I feel pretty lucky to not have many regrets as a mother. However I have learned some lessons along the way! Here's five things I'd do differently if I were just starting to breastfeed.
1) Laid-back breastfeeding
I was exposed to laid-back breastfeeding while pregnant, but despite my best efforts I just couldn't figure out how to do it. This is one of those techniques that works best if it's done from the start! You rest comfortably, about halfway between laying down and sitting up, and place the newborn on your belly, skin to skin. Then you patiently wait for baby to latch itself. It might take up to an hour, but baby will eventually start to "crawl" up your chest and look for the breast with his hands and mouth.
My biggest mistake with trying this technique was always attempting it in the bed. It's really hard to comfortably half-lay half-sit in a bed, unless you have a bunch of pillows. It's a lot easier to first try it on the sofa or in a recliner! Here's an article from Nancy Mohrbacher who is an expert on laid back breastfeeding.
2) Don't restrict baby's hands
It is very tempting to hold those flailing little limbs out of the way when you breastfeed. But hands are actually important to breastfeeding! So unswaddle that baby and take the scratch mitts off them before breastfeeding. If you practice laid-back breastfeeding like above, then you shouldn't have wee arms in the way.
3) Set up a consultation with a lactation consultant a few days after birth.
The first couple days after the birth are an absolute whirlwind! I knew I needed help with breastfeeding, because it was hurting, and breastfeeding should not hurt. But it is so hard to find time to make a phone call! So before the birth, set up to have a designated family member call and make the appointment for you. Knowing that you'll have some help in a few days can make all the difference.
4) More resources planned out before the birth
I remember getting frustrated and crying in rage while breastfeeding one day. I was trying to feed through some extreme pain, search YouTube videos on how to breastfeed, and my husband was getting annoyed because the eggs he cooked for me were getting cold. It was just too much!
Have a folder in your web browser labeled breastfeeding, and fill it with helpful links. Some text based and some video based. If you need help finding articles, set up a prenatal visit with a lactation consultant.
5) Talk to your partner about how they can help, before having the baby.
My poor husband - he just wanted to help. But I was a crying pile of hormones, and didn't know how to help myself, much less how he could help! If I were to have another child, I'd definitely talk this over with him during the last weeks of pregnancy, so he'd have a better idea of what to do.
How can they help? They can get the bookmarks mentioned in #4 up on the computer for you to look through when breastfeeding isn't going well. They can babywear to give you some breaks to work through your feelings. They can look at you with the same wonder they reserve for the baby. They can give lots of hugs and reassurance and remind you of why you chose to breastfeed.