So I was all set to include some excited-sounding instructions that y’all go squeeze your boobs this week, in order to witness the crazy whoa-ness that is leaking colostrum, but then I decided to double-check the statistics on that one. And I’m glad I did. Turns out some of y’all have probably been able to perform that trick since your 12th week. And some don’t even have to squeeze — you just LEAK. And others won’t see a drop of breastmilk until some point after giving birth.
And you’re all totally normal. Last time I fretted that the fairly subtle changes in my boob size were a terrible harbinger of breastfeeding failure. And then when I started noticing the leaking watery colostrum (the very earliest fluid that your breasts produce for your baby’s first few days before your “real” calorie-rich milk comes in) at some point in the early third trimester, I worried that it was a sign that my body was preparing to give birth prematurely.
(My LANDS, was there anything I didn’t worry about last time?)
I didn’t give birth early, but I did have an uphill struggle with breastfeeding, but it was nothing I could have predicted based on my pregnancy boob observations. Colostrum or no, dramatic growth or very little at all, I don’t think anyone can really predict who is going to effortlessly pop the baby on the boob from day one and who is going to struggle and need help. (Although women who have had breast surgery — augmentation, reduction, or other — and those with PCOS often have more troubles than other women, and may need extra helpful support in the early weeks.)
Interview a Lactation Consultant
That’s why I encourage you to add “lactation consultant” to your list of Third Trimester Folks to Interview.
By now you should have your OB or midwife set (although, frankly, it’s NEVER too late to switch practices or change your mind if you don’t like how you’re being treated or if other circumstances change). If you plan to use a doula (either for birth or postpartum), you should start meeting and interviewing candidates now. (Check out DONA International for more information and a directory.)
Interview a Pediatrician
You’ll also need to start looking for a pediatrician, if you don’t have one in mind already. Most hospitals won’t discharge you unless you have your first Well Baby visit scheduled, so you’ll want to have your practice chosen and the number programmed into your cell phone to call once the baby is born. I found the whole pediatrician thing to be Very Stressful (surprise!), especially since all the local practices that got the best word-of-mouth and recommendations from my friends did not accept our insurance. We ended up making our choice after attending several orientations/New Parents Nights that a few local practices offered. We were able to meet doctors and tour the offices, ask questions and take home lots of information about the practice (hours, how emergencies are handled, policies on vaccines, etc.)
We also ended up selecting our pediatrician because the practice offered…ta-da…two full-time lactation consultants on staff who were available to see all newborn patients. They also offered breast pump rentals and other breastfeeding supplies at cost. Both LCs were available by phone round-the-clock for all breastfeeding mothers, with no answering service or cell phone billing hoops to jump through. I was sold.
Picking the Right Lactation Consultant for You
It turned out, in the end, that I loved ONE of the lactation consultants, but had a lot of problems with the other. Bad bedside manner, mostly, and a tendency to send mixed messages (YOUR BABY IS STARVING WE MUST GIVE HIM FORMULA FAILURE TO THRIVE OMG one visit, and WE MUST GET YOUR BABY OFF THAT EVIL FORMULA GARBAGE RIGHT NOW OMG the next). So if I could do it all over again, I would have insisted on meeting BOTH lactation consultants at the practice, and then made my appointments with the kinder, less-militant woman whose personality was a little more up my tender, postpartum alley.