Every expectant mum should prepare herself both physically and mentally to breastfeed. Participating in prenatal clinics is a great way of educating yourself of things that you normally would not be aware of. Learning about breastfeeding in advance can make your life much easier once your little one is born. That is why some mums call this the ‘milk class’.
Here are some useful things that these sessions teach mums-to-be:
- Benefits of breastfeeding to both the baby and mum.
- The correct way to hold and feed a baby.
- Important things to know and to expect after the delivery.
- The amount of nutrients to take while breastfeeding.
- Support you will need from other household members during this period, particularly during the first three months.
- Disadvantages of feeding your baby artificial milk.
- In addition to the above, these classes will give an opportunity for:
- Other mums to share their experiences relating to breastfeeding.
- Sharing any fears or concerns you might have.
- Getting your breasts checked against any concerns you may have.
- Building your own confidence to breastfeed.
- Finding out about the support you can receive from the health care system and midwives.
- Learning about the first milk (colostrum) that is expressed and its benefits.
There are various negative rumours about breastfeeding that are widely prevalent in our society, such as your body becoming ugly and your breasts changing in shape and sagging. The prenatal classes will teach mums-to-be the right facts about breastfeeding. The truth is breastfeeding actually helps a mum to lose weight and gain back her figure while providing nutritious food for the little one. This is because when a mum breastfeeds, her body will not store excess fat. The classes will also educate mums on how to prevent sagging of breasts by purchasing special bras in the market made for this purpose.
One of the biggest stressors for any new mum is a fear that she will not be able to produce enough milk for her little one. If this fear is unchecked, this could result in stress and depression in the mum, who may even need antidepressants to recover. This is where prenatal classes can be of great benefit. Mums are taught that although not a lot of milk will be expressed in the first 2-3 days after childbirth, milk production will increase after a few days, and will steadily improve as the little one becomes better at sucking. Knowing these facts will enable a mum to be more confident and less stressed out. Each mum will produce a varying amount of milk. Regardless of this, on average a mum will produce more than sufficient amounts of milk for their little one.
Another common issue that mums worry about is the shape of their nipples, particularly if they are flat or sunken. In most cases, mums need not worry about this because their nipples will start protruding close to childbirth. There are also some remedial actions a mum can do before childbirth such as regularly pressing the area just outside the nipple so that the nipple will start to protrude. You can also hold the nipple using your fingertips and roll it a few times a day, it will also help if you use a softening cream as you carry out this exercise. In addition, you can use a breast pump or a plastic syringe to help your nipples to protrude. A mum would find it hard to do the above by herself, which is why it is important to request help from medical staff in the hospital or the neighborhood midwife. Most often the issue of flat or sunken nipples can be identified when hospitalized and the medical staff will help you overcome it.
It is important to note that your baby will not only be sucking the nipple, but also your breast. When you are nursing, you must insert the darkened area around the nipple, known as the areola, fully into your baby’s mouth. When this is done and as your little one sucks on the areola, this will cause the nipple to protrude. You could also commence breast massaging six weeks prior to childbirth as a way of preparing her breasts to feed her little one.