Five ways to make breastfeeding easier – BEFORE you have your baby!

“I will breastfeed –if I can.” This is such a common phrase and with breast feeding horror stories almost as prevalent as scary birth stories, is it any wonder pregnant women have their confidence shot even before they meet their newborn?

Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging at first – it’s natural but it’s also a learned skill like riding a bike or driving a car. And you wouldn’t simply hop on a bike or get in a car and expect to cruise off without any instruction or preparation, would you? By preparing for breastfeeding you give yourself a much better chance of beating the ‘booby traps’ and getting through the early days more easily.

Learn about breastfeeding – before you have a crying, hungry baby in your arms and doubt in your heart.

Read a good book about basic breastfeeding -how milk is made, how to tell when your baby is hungry(look for signs such as putting his hand to his mouth, sucking noises and rooting towards your breasts), how to tell your baby is getting enough milk (tip: is he having heavy wet nappies? What comes out must have gone in), how boost your breast milk supply (see Pinky’s ebook and recording package Breastfeeding Simply). Watch videos of babies breastfeeding – Dr Jack Newman has some good videos on Youtube. Go to a breastfeeding class – the Australian Breastfeeding Association offer antenatal breastfeeding classes and join a breastfeeding support group such as the ABA or an online group and talk to women who are breastfeeding happily so you can get positive, helpful information, rather than horror stories.

Get to know ‘the girls’

There are some factors that may make breastfeeding a bit more challenging but by being aware of how your own boobs look and any medical or physical issues that could affect or delay breastfeeding, you can see a lactation consultant before you have your baby and create a breastfeeding plan. This way, you are ahead of the game and ready to deal with problems as soon as they arise. For instance, what shape are your nipples? Do they pop out easily for baby to attach or do you have flat or inverted nipples (this doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed, just that you may need some extra help at first)?   If you have PCOS, diabetes or thyroid disorders, have had late or minimal breast development during puberty or pregnancy, have uneven sized or widely spaced breasts, this could signal possible challenges too, so discuss these with a lactation consultant. You can also gain confidence in your boobs and your body by expressing colostrum (the yellowish fluid in your breasts before milk comes in) during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This way, if there is any delay in your milk ‘coming in’ or your baby has low blood sugars (possible if you have diabetes), you can give this to your baby and avoid formula top-ups.

Understand the ‘Booby Traps’

Sometimes, in a busy hospital, you may be rushed into situations that aren’t helpful to early breastfeeding. For instance, if a midwife grabs your baby to ram it onto your breast, put your hand up in a stop sign and ask, “please can you guide me, I would like to try myself.” If your baby seems to be having difficulty attaching to the breast, get a health professional to check for tongue tie (they need to feel inside his mouth, not just see that he can poke his tongue out).

Your baby is likely to be cranky on his second night (he’s just realized he is ‘on the outside’), so you may be offered a bottle of formula. This can affect your baby’s gut environment as well as interfering with your body’s messages to produce milk. Allow your baby to practice breastfeeding now, before your milk comes in (he is learning to coordinate sucking swallowing and breathing before he has to deal with a fast flow of milk and he is stimulating your breasts to start making milk). Offer skin to skin cuddles as this will help him feel calm and will boost your milk making hormones. If you are exhausted, get your partner to hold your baby and help him settle.

Plan your cheer squad

All new mothers need support however you feed your baby. A supportive partner is a huge factor in your breastfeeding success so first up, discuss with your partner how they can support you: taking time off work, censoring visitors, allowing you to rest, feeding you and being positive about breastfeeding – never asking ‘are you sure you have enough milk?’ Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you and offer practical help such as meals, laundry and shopping.

Prepare your feeding station

Plan to do nothing else but rest and learn to breastfeed for the first two weeks: Set up a comfortable space to feed your baby, a comfy chair with a basket of goodies such as a water bottle (for you), healthy snacks, a pen and notepad, Tv remote, phone, a book (if you can manage to feed one handed). If this isn’t your first baby, prepare some boxes of toys or busy bags with simple activities or small treats for your toddler that only come out at feed times.


Pinky McKay is an International Board Certified lactation Consultant and best-selling baby care author. She is also the creator of Boobie Bikkies, all natural and organic cookies for breastfeeding mums to boost your energy and support a healthy milk supply. Grab a free sample and free ebook ‘Making More Mummy Milk, Naturally’ at


  1. Dorothy McM says

    What is the link with thyroid issues and breast feeding challenges? I’ve an underactive thyroid, struggled for 5 months with bf& no-one ever mentioned that my thyroid might’ve been an exacerbating issue.

  2. Jesse says

    I’d like to know more about thyroid issues too. I had low supply with my first, but also lost 2 litres of blood postpartum and had a retained placenta. Bub also had tongue tie and jaundice… Hoping for an easier time with my second.

    1. Comadrona says

      Anaemia, either from blood loss at birth or during pregnancy, is a prime reason for low milk supply – and hardly anyone tells mothers that! Underactive thyroid can also make things difficult as the thyroid governs many of the hormones involved in childbearing. In both cases taking Spirulina can help, particularly with anaemia. If you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism but your blood tests indicate levels of thyroid hormones are normal, go and see a doctor who specislises in integrative medicine as nutritional supplements and a better diet can successfully address subclinical hypothyroidism. For anaemia I recommend at least 15-20 grams of Spirulina daily and it usually helps not only to raise haemoglobin levels but, over time, raises iron stores (indicated by increasing ferritin levels). Also rest, good food, plenty of water and support are important for successful breastfeeding.

      1. Pinky says

        Thank you for this information, I always recommend women get thyroid and iron levels checked as these levels certainly can impact milk supply.

  3. Shannon heiberg says

    Join the aba, they are amazing, especially when you lack family close by.

  4. […] are not especially ‘stretchy’. Many experts recommend massaging your nipples with pure lanolin before the birth, to increase […]

  5. […] to ‘prepare’ them for breastfeeding. In case you are pregnant and wondering how to prepare for breastfeeding before you have your baby, the best thing you can do is line up your support team – your […]

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Pinky McKay's Breastfeeding Simply eBook

‘Breastfeeding Simply – How to make breastfeeding easy, enjoyable and successful’ by Pinky McKay, IBCLC Lactation Consultant (that’s the gold standard for breastfeeding professionals), is a complete, easy to follow road map that reveals how you can produce nature’s own amazing wonder food for your baby – simply, easily, successfully – RIGHT NOW!