfeeding classes and postpartum support, many breastfeeding families have a hard time getting reimbursed for out-of-network services. That’s why I recommend you talk to someone who knows your insurance’s policies (for more information, go here, here and here). Most importantly, don’t give up. The more knowledgeable a mother is about her rights and the more persistent she is, the harder it will be for the insurance companies to deny her compensations.

Patricia McGuire is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, (IBCLC). She has worked in a hospital setting and in private practice for over 10 years. She serves NYC, Queens and Brooklyn. Patricia has a BA from City College in Public health and media studies.

Photography by Laura Vladimirova of Natural Birth Bebe.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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