Baby sleeping
08 Jun

The Best £100 I ever spent

Today is a great day. Today I went to see Clare Byam-Cook, baby feeding specialist extraordinaire. If you type her name into Google, you quickly get the sense that Clare is the Marmite of the breastfeeding world; that is, either you love her or hate her. I fall solidly into the former camp after today’s appointment.

I decided to go straight to Clare and pay £100 for her one-to-one advice instead of going to the NCT or NHS for a number of reasons. First of all, she came incredibly highly recommended by our clients at the studio. Every mother who referred her didn’t just say she was good; each one was a raving fan. When you run your own business, this is how you want people to talk about you. And it’s not because she has nice quotes from Kate Winslet and Kate Beckinsdale on her book. I couldn’t give a crap what they have to say, but you should have heard how our clients talked about Clare. Second, I didn’t want to wait. Wednesday, which is when the next breastfeeding group takes place near my house, seemed like an eternity away. Third, I had received conflicting advice from NHS staff on breastfeeding. I was told at the hospital that my latch was good, which perhaps is true. But I want a great latch. A wonderfully painless latch. And I believed Clare could help with that. Finally, we had one breastfeeding class as part of our NCT course. I loved our NCT course and met some great people, but the breastfeeding class was perhaps my least favourite part of it. Although James and I had to leave a little early that day, the teacher spent the first two hours convincing us that breast is best, when we feel she could have been teaching us proper breastfeeding technique. Surely, the fact that we were all there signified that we were already convinced and wanted to learn the techniques. So, for all of these reasons, James and I decided to shell out £100 and see Clare as soon as possible.

Our appointment with Clare lasted for about an hour. First, she watched how Baby suckles, which pointed her pretty quickly towards a solution to our problem. And if you can believe it, the solution has been sitting next to me on the window ledge of my bedroom this whole time: nipple shields.

As it turns out, Baby has a small mouth. While her latch at the beginning is good, she quickly slips off of my nipple into a less favourable position, thus causing the soreness I’ve been experiencing and the long, frustrated feeds. My left nipple is especially sore because Baby is less comfortable on that side due to her ventouse delivery, which is a fact that our appointments with the cranial osteopath confirm. The nipple shield helps to give my breast a more palatable shape for Baby to latch onto.

Clare also made some minor adjustments to how I was holding the baby. I’d been told to make sure Baby’s nose is at my nipple, to grab my breast, and to lift Baby’s mouth to the nipple while shoving my breast diagonally into her mouth. No more. Baby now gets positioned directly in front of the nipple and our breastfeeding session now looks more like a loving cuddle than a wrestling match.

Now, when I look down at Baby as she is at my breast, she’s like a different person. Instead of taking a few shallow sucks and then taking a huge break, she takes long, deep gulps and can keep it up continuously. It’s too early to say whether her feeding time will be drastically reduced, but logic dictates that it would be. Already, Baby is down for a daytime nap, which hasn’t been easy to accomplish these past couple of weeks because of her constant hunger. And me, I’m getting a chance to write tomorrow’s blog post before tomorrow. Result! I also need to write my next article for Photo Professional, so I feel like Clare’s advice has given me the much-needed gift of time.

I feel like I’ve been let into an exclusive club. Clare doesn’t advertise; she relies only on referral. She doesn’t have her own website and you have to know somebody who has her number to get an appointment. Well, folks, I have her number. If you are having breastfeeding problems and are serious about sorting them out, email me and I’m happy to send you the information you seek. She is based in southwest London and an appointment at her premises is £100 for an hour (she will come to you for a higher fee).

Alternatively, you can start out with her DVD or book (What to Expect When You’re Breastfeeding…and What If You Can’t?), which is how we became acquainted with her and the style of her advice. I would definitely recommend the book, but for advice that is specific to you, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. I wouldn’t have been able to diagnose our problem from just reading the book.

And if anyone who is reading this starts going on about qualifications, please watch The King’s Speech. Enjoy.

I’ve come to think of breastfeeding in the same way as birth. Everyone’s experience is different; you can prepare for it as much as you want, but, at the end of the day, you may need an expert’s advice to deliver the desired result. As low as I was feeling on Saturday, I’m feeling high today. James seems content to let me get on with my breastfeeding instead of threatening to guerrilla pump our baby full of formula. Most importantly, Baby is sleeping, full and happy, next to me and that makes me happy, too.



