Are you thinking about breastfeeding? If so, you might be confused about where to even start. I was.
And even when I did feed, I encountered problems. The details of which are for another day. But, with perseverance and some professional help from a Lactation Consultant (aka Lifesaver/Legend/Fairy Godmother), I got there in the end. And it was worth every single second.
For some, nursing isn't a problem. For others, it takes a little time to get into the groove and some help along the way. And then there's the few that need help with spotting things like Tongue Tie to get them there.
When you're plodding along with your bump, you just don't know which of these boxes you might fall into. Chances are it'll all happen easily and naturally, and in most cases, it really does. But, despite this, everyone – even the natural nursers – need a helping hand with things like knowing how long to feed, whether to feed both sides, when to wind, when to start expressing, and just how much or how little to express.
If there's one piece of advice I could tell my naïve self before I had my first baby (Full disclosure: I was clueless), it's that the best money you will ever spend, hands-down, is on a breastfeeding course with a Lactation Consultant or a one-on-one session once the baby rears its little head.
So, I chatted with leading Lactation Consultant, Nicola O'Byrne – the go-to woman in Dublin, renowned for her brilliant approach and gentle nature – for a little bit of her wisdom for preparing to nurse.
1. Your breasts have been preparing to feed and nurture your baby since the minute you became pregnant. Be confident and learn as much as possible before the baby arrives so that if you run into a problem, you will know what to do and where to get good effective help.
2. There's no need to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. There are tiny glands around your areola that secrete oils and get them ready for the important job ahead.
3. Breastfeeding pillows are not really necessary – I find they can cause more problems than they help. Put lots of pillows and cushions under your arms and let your body support your baby by lying back when breastfeeding.
4. Going to a breastfeeding class is a great idea. You will learn lots and you'll know what to do if you run into trouble like if your baby not latching easily after the birth. A good class will shows lots of videos, have practical demos and lots of chat. In my class, everyone has time to ask questions and can stay behind if there is anything they would prefer not to discuss in the group.
5. What should you buy? Generally, I recommend a sleep nursing bra or a breastfeeding vest for the hospital. These are much more comfortable to wear in bed. Two nursing bras is sufficient for the early weeks.
7. Going to a breastfeeding group before you have your baby is invaluable. Most mothers think they can't go beforehand, but the voluntary groups welcome pregnant mothers with open arms. You get to see lots of babies breastfeeding and chat to the trained counsellors. Sometimes in Ireland, it’s easy to assume that everyone has problems breastfeeding. Going to a group will show you that there are lots of happy mothers and babies out there.