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I wish I had read more books on breastfeeding
before my first baby was born. In my antenatal classes I was led to
believe that breastfeeding would come naturally, but as it happened, I found
breastfeeding incredibly difficult. I couldn't latch my first baby on,
and when I finally did, I ended up with incredibly sore nipples and mastitis,
and had to give up completely at five weeks. During those five weeks, I read
three really excellent books and regretted not finding them sooner.
Before my second baby was born, I re-read these books, and am still
breastfeeding her at 16+ weeks. I will review each of them below.
During the first five weeks of my first baby's life, I read What to Expect When You're Breastfeeding by Clare Byam Cook on the recommendation of a friend. It gives all sorts of advice, from how to sit, how much you should be feeding in the early days and tips on dealing with sore nipples and mastitis. She agrees that breast is best but she stresses that the most important thing is that your baby is fed - whether by the breast or bottle - and you, the mother, should feel comfortable with whatever you choose to do. I loved this book because it helped me to realise that I wasn't the only woman in the world having difficulties. I just wish I had discovered it before.
With both of my baby's I have been immensely grateful to Gina Ford's The New Contented Little Baby Book. People criticise this book for the rigid routines, but I have found them extremely useful to give me a vague idea of when feeds and sleep should happen. I have then worked out my own routines to fit around the rest of my family and my work as a teacher. One thing I hate, due to my sore nipples, is to latch my baby on to my boob only for her to use me as a dummy to fall asleep, so it is vital for me to know when she is tired and when she is hungry. Gina Ford also offers good advice on establishing breastfeeding in the early days, and suggests feeding for five minutes on each side on day 1 and then building up a few minutes each day to avoid sore nipples. This has really worked for me. I have also followed her advice on lengths of feeds on each boob and am sure that is one of the reasons why I managed to breastfeed for four months. She offers good advice on fitting pumping into your routine too, in order to boost your milk supply in advance of a growth spurt.
Any kind of routine has kept me sane, and I found the feed-play-sleep idea in The Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer by Melinda Blau and Tracy Hogg extremely useful in the early weeks. It helped me to avoid being used as a dummy when my baby needed to sleep rather than feed, and I knew when I could leave the house safely!
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