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.