IBCLC Corner with Kira Kim: Preparing to Breastfeed

Preparing to breastfeed

Congratulations!  If you are expecting a baby and you’re here, you’re likely in the whirlwind of preparing for their arrival.  After all the big purchases have been bought, the clothes have been folded and organized, and you’ve attended classes to prepare you for labor and birth, you might be wondering “What else am I forgetting?”

As a private practice IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), the one thing I hear time and time again in private practice is: “I didn’t know this could be so hard! I mean . . . it’s natural.”  Natural does not equal easy by any means!  Here are my tips to help you prepare for your nursing journey.


Sign up for a prenatal breastfeeding class taught by an IBCLC

Birthing classes are important, but babies eat over 2,000 times in their first year of life.  Being prepared is key!  Prenatal classes are a great way to learn what to expect in the first days, signs that things are going well (and signs they aren’t), and can also be a way to meet other new parents-to-be in the area. 

Sign up for a prenatal consult with a private practice IBCLC

If you learn better when information is specific to your situation, then a prenatal consult with an IBCLC will be your best bet for getting the information you need.  In prenatal consults, an IBCLC will go over all the information taught in a class in a condensed format, but will then spend time talking to you about your specific goals and answering all of your questions.  You’ll walk away with all the information you need for the first few weeks, plus a go-to person that you can book a postpartum appointment with if you run into trouble.  My patients have access to a patient portal and can message me back and forth in those early days before we meet up for a postpartum visit. Making that connection while you're still pregnant is a lovely way to ensure that your postpartum journey goes smoothly.  


Grab the gear!

Breastfeeding doesn’t have to come with a lot of gadgets.  That’s one of the perks!  However, these are the items that most new parents find very helpful.  You can use this as a bare-bones list to prep:


Breast pump (electric):  

The Affordable Care Act mandates that your insurance must cover the cost of a pump, whether it is a rental or for personal use.  Check with your insurance to see what they cover.  As an IBCLC, I recommend a double-electric pump for all of my patients.  I see the most success with Spectra S1/S2 for a personal use pump, but many of my patients also like Motif Luna and Zomee.  The most important thing is to find a pump that has multiple settings, an extra battery pack if it needs to be plugged in, and that you get the right size flange (your IBCLC can fit you for one)!  I do not currently recommend the new Medela Pump in Style.  


I always recommend a traditional pump as a first pump versus a wearable pump.  The motors on wearable pumps are not as strong and the pumps have a higher learning curve.  They are intended for occasional use and aren’t appropriate for bringing in or maintaining a supply. 


Breast pump (manual):

Whether you are on the go, or want to save up a little milk here and there, a manual pump can be a great tool.  I always toss one in a diaper bag and another in the glove box of the car, just in case.


Breast pads:

You will leak for at least the first few weeks, though many people leak in some capacity for the entirety of their nursing days.  If you are using disposable pads, stock up and change them every time you are changing your postpartum pad.  This will help you stay dry and avoid yeast. Reusable pads made of bamboo or wool are popular as well. These should be changed at the first sign of dampness.


Nursing bras/tanks:

There are so many different bras and tanks to choose from. A good rule of thumb is 3 or 4 sleep bras, like these and 2 regular bras. I advise people to measure for a bra or tank once you are past 37 or 38 weeks if possible.  At this point, baby drops and your rib cage can come in slightly.  So it’s the best time to measure. Here is a handy guide on how to measure.


Nipple cream:

Soft nipple creams and butters are best to help with early postpartum tenderness.  Cracking, bleeding and chafing are not normal though, so if you are experiencing any of those issues, please seek help. 


There are plenty of other gadgets available, but this will get you off to a solid start.  After meeting with an IBCLC, they can give you personalized recommendations. If you have any questions or need any recommendations, send us a note and we can help!


About Kira Kim, IBCLC, RLC, CLE:

Kira Kim is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in private practice serving families in Boston/Cambridge and the North Shore of Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Public health, is a Clinical Herbalist and has studied out-of-hospital based midwifery care through Mercy in Action and the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance. Marrying her love of birth with lactation, her clinical interest is in the influence of fetal positioning during labor and birth on early nursing success. In addition to providing in home lactation care, she teaches prenatal lactation for parents, lactation basics for doulas and midwives, and runs a small group for female identifying individuals on the topic of emotional blocks to sexual satisfaction.

She is the Past President of the Massachusetts Lactation Consultant Association and former consumer chair on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance. Whether she is helping new families navigate the early days, helping a nursing duo define their own success or teaching birthworkers and parents, she is passionate about connecting with other people and encouraging them to spread their knowledge to others. She firmly believes in the importance of alone time and you can often find her riding her bike, playing her piano or perusing antique shops for mid-century modern furniture. She lives by the beach with her husband, their four rambunctious kids, and a old, lazy cat.

To make an appointment, seek support or to learn more, visit Kira's website: https://thebalc.com

Kira Kim IBCLC
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