Breastfeeding: preparing during pregnancy

It helps to know as much as possible about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby and breastfeeding is perfect for you too.

Find out why and what you can do to prepare for breastfeeding your baby. You can also watch our video Preparing for birth.

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby because:

  • it’s all your baby needs to eat and drink for about the first 6 months
  • it helps to protect your baby against colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies. It also helps to protect your baby from dying suddenly in their sleep
  • breastfeeding helps your baby to feel safe and secure.

Breastfeeding is perfect for you too

Breastfeeding is perfect for you too because:

  • it gives you a chance to rest while you are feeding your baby
  • it helps you to feel close to your baby
  • it saves you time
  • it’s free
  • it may reduce your risk of some cancers and bone disease.

Planning for breastfeeding

Many women who are pregnant think about breastfeeding and wonder if they will be able to do it. Often women say they will do it if they can, and almost all women can breastfeed. Getting support from whānau and friends, watching other mothers breastfeed, practising breastfeeding and going to pregnancy and parenting classes or a breastfeeding class can all help you with breastfeeding.

Get support

You need support to breastfeed – finding support people is important. Members of a whānau who have breastfed or who encourage women in their decisions to breastfeed can be very helpful and supportive. Find out who in your whānau could be a good support person when you’re establishing breastfeeding.

Watch other mothers breastfeed

Watching other mothers breastfeed can be very helpful as we tend to learn more by watching and by asking questions.

The natural part of breastfeeding is making the milk for the baby, but actually latching baby on to the breast takes practice and watching other women can help.

Practise breastfeeding

You could practise breastfeeding with a doll during pregnancy, or even a good-sized teddy bear or another soft toy. This can help you to feel more comfortable with handling your breasts and working out a position for baby while breastfeeding.

See the How to breastfeed page to find out more.

Breastfeeding education and support classes

If there are breastfeeding or parenting education classes in your area, these can be very helpful. See the Learning about pregnancy, birth and parenting page to find out more.

You could also join a breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League.

Related websites

Breastfeeding NZ – YouTube channel and Facebook page
Breastfeeding information and videos. The YouTube channel contains the Breastfeeding. Naturally. video (as 7 separate chapters); these are also available with captions and in New Zealand Sign Language. The Facebook page is for anyone and everyone who is breastfeeding or interested in breastfeeding. Find out more, share your stories and get support from other members.

Breastfeeding your baby – HealthEd (Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health)
Clear, simple suggestions about the nursing relationship, why breast milk is a baby’s best food, different ways to hold the baby during breastfeeding, how to ensure the baby is on the breast in the best way, frequency of feeds, breast care and further help. Available in English, simplified Chinese, Korean, Māori, Samoan and Tongan. 

La Leche League
The New Zealand website of La Leche League, an international organisation that promotes breastfeeding.

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