What do I wish someone had told me before my 1st baby arrived?

I wish someone had told me how amazing I would feel holding my baby skin to skin after birth.

I wish someone had told me that my baby had innate reflexes that helped him to find the breast after he was born.

I wish someone had told me that my son would want to be with me, close enough to hear my heart beat, day and night.

I wish someone had told me that babies don’t feel hunger before they are born. That in the womb they are always fed.

I wish someone had told me that newborn babies have teeny tiny tummies that empty quickly.

I wish someone had told me that babies don’t feed to a schedule. Just like us they have hungry days, when they can’t stop eating.

I wish someone had told me that if I feel relaxed it helps my baby to relax and that this is the wonder of oxytocin.

I wish someone had told me to listen to my inner voice. To put down the books and hold my baby, That the answers were all inside my mothering soul.

I wish someone had told me to slow down. To forget the visitors and outings. To envelop myself in the 1st weeks with my baby, in a quiet and calm environment.

I wish someone had told me that breastfeeding is often hard in the beginning but that it gets easier and easier as time goes on.

There is a saying that goes “nothing can fully prepare you for life with a baby”.

As a paediatric nurse with years of nannying experience I thought I knew it all when I was expecting my first baby. And yes, I knew how to change a nappy and how to burp a baby. How to rock them to sleep or settle them into cot. But none of that stuff prepared me for the intense love and strength I felt as a mother. Nothing prepared me for all the confusion or questions I had about feeding my baby either. Despite having worked with many many breastfeeding women on the children’s wards, Once I was doing it myself it seemed a lot more complicated.

Suddenly, everything I had read in the books or learnt in antenatal classes didn’t seem to apply to my little boy. He was own his own, ever-changing schedule,  keeping me guessing minute to minute. I followed his lead and it seemed to work, but not one thing I had read had prepared me for this. Neither had it prepared me for the overwhelming feeling I had to get everything just right for him. I started to realise that the books I had been reading hadn’t talked realistically about what babies want or need. They hadn’t talked about how babies are happiest when they lead the way with breastfeeding, and that when they do, that milk supply sorts it self out. They hadn’t taught me that every baby is different.  I had been reading the wrong books!!

Finding a class that works

Although breastfeeding classes or workshops can’t prepare you for everything, they can help you to think beyond the birth and what having a newborn might be like. They can give you an insight into those early weeks and give you confidence before heading into  this new chapter of your life.

One of the best things about going to a local breastfeeding class is meeting other soon-to-be parents. Starting up a support network of friends who are going through the same as you when you have a baby is invaluable. My “baby friends” are still the people I see the most, even though our first born babies have all just turned 10. There’s something about going through those early months on maternity leave that creates a bond like nothing else.

Classes often give you a chance to meet your local breastfeeding support professionals or peer supporters too. Knowing where to go for help before your baby comes takes away some of the fear of turning up at a baby group or clinic if you’re having issues. A good teacher will give you all the information for your local support groups so that you can visit whilst you’re still pregnant. An understading teacher will show you which are the most helpful books to read!

So now you know why I created my own breastfeeding courses

Since becoming a lactation consultant I have become even more aware that pregnancy is a vital time to show parents-to-be the way. When I meet families who have had some breastfeeding education before their baby arrives it really shows. They are more confident, they know what to expect from their baby, they tend to be more relaxed. Everything is less of a shock.

I want to offer this guidance to all pregnant couples. Whether it is your first baby or if you’ve tried to breastfeed before and it hasn’t worked out, my courses will set you on your way with a new outlook. With confidence, calmness and a spring in your step. All ready to meet your perfect little one.

Anna runs face to face  breastfeeding classes in Kent, UK. Book at www.mammalia.co.uk/classes

For breastfeeding education from the comfort of your own home take a look at www.thebreastfeedingschool.com Anna has teamed up with hypnobirthing teacher and Breastfeeding Counsellor Ray Dodd to create an antenatal breastfeeding course with a difference.