Preparing to breastfeed during pregnancy: while it is no longer recommended to “prepare your breasts for breastfeeding there are several things to keep in mind.
It is not uncommon for your breasts to leak a little colostrum during pregnancy. Your body starts to prepare your breasts to produce milk early in the second trimester. Even if you do have leaking, you will not run out of colostrum before the baby is born. (The breasts don’t kick into full gear of producing milk until after the placenta is delivered from your body.) If you do have leaking, you may find that wearing cloth or disposable nursing pads gives you increased comfort and security. On the other hand, even if you don’t have any leaking it is not a good indicator that you will have problems with milk supply issues. Speaking from experience of breastfeeding seven children into toddlerhood, I never once leaked during pregnancy and I produced plenty of milk.
Another thing to consider in your last trimester is to find several well-fitting nursing bras. Make sure that they don’t fit too snug so you have some room for expansion when your milk does come in. Also make sure that you are comfortable using the clasp to expose the breast for nursing. You will be clasping and unclasping about 8-16 times a day. You may also want to consider a nursing sleep leisure or sport bra. In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding many new moms like the added support of wearing a bra at night. A nursing cami is also a great thing to wear day or night. Sometimes milk production is very abundant in the early weeks and a bra helps to support nursing pads, if needed. Please don’t wear an underwire bra to bed. If the wire isn’t fitted across the chest and presses into the breast tissue, plugged ducts or mastitis could result.
Some dated breastfeeding literature may include a section on “preparing the nipples”. There is no current literature to support this anymore. Pregnant women’s nipples are extremely sensitive and to take a cloth to toughen them is unnecessary and may actually cause damage.
Some expectant moms may notice that their nipples are flat or actually “invert” inward. In most cases these moms will be able to breastfeed successfully. There are a few exercises that may be helpful before delivery. Discuss this with your health care provider or your local lactation consultant before practicing these nipple exercises.
Also, there are many great breastfeeding resources available to you online, in the book stores and at the library. A little breastfeeding reading ahead of time may really pay off in the early days when sleep deprivation and your newly changed lifestyle sets in. It is reassuring when you are going through a rough spot that you have some familiarity with what you are experiencing. A few good resources are “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by LaLeche League, “The Breastfeeding Book” by William Sears and “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers” by Dr. Jack Newman, breastfeedingonline.com, and lalecheleague.com.
And don’t forget to check out Breastfeeding A-Z for breastfeeding tips right here on our web site!