y baby was born as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were beginning to ease in the UK. It has been a strange time where health services have not been running as usual, and access to NHS breastfeeding resources has been scarce.
I was privileged enough to be able to afford the £360 for NCT zoom classes, so I had the basics. Once my baby was born midwives could not spare enough time to support breastfeeding during my hospital stay, and there were no peer support programs running. Due to this, I have had to rely on the people around me far more than usual!
In the early days rather than offering to take my baby off my hands (which I have been wary of because of COVID anyway!), I found it most helpful for friends and family that have been able to visit to cook meals, help around the house or just bring me a cup of tea!
This freed up all my time to connect with my baby with lots of naps and skin to skin. It gave us the space to learn how to breastfeed.
I found it most helpful for friends and family that have been able to visit to cook meals, help around the house or just bring me a cup of tea!
Advice has changed a lot since I was a baby, so I’ve found it useful to be clear with friends and family exactly how I intend to feed and how they can help.
Some of my older relatives have been confused that we’re not training our baby into a sleeping routine, or that we’re “spoiling” him by feeding frequently. The most recent evidence-based advice supported by WHO and UNICEF recommends feeding on demand, which means watching for feeding cues and feeding baby as often as they want day and night. I’ve had to explain that babies are supposed to wake through the night, and night-time milk is packed with tryptophan that builds babies’ brains. It’s also completely natural for my baby to cluster feed all evening, it’s just his way of helping boost my milk supply!
It can be hard for dads to know how to best support a breastfeeding mum. I’ve found sometimes words of encouragement can make all the difference! My husband Chris makes me feel supported each day by bringing breakfast in bed to share while we have a big morning feed. Long evening cluster feeds can be relentless, so Chris will take our baby out for a short walk in the sling between feeds giving them time to connect and giving me some quiet time to myself!
Having a lactation consultant
Having a lactation consultant for support has really helped my breastfeeding journey. During pregnancy I suffered from wrist and hand pain and a simple suggestion from a lactation consultant to try laid back breastfeeding helped my baby latch better and made everything more comfortable. When support wasn’t available in the hospital I was able to video call my lactation consultant for help.
Having a lactation consultant for support has really helped my breastfeeding journey.
I think it’s so important to have professional help available for new monthers whether it is a midwife, NHS infant feeding specialist or private lactation consultant — the difference between a painful experience and a comfortable one can be in small adjustments to latch or position, and it’s important have issues like tongue and lip tie ruled out early on. Breastfeeding should not hurt, and with this support I have never experienced pain or discomfort.
To build your support network there are local groups such as the NCT or La Leche League. I’ve been joining a virtual NCT breastfeeding cafe each week to share experiences with other women and get advice from breastfeeding professionals. It has been so hard not be able to meet other mums in person, but I hope we will be able to soon!
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