During pregnancy, there seems to be a lot of focus on birthing, but very little on what happens once your baby is born. One of the biggest factors that can make or break a woman’s success in her breastfeeding journey is the support she receives.
- Go to a breastfeeding education class (the Australian Breastfeeding Association run them regularly in a variety of locations) and take a support person – your partner, mum, dad, best friend or whoever you plan to lean on. It’s great to have a support person with you, just in case you are a little forgetful during pregnancy, or in case you suffer from brain fog or sleep deprivation once bub comes along.
- Find out of the Australian Breastfeeding Association have a local support group. Find out when and where they hold meetings. It can be a great comfort to go along to a meeting with your new baby, where all of the attendees actively support breastfeeding, and probably have breastfed in the past, if they aren’t currently breastfeeding. You can also call the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM. They have trained breastfeeding counsellors available 24/7 and you don’t need to be a member to access this service.
- Identify which of your friends and family are going to understand. Which ladies have breastfed their kids? Which men have supported their partners while breastfeeding? Identify who will help you get through your bad days instead of encouraging you to quit.
- Ask your hospital if they employ an IBCLC (an international board certified lactation consultant – a health care professional who is trained and experienced in lactation), and if so, how you get access to them. What days and times do they work? Will you need to make an appointment with them? Will they visit you during your hospital stay? Can you see them after you have been discharged?
- What other public services are available? Is there a local breastfeeding clinic? Is there an IBCLC available through a local community health centre? Do you need an appointment or can you drop in?
- What private services are available? Are there any IBCLC’s working in private clinics? Are there any that will come and see you at home? How much do they cost? Do they bulk bill? If you have private health insurance, will you be eligible for a rebate?
- Are there any online support groups available? The Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group have over 16,000 members – that is a massive amount of collective knowledge!
Identifying your support network during pregnancy will help boost your confidence – knowing there are so many people there to help you succeed will be uplifting. Don’t wait until you are tired, upset, hormonal or distressed before looking for support. Preparing in advance will save you time in the long run.