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How To Prepare For Breastfeeding

Preparing for your breastfeeding journey during the pregnancy can be a helpful step in understanding how breastfeeding works and starting you off on a positive foot. As a midwife and mum of 4, I never realised how challenging breastfeeding can be until after I had my first baby. Since helping many families through my professional journey, I have come up with a guide on how to prepare for breastfeeding, as well as discussing some common concerns along the way.

Getting Ready: The Essentials

Educate Yourself
Before your baby arrives, take some time to read up on breastfeeding. Books, online resources, and attending a One Mama Midwife Antenatal Class can provide valuable information. Knowing what to expect, how breastfeeding works, what is normal and when to seek help can help you feel more confident and prepared.

Antenatally Express Colostrum
Expressing colostrum during the pregnancy can help you have the confidence in how your breasts work, that you do have milk there ready for baby and allows you to store up that colostrum in case your baby needs it.

Find Support
Surround yourself with a supportive network. This can include your partner, family, friends who have breastfed, and professionals like lactation consultants. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and advice. It is also important to remember that everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different, what works for one family might not work for yours and that is okay.

Get the Gear
While breastfeeding is natural, having a few items on hand can make the process

Create a Comfortable Space
Designate a cozy spot in your home for breastfeeding. A comfortable chair, and a
little table for snacks and water can make those feeding sessions more pleasant.

Practice Skin-to-Skin
Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, providing mum and baby are both okay, can help initiate breastfeeding and help with long term breastfeeding success. Having the golden hour with your baby (the first hour after birth where you have undisturbed skin to skin and a breastfeed) has been shown to improve long term breastfeeding success by taking advantage of the postpartum hormones, Oxytocin and Beta-endorphins.

Common Concerns and How to Address Them

Latching Issues
One of the most common concerns is getting a good latch. A poor latch can lead to discomfort, pain, cracked or bleeding nipples and baby may not get enough. If you're struggling, seek help from a lactation consultant. Sometimes, just adjusting your baby's position can make a big difference.

Sore Nipples
It’s normal to experience some discomfort initially, but persistent pain isn’t. You may feel a pulling sensation as your baby pulls the nipple to the soft palate at the back of the throat. You should not feel pinching or sandpaper. Ensure your baby is latching correctly and use silver nipple cups to soothe soreness. Let your nipples air dry after feeds, and even expressing colostrum into the silver cups can protect them between feeds.

Low Milk Supply
Worrying about milk supply is common. Remember, breastfeeding works on supply and demand – meaning that frequent feeding will help stimulate production. When babies go through growth spurts, or want more milk, they may feed more frequently. Monitoring their output, behaviour and weight can help you know if they are getting enough milk. If you're concerned, consult a lactation consultant for individualised advice.


Engorgement typically happens when your milk first comes in, usually between the third and fifth day after birth. It can also occur if your baby isn’t feeding frequently enough or isn’t emptying your breasts completely. Other causes can include sudden changes in your baby’s feeding patterns, such as sleeping longer stretches at night, or if you miss a feeding.

Signs and Symptoms of Engorgement:

  • Swollen, firm, and tender breasts
  • Shiny, tight skin over the breasts
  • Flattened nipples, making it difficult for the baby to latch

How to Manage Engorgement:
Try to feed your baby on demand, as often as they would like. Try not to hold out or space feeds as this can make engorgement worse. Try to make sure that baby is latching properly to ensure that they are emptying the breast effectively. If your
breasts are too hard to latch your baby, sometimes you may have to lie on your back and push fluid away from your nipple or hand express a small amount of milk out to soften the breast. It is important to remember you don’t want to express too much out and make the problem worse. You can then ice after each feed for comfort.

Mastitis occurs when one of the ducts becomes blocked and causes an infection.
Symptoms include feeling a lump, redness, and cold and flu like symptoms. It is
essential to seek proper guidance if you have mastitis, however common treatments include paracetamol, gently massaging the lump to get it moving, ultrasound therapy and icing regularly. If mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection you may require antibiotics to treat it.

Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding can be exhausting, but it’s a normal part of breastfeeding, especially during growth spurts. Prolactin, your hormone responsible for making milk is highest a night, so often periods of cluster feeding for growth spurts will occur at night when this hormone is highest. It is important to remember that this is normal and your baby is simply signalling to your body to produce more milk. Allowing your baby to feed frequently is the best way to help with these growth spurts. Try to rest and stay hydrated during these intense periods. It is important to seek help from a lactation consultant or medical professional if you are concerned that your baby is not receiving enough milk.

Returning to Work
Planning ahead can ease the transition back to work. Start expressing milk a few
weeks before you return and introduce your baby to bottle feeding. Invest in a good breast pump and find a private, comfortable place at work to pump. There are legal requirements for employers in Australia to support your return to work while breastfeeding and enable you extra breaks required for pumping and continuing breastmilk supply. Remember, supply and demand is important and can help you maintain your supply when separated.

Breastfeeding is unique

Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to nourish your baby if you choose to, but it’s also a learning process for both you and your baby. It is important to remember that no one finds breastfeeding easy – even midwives like myself!! But that it will get easier over time. Be patient with yourself and your baby, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Each breastfeeding journey is unique, and what works for one mum may not work for another. Trust your instincts, and remember, you’re doing an amazing job!

Written by Lauren Brenton
Endorsed Midwife
Mum of 4
Founder, One Mama Midwife Pty Ltd