• The foundation for breastfeeding is established in the
    first few weeks after delivery.
  • Planning ahead for breastfeeding can help you build a good breastfeeding routine.
  • Minor problems may occur during
    breastfeeding. But with proper planning, knowledge, and support, you can
    overcome these challenges and continue breastfeeding.

How to plan ahead

Breastfeeding is a
learned skill that becomes easier over time. You are more likely to succeed
with long-term breastfeeding if you plan ahead, learn the basic techniques, and know where to get help and support.

Make plans during pregnancy

Plan ahead for breastfeeding
while you are pregnant. Doing so before you deliver allows you time to think
about how to manage the daily logistics of breastfeeding before you become too
busy with caring for your newborn.

  • Talk to your doctor early in your prenatal
    care about your plans to breastfeed. Before each visit, write down your
    breastfeeding questions or concerns. While you are pregnant is the time to
    talk to your doctor about any plans you have to
    breastfeed both an older child and your newborn.
  • Arrange to attend a breastfeeding class and possibly join a
    breastfeeding support group. These are offered at many hospitals and birthing
    centers by nurses, nurse-midwives, or
    lactation consultants. Classes and support groups can
    help you anticipate and manage breastfeeding difficulties, should they arise.
  • Talk to friends and family members about your decision. Discuss
    how their support is important in your efforts.
  • Check the
    breastfeeding policies of the hospital and birthing
    centers you are considering. It is much easier to breastfeed when you are in a
    supportive environment, such as in a facility that has a lactation consultant
    on staff, encourages keeping the baby in the room with you (rooming in), and
    has a policy of not supplementing your baby’s diet unless medically necessary.
  • Purchase breastfeeding items, such as breast pads, extra pillows,
    and nursing bras. Check with your hospital to see whether they have
    breast pumps available for you to use after your baby is born. And think about what type of breast pump you would use.
  • Plan to have help with chores, diaper
    changes, and other duties for the first few weeks after your baby is born.
    Getting help can let you focus on caring for and feeding your newborn.

Learn breastfeeding basics

Take a
breastfeeding class while you are pregnant. These classes usually are offered
through your local hospital or birthing center.

Be ready to start breastfeeding soon after you deliver. A baby is
typically very alert during the first couple of hours after birth. This is the
best time to start breastfeeding. A nurse or other doctor will help you with
proper latching and getting started.

After this alert wakeful time, your baby will become sleepy and
less likely to eat regularly for the next several hours. Be sure to try breastfeeding your
baby every 1 to 3 hours (even if you have to
wake your baby). Usually, a hospital
staff person checks in with you routinely. If available, a lactation consultant
may help you learn other breastfeeding
tips and positions.

You’ll want to plan to breastfeed your baby on demand rather than setting a
strict schedule. Learn how to recognize your baby’s hunger signs. For the
first few days, be prepared to breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours, or about 8 to 12 times
in a 24-hour period. Wake a sleepy baby to feed, if necessary. More frequent
breastfeeding stimulates your breasts to produce more milk.

Taking care of yourself will also help you to establish your milk supply.
Eat right and get rest when you are able. Also, avoid bottle-feeding your
baby breast milk until breastfeeding and milk supply are well established.

Know where to get help

If a minor problem arises that does
not quickly resolve, get prompt assistance from a breastfeeding specialist
such as a lactation consultant or other doctor who is knowledgeable about
breastfeeding issues. Quickly addressing breastfeeding issues helps solve
problems and increases your likelihood of successful long-term breastfeeding.
If possible, arrange to have a specialist visit you at home, or make plans to
visit the specialist’s office.

Have a list of resources available
to call, such as:

  • Your doctor.
  • A lactation
  • Friends and family who are experienced with and
    supportive of breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding support groups.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC – Lactation Consultant

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017