When I was pregnant, I decided I wanted to breastfeed my baby. Looking back, I'm not sure why I made that decision or whether it was even a decision at all. It simply felt like the natural progression of things. After all, breasts are designed to produce milk for our babies, so breastfeeding is what I will do.
I didn't dwell on feeding my baby during pregnancy, in fact my preparation was to read a small 'how to breastfeed' booklet provided by my local hospital and I attended a brief feeding information session, thinking that was all the knowledge I needed. I remember sitting around a boardroom table somewhere whilst a woman spoke at us for an hour or so but what she said, I can't remember.
Bleary-eyed me after birth trying to get to grips with breastfeeding
However, as any parent knows, real-life experiences often differ from our expectations. Fast forward to a few hours after giving birth, and it became apparent that I had a lot to learn. The initial feeds felt far more complicated than the straightforward 'your baby will cry, and you feed them' approach I had envisioned. While I eventually succeeded in exclusively breastfeeding for six months, (stopping only because I needed to return to taking non-breastfeeding-compatible medication) I must admit it was a very challenging journey.
The Early Struggles
Whether it was the impact of my childbirth experience or the care I received at the time, those initial feeds were far from the idyllic image I had imagined. We did eventually find our rhythm, but all I remember looking back. was my perseverance and sheer determination at wanting breastfeeding to work and that was my unwavering goal.
The Importance of Knowledge and Support
In hindsight, I wish I had known then what I know now about breastfeeding. Understanding concepts such as breastfeeding hormones, milk production, feeding patterns, different feeding positions, and recognising hunger cues are essential for new mums, and I was unaware of these crucial aspects.
Moreover, I lacked information on where to seek support. I vividly remember one medical professional suggesting I consider formula feeding instead of worrying about breastfeeding because "not many people in my area breastfeed." It was disheartening to hear such advice at a time when I needed guidance and encouragement the most. I just wanted someone to tell me that what I was doing looked pretty good.
A New Journey Begins
Fast forward to 2023, and I'm on an entirely different path. I am now a trainee breastfeeding counsellor with the NCT (National Childbirth Trust). Two decades after my own breastfeeding journey began, I am learning how to support mothers postnatally with their breastfeeding experiences. Armed with knowledge and training, I am eager to become that person a new mum can turn too if they are looking for advice or just someone to talk to about their feeding experiences.
Supporting Mums in a Modern World
To bridge the gap and offer new mothers the information and support they need, I have decided to launch an online breastfeeding information workshop called "Boost your Breastfeeding Skills."
This workshop is packed with evidence-based information about breastfeeding, delivered in a fun and informative manner and is perfect if you have decided you want to breastfeed or if you are looking for more information antenatally to help you make your decision.
The workshop doesn't just stop at information; it includes relaxation tracks for pregnancy, positive breastfeeding affirmations and more and, crucially, directs participants to local support organisations.
From being an inexperienced mum struggling with breastfeeding to becoming a trainee breastfeeding counsellor, I've come a long way. If you're expecting or already a new parent, I invite you to join me from the comfort of your home for the "Boost your Breastfeeding Skills" workshop. Together, we can ensure that your breastfeeding journey starts off on the right foot, and you have the support you need to navigate the beautiful but sometimes challenging world of breastfeeding.
To find out more about the workshop, click here: Boost Your Breastfeeding Skills
If you are a mum looking for feeding support (breastfeeding or formula feeding) then the NCT Feeding line is there for you and is open from 8am - 12midnight, 365 days a year.
Based in West Lothian, I have been supporting expectant parents prepare for birth and beyond since 2007. Providing in person and online antenatal courses and breastfeeding workshops.