Learning to breastfeed
Breastfeeding is natural, but it’s also a learned skill. Because we don’t often see other women breastfeeding, we don’t learn as we’re growing up all the little tricks that can make it easier.
But there are things that you can do to prepare for breastfeeding. The most important thing is to learn the basic facts — how your breasts make milk (your ‘milk supply’), and what your baby needs to do to get the milk out (attaching or latching to the breast). Before you have your baby It’s a great idea to go along to a class that’s all about breastfeeding. Some hospital antenatal classes will include this, but often the focus is more on the birth. If you do a dedicated breastfeeding class you will get more information about breastfeeding, including different positions you can use so that you can find a breastfeeding position that’s comfortable for both you and your baby. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time feeding baby, so it’s really important to be comfortable!
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has been running Breastfeeding Education Classes for many years, based on what breastfeeding mums and their support people really need to know. Every mum-to-be who books in can bring her partner or another support person to the class, for free, as we know that support is so important for new mums. Last year we expanded our offering to provide online Breastfeeding Education Live classes. Rather than just a recording, these are presented live by two of our trained volunteers, so participants can ask questions. These sessions also include time to chat with a mum with a young baby to get the real scoop on what life is like post-baby and what they found most helpful.
As well as how breasts make milk and the various ways you can hold baby so they can easily get the milk out, our classes cover how to tell when baby needs a feed, how to tell whether baby is getting enough milk, how to get more milk into baby without needing formula, and what to do if your nipples hurt. Our face-to-face classes also have more information about how dads/partners can support mum, expressing milk, going back to work, and weaning. We also provide hardcopy or online resources that you can look at after the class to remind you of what you learned (very useful when you’re a sleep-deprived mess after baby has been born!)
Most people who attend our classes also become members of ABA, which gives you extra resources and a ready-made support network. Research shows that antenatal breastfeeding education combined with postnatal breastfeeding support increases the number of women who reach their breastfeeding goals. So if breastfeeding your baby is something you want to do, hop online, join ABA and sign up for the next class in your local area or online.