Set your short- and long-term goals for breastfeeding before baby arrives.
You may have heard the recommendation—feed your baby only breast milk for the first six months. And continue breastfeeding your baby for at least a year. Breastfeeding is a great choice, but six months or a year may feel like a long time, especially in the early weeks. Instead of focusing on the long-term, set realistic short-term goals.
Smaller steps will help you take breastfeeding day-by-day and make you feel good about the little, yet important, successes. It will help you celebrate the many milestones between your baby's birth and first birthday. As you continue to practice, breastfeeding will get easier.
Short-term goals might include visiting a lactation consultant or WIC breastfeeding expert to help you get a good latch, making it through the first growth spurt, or breastfeeding until the season changes. For ideas, look at our checklist for every stage of your breastfeeding journey. Then print out the customizable Breastfeeding Goals Worksheet and fill out your personal goals. Once you've reached the first goal, set a new one!
Small Steps to Reach Your Breastfeeding Goals
Before your baby arrives:
- Take a WIC breastfeeding class.
- Talk to your partner and family about breastfeeding.
- Get any supplies you may need for breastfeeding.
- Figure out who you can call when you face a challenge. WIC breastfeeding staff, a lactation consultant, or a family member can help.
- Create a birth plan that supports your desire to breastfeed.
- Talk to your employer about your plans to breastfeed, and make a plan that will allow you to pump at work.
At the hospital or birthing center:
- Feed your baby as soon as possible after delivery.
- Ask the staff for help if you need it to get you and your baby off to a good start.
First days and weeks at home:
- Relax! Find a place where you can breastfeed comfortably.
- Try out different positions for breastfeeding.
- Learn your baby's hunger cues.
- Reach out for help when you hit a bump in the road, like sore nipples, plugged ducts, supply concerns, and more. Your local WIC agency staff can help!
- Avoid using pacifiers or other artificial nipples until breastfeeding is going well, which is usually after the first month.
One month to six weeks in:
- Celebrate your achievements! Look at how your baby has grown, thanks to your hard work.
- Start pumping and storing milk. This is good practice for returning to work, too.
Going back to work:
- Continue talking with your employer about your needs and your schedule. You'll want to pump during the times when you would normally feed your baby at home.
- Talk to your child care provider, even if it's a family member, about how to feed your baby so that you can continue meeting your breastfeeding goals.
- Breastfeed your baby before you leave for work or at the child care drop-off location.
- If possible, stop by your baby's child care provider during one of your breaks to breastfeed.
- Make time for a feeding when you pick up your baby at the end of the day. It can be a nice time after being apart.
Six months and beyond:
- Start introducing solid foods.
- Check in on how you're doing. Can you start setting longer-term goals?
Now is a great time to start. Print out the Breastfeeding Goals Worksheet and work with your partner or other family members to develop your personal breastfeeding goals. Together, you can come up with a plan that works for you.
If you need help setting your breastfeeding goals, talk to WIC breastfeeding staff. They are here to help you every step of your breastfeeding journey.