Week 34Estimated reading time: 5 min reads
Now at 34 weeks gestation, your baby’s fingernails are complete. The vernix caseosa, the pale whitish layer which shields your baby’s skin has thickened.
Your baby is gaining significant weight in the next four weeks. At 5½ pounds, possibly adding a half a pound a week, your baby is now about 12 inches long.
Prepare for Breastfeeding
Did you know that your third trimester of pregnancy is the perfect time to begin to prepare for breastfeeding?
The Breastfeeding Center of Charleston “believes the health of the mother and her newborn are intricately intertwined. For this reason, we will be providing comprehensive, coordinated care to the mother and baby as a unit at the Breastfeeding Center of Charleston. Comprehensive care includes exams for the both the mother and baby to ensure optimal health for the breastfeeding duo. Our team will work closely with the mother’s OBGYN and the baby’s primary pediatrician to provide continuity of care for the breastfeeding duo. We will communicate the plan of care that is rendered at each visit back to the primary providers.”
Dr. Bess Milliron MD, FAAP, IBCLC, is Board Certified in Pediatrics, a Fellow of The American Academy of Pediatrics, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and is the Medical Director for the Breastfeeding Center of Charleston. To help insure the optimal breastfeeding experience, Dr. Milliron recommends the following:
8 Ways to Prepare for Successful Breastfeeding
- Look for Breastfeeding Classes in your community. These are usually offered at hospitals or independent breastfeeding centers. Sign up early and bring a support person if possible.
- Find breastfeeding support groups near you:
o Check out a La Leche League meeting. Can locate a group near you on LLLI.org.
o Contact the hospital where you are to deliver.
o Contact local Breastfeeding Centers in the area to see what groups they offer.
- Know what help is available to you in the community if you run into problems. Look into Internationally Certified Breast Feeding Consultants (IBCLC) in the area or Breastfeeding Centers which employ them so that if you run into a problem you know where to go. See if they offer any lactation telephone triage for problems you may run into when you are not available to immediately come in.
- Obtain a breast pump. Talk to your insurance company about your pump – order pump if this is an option to do prior to delivery. If your insurance company does not send the pump until baby is born find out the process that needs to be set in place so you may get it ASAP when you deliver. Ideally you want to have a double electric breast pump. A hand pump is another great option to have along with the double electric for times that you may be traveling or to keep easily accessible. Before the baby comes take apart the breast pump and familiarize yourself with how it works, how to clean it, what size flanges it comes with, and do an initial round of sterilization prior to use.
- Plan a meet and greet with your pediatrician. Make sure they are supportive of breastfeeding and see what parameters they have in place for helping you be successful.
- Schedule a prenatal breastfeeding consult with an IBCLC. This is especially helpful if you have any risk factors for low supply (previous history of low supply, PCOS, hypothyroidism, diabetes, history of breast surgery, expected premature delivery, etc). They can also evaluate you for potential breastfeeding roadblocks such as inverted nipples, flat nipples, hypoplastic breast tissue, etc. Bring your pump to this visit so that the IBCLC can ensure that you are using the correct size flange and that the pump is working well.
- Stock up on books. We recommend “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.”
- Gather breastfeeding supplies. Some essentials are supportive nursing bras without underwire, coconut oil or nipple butter, clothes with easy access for nursing, breast pads, and a supportive breastfeeding pillow.
Top 10 Breastfeeding Supplies
- At least two supportive nursing bras (without underwire) for daytime.
- Nighttime nursing bra.
- Coconut oil or nipple butter to use for nipple soothing.
- Pajamas or tops with easy access to breasts.
- Breast pads (cloth preferred).
- Supportive breastfeeding pillow, (we recommend My Breast Friend.)
- Double electric breast pump.
- Breastfeeding Tracking App.
- Hands-free pumping bra.
- Steam Sterilizer Bags.
13 Tips for Breastfeeding Success in The 4th Trimester
- Get baby skin to skin right after delivery and as often as possible.
- Breastfeed during first hour after birth.
- Ask for help from the lactation consultant and nurses as much as needed in the hospital; have them evaluate your breast pump and make sure flanges are correct size.
- Wake baby for feedings every 2-3 hours. Expect baby to be sleepy first day and awake more on second/third day.
- Ensure that if you are not able to feed baby at the breast that you are stimulating your breasts at least every 3 hours.
- Use breast compressions during feedings to stimulate milk supply and maximize transfer by baby.
- Offer both breasts at a feeding until supply is well established.
- Limit visitors so that you can breastfeed uninterrupted and get to know your baby’s feeding patterns.
- Ask family and friends for help with meals, housework, pets, and other children so you can bond with baby.
- Rest as much as you can.
- Have snacks and water readily available close to where you are usually breastfeeding baby. Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories per day and it’s important to maintain maternal nutrition.
- Watch for milk to come in fully around day four and have cold compresses and ibuprofen on hand to help with engorgement.
- Schedule a visit at a breastfeeding center that has International Board Certified Lactation Consultants post discharge to ensure that you get off to the right foot with breastfeeding.
For more information on breastfeeding, contact your local hospital, breastfeeding center or the Breastfeeding Center of Charleston today.