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Breastfeeding in North London - where to get breastfeeding support (and why you might need it). We share our experience.

Breastfeeding isn't always easy. When I had my first child, I had problems I had never anticipated and wasn't prepared for in any way. Luckily I found that there is wonderful support available in North London and beyond and I want to share that with other mums so they can have as easy a start as possible and get to enjoy the very special relationship that it can be when it goes well.....



When I was pregnant for the first time, I spent a lot of time making sure my bag was ready for hospital. I spent a lot of time buying things for the baby, washing things for the baby, making her room as nice as I could and quite a lot of time preparing for the birth.

I spent absolutely no time at all preparing to breastfeed, unless you count sitting at the back of a very hot workshop at the hospital and leaving after ten minutes because I thought it was pointless to learn about something that was so obviously easy and natural....

This turned out to be an error when a few weeks later I couldn't seem to get my lovely newborn to latch on at all despite the pushings and proddings of many (not very gentle) midwives.The fact that breastfeeding can be difficult for some came as a huge surprise to me. I know it isn't for everybody but it really was for me and I was totally unprepared, mortified and sad as well as being massively hormonal anyway. I felt like a failure at the one thing I was supposed to be able to do - feed my baby.

Rushed health professionals had little time to help me with my problem, and little expertise even when they did. The main advice of the hospital at the time was to give my baby a bottle, which I really didn't want to do. I was shocked at how different the way the staff behaved was to the professed pro-breastfeeding policy of the hospital as a whole. I felt like they wanted me to just shut up and give her a bottle, which is nothing like Department of Health policy! I know I am not alone in this and that lots of people have found the pro-breastfeeding messages of the Government do not translate into what actually happens on the ground and this is very sad.

Through a combination of luck, research and help from Mumsnet and other sites, and eventually hands on support from some wonderful professionals, I managed to muddle on through and breastfeed my baby (although not for as long as I would have liked because of our bad start). I wanted to share the help I found with other North London Mums so that if you find yourself in this situation, you will know where to turn to.

I most particularly want to do this because second time around, my breastfeeding relationship with my baby has been uncomplicated and blissful and I am sure that this is in part due to how relaxed I was because I knew help was on hand if I were to need it. I would like everyone to have that experience and not the one I had first time so am sharing with you the resources I have found helpful. 


What should you do to prepare before you have the baby

If you are doing an NCT class, they will have one week which focuses on breastfeeding. Although it is hard to think beyond the birth, do try to ask questions about where you can get help if you need it in your local area. The NCT is a wonderful organisation and most areas have some breastfeeding support or can point you in the direction of where to get it.

At 28 weeks your midwife should give you a free copy of the DVD From Bump to Breastfeeding,  made by the charity Best Beginnings. If you don't get one, you can order one for free here. It is useful and easy to follow.

Make sure that you identify one or two friends who breastfeed and who you can call on for advice if you run into any problems. They will support you if health professionals are not pro-breastfeeding and understand what you are going through in the first few weeks

Read (or at least buy) a good book about breastfeeding like The Food Of Love, La Leche League's Womanly Art or Best Feeding . These books can be very useful for consulting with after baby is born as well as helping you to prepare.

Buy a good breastfeeding pillow, some lansinoh or kamillosan. If you are unsure about public feeding you could invest in a cover - although it is easy to feed discretely without one too. Bundle O Joy has this really great breastfeeding bundle that gives you all these things in one handy package.  

Have a quick scan of the breastfeeding boards on Mumsnet or Netmums as this will just give you some idea of the kind of things that might arise so you will be prepared e.g. I knew from Mumsnet that it is not great to give a bottle in the first few days and so asked the staff for a cup I could express into and feed the baby from, this meant that I was able to get the baby to latch on once at home. I wouldn't have known this otherwise.

Get some great boxsets in that you will enjoy watching. You will be sitting on the sofa feeding a lot in the first few weeks. I still have a dent in mine....

Get lots of chocolate and cakes in. Trust me, you will need them. 


Where should you go if you need help after the birth

Hopefully for most people, doing the things outlined above should ensure that everything runs smoothly. If you do need some extra help however, we hope you will find these ideas helpful. 


Hands-on Support (literally!)


NHS/PCTs should provide some support. Links to these services are below:

This is where to get breastfeeding support in Camden
This is where to get breastfeeding support in Barnet
This is where to get breastfeeding support in Haringey
This is where to get breastfeeding support in Hackney
We couldn't find a round up of where to get breastfeeding support in Brent so please let us know if you have a useful link!

Your local Children's Centre is also a good place to start as many have drop in breastfeeding support groups staffed by peer supporters or lactation consultants. Our twitter followers particularly recommended groups and advisers at Willesden Centre for Health and Care, Noel Park N22, Stonecroft N8, Rokesly N8, Highbury Grange N5, Lower Edmonton N9.

We personally got good support from the drop in groups at Barnet Hospital and Coppetts Wood Children's Centre, N10.

The NCT has breastfeeding counsellors in some areas. The Haringey counsellor Sally Wood was highly recommended to us by our twitter followers.  NCT also has a helpline.

You can also find a private lactation consultant if you feel you need more personal support and/or are finding it hard to get out of the house for any reason. These are all fully qualified lactation consultants who for a fee (usually somewhere around £50-£75) will come to your home and give you time and attention to make sure you are well set up for breastfeeding. You can find some local ones listed here. We (and some of our twitter followers too) highly recommend Ruth Tamir. Other recommendations from our twitter followers for lactation consultants who work in North London are Sarah Brown and Pippa Faulkes

There are also breastfeeding counsellors who were recommended to us  - Jenny Alexander who works in Haringey and Adele Stowe Lindner.

Breastfeeding Support Team - a group of private lactation consultants who run a clinic and home visits in Queens Park, St Johns Wood, Belsize Park and Hampstead. 

Useful Websites

Kelly Mom is a very American site, but if you can get past that, it has a wealth of information available on it.

Express Yourself Mums sells a wide range of products to help with breastfeeding and is simple and easy to use.

Helplines

NCT- 0300 330 0771 (7 days a week, 8am-10pm)

Breastfeeing Network - 0300 100 0210 (9.30am-9.30pm every day)

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers -  08444 122949 (9.30am-10.30pm)

La Leche League - 0845 120 2918

Above all, be prepared for the first few weeks to be fairly demanding. Babies feed A LOT at the beginning and this is normal and very rarely a sign that you don't have enough milk or anything like that. It is normal to feel worried about it but make sure they are gaining weight and as long as they are (and any other problem ruled out) don't worry - sit back, watch boxsets and eat lots of lovely food. You are doing great.

Good luck! You can always message us at info@northlondonmums.com if this list doesn't cover where you live, and we will do our best to find support in your local area.


Did you get really good help anywhere else that we should mention? Did you get good advice you'd like to share? Can you recommend any good books?


Did you have a bad experience? We'd really like to hear your breastfeeding stories as we think it all helps to educate other women and help those who have problems to know they are not alone. Thanks for commenting!

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