  1. 08 Jun


    Congratulations. I’m so glad you’ve got some relief with breastfeeding.

  2. 08 Jun


    I’m so pleased for you. It really isn’t easy. I had no help and had to give up with both of my babies. I still feel bad about it :(

  3. 08 Jun


    Superb. Really glad to hear that. :-) I really enjoyed my late night feeding sessions when I would feed our two with expressed milk. The time goes really quickly…

  4. 08 Jun

    Janet Mohapi-Banks

    Julia, I’m so happy for you that you and your baby (it takes 2!) are now happy breastfeeding. Personally I loved every single feed. The closeness I felt to my babies is something I will always remember and treasure. Here’s to many happy feeds. x

  5. 08 Jun

    Claire Pearson

    Horray!! :)

  6. 08 Jun


    Clare was the consultant that I used too. Your words took me back to how she really helped us out when we were struggling with latch/positioning, she’s fantastic and I’m so glad you got the help you wanted to continue breastfeeding. It’s true what they say: happy mumma = happy baby (and vice versa!).

  7. 08 Jun


    So glad you got the advice you needed! I started with nipple shields as well (but hated them) and eventually Alex got bigger and could suck without it.


  8. 09 Jun

    Gemma Matthews

    Glad you got it sorted! Please send her number to me if poss x

  9. 09 Jun

    Caroline Easter

    Takes me back to 6 years ago today (when Harrison was born) and how hard breastfeeding is until you and baby are happy. In a couple of weeks it will be easiest thing ever and those long hard sore days will be a distant memory.

  10. 09 Jun

    Jenny AKA Mrs O

    Hoorah! Well done x

  11. 10 Jun

    Caroline B

    Julia, I read this just in time!!!!!! Was about to start a feed and felt a wave of dread come over me. Feeding at the moment is really painful. I read your blog and dug out the nipple shields, which I had completely forgotten about. The shields have made a world of difference! So happy!!

  12. 17 Jun

    Vanessa Mason

    Nice blog Julia, congratulations on the arrival of your new attachement! Thinking of you. Scott is now 10 months old, he is growing up very fast. Would love to meet up soon! Hugs and kisses, xo Vanessa

  13. 18 Jun

    Lindsay Chatwin

    Hi Julia! First, Congrats to you and James on Baby’s arrival! Very happy you got the breast feeding thing down too. Second, I went to a class that Clare taught the other day and absolutely loved her! I had read your post before hand and got really excited to see her. She’s definitely top of my list if I encounter a problem when my little one decides to appear. Best wishes Lindsay x

  14. 12 Oct

    Mary Bobroff

    Hi Julia
    Really enjoying your blog, just had my first baby and at breaking point with breastfeeding. Just watched Clare’s video and read her book but would give my left arm for a consultation.Would very much appreciate you forwarding me her details,
    thanks so much

  15. 28 Sep


    Hi Julia,
    Your blog has been so good to read. Great to know other people have experienced the same thing, yet have come through the other side! Please would you be able to send me Clare’s number? I would be so grateful.

    I have been battling for 8 weeks to breastfeed my baby and despite trying everything I can and getting all the help I can I am still in pain all the time and dread feeding. I desperately want it to work!

    Thanks so much

  16. 12 Feb


    Hi Julia, thanks so much for sharing your experience (and as a new mother who enjoyed breastfeeding but now struggling getting the little one to latch properly – for giving me a bit of hope that it is possible). have been working with a number of midwives but still don’t seem to be able to make it work and increasingly frustrating the little one.

    Would be forever grateful if you could please forward me Clare’s contact details?

    excited to reach toddlerhood – albeit still a couple years out – keep up the great reads.

    many thanks,

  17. 12 Feb

    Julia from ICAWatermelon


    I’ve just sent you an email.


  18. 09 Dec


    Glad to hear Clare was able to help you. I have her DVD and have found that her method of latching on is the only one that seems to work for me despite it being a completely different method than that suggested by NHS midwives. I still have some specific issues I would like her advice on an would be grateful if you could send me her contact details. Many thanks

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