Thursday, January 6, 2011

What You Need to Know While You're Still Pregnant

That first BFP (big fat positive) on the pregnancy test can bring up so many emotions. I started balling when I got my first. Not strictly out of happiness... more fear, stress, and an overwhelming "ohmygawdwhatamIgoingtodo?!" The second and third just put a HUGE smile on my face, and I immediately started planning. Books I needed to get (and read!); appointments needing to be made; baby registries to be started.

Of everything that needs to be done, I feel that the two most important are: deciding on your birth plan, reading EVERYTHING you can to ensure that you know fully what to expect -good and bad- and making an early decision to breastfeed. Not, "Well, I'm going to try..." but a very determined, "I AM going to breastfeed my child." At the bottom of this post, I'll list some amazing books (and a couple to avoid) to get you started in the birth and breastfeeding arena.

Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes, and many birthing centers do as well. They're bare bones "get you started" classes, and can be a great jumping off point! Take what you learn there, and look more deeply into subjects online, in books, or by asking friends and family that have nursed. It's definitely not enough information to call it good and expect breastfeeding to go smoothly, but is still worth the 2-3 hours.

Once you've begun your information download, the next step is to start attending your local La Leche League meetings (the link will take you to a map of all the groups worldwide!). LLL is a mother-to-mother support group, full of women that are pregnant for the first time up to older women with grown children that have nurslings of their own... a fantastic resource for all mothers. These women have discovered how breastfeeding blossoms into nursing, and how mothering at the breast creates an amazing bond and makes breastfeeding so much more enjoyable, and more than anything, want to share.

Just like you've begun to write out your birth plan, you should begin to look into making a breastfeeding birth plan. This includes the most natural birth as possible (as epidurals and c-sections have been proven to delay breastfeeding and can sabotage the nursing relationship), breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, and limiting visitors in the hospital/birthing center and also when at home. Here is a fantastic article about getting started with breastfeeding at the hospital.

After you've made your birth plan and your decision to breastfeed, the next step is to ASK. Any questions you might have, even if you think it's silly or TMI. You need to know as much as humanly possible in order to succeed. Ask friends, family, LLL leaders, lactation counselors, the peer counselors at WIC (if you're on it), and me! If anyone gives you a piece of advice that you find yourself questioning, get a 2nd, 3rd... 17th opinion. Best intentions don't always equal the best information.

Happy pregnancy!

Some awesome books to read:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, and Ann Keppler

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition, by LLL International
So That's What They're For, by Janet Tamaro
The Breastfeeding Cafe, by Barbara Behrmann
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, by Ina May Gaskin

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