Bra shopping when pregnant or breastfeeding

underwear-627302_1920Buying bras when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding can be a bit of a nightmare. What kind. What size. The cost.

Nursing bras are on many “must get” lists for shopping before baby arrives, but should they be? The problem with that is that no one really knows how much your boobs will change after baby arrives – or while you’re pregnant. It’s a bit of guesswork, a bit of averaging (and, actually, how many of us are “average” at anything?). Some women report very small changes, others are outgrowing their pre-pregnancy bras by the time they’re 6 weeks pregnant!


When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, a well fitting bra is important. A bra that is too tight on the cup can cause all sorts of issues and a bra that tries to support but doesn’t can cause shoulder and back pain (a common issue anyway amongst many new parents, especially first-time parents, as they adjust to carrying and holding baby).

Sadly, it can be hard to get fitted well in high street stores. A common problem is that the store doesn’t have a wide range of chest and cup sizes in stock and women are measured as having a larger chest size (and so correspondingly smaller cup size) than they really need.

When you’re pregnant, frequently checking your bra fits is key. Unless you’re planning on getting used to NOT wearing structured and fitted bras, then your best bet is to buy a couple of not-too-expensive bras and being prepared to change them frequently. Some do change to non-structured bras – Molke bras get rave reviews, for example.

When you’re breastfeeding, check your size frequently too. If you’re measuring milky boobs, remember that, especially in the early weeks, their size will change depending on whether your boobs are full or not, and everyone’s milk storage capacity (which has naff all to do with milk supply as boobs are factories not warehouses!) is different. Measuring when full can help adjust for this.

In terms of what size you need, these are both great:

Boob or Bust size calculator

Bravissimo’s Best Fit Guide

Some NCT groups offer a bra-fitting service. You can always use the above guides to judge whether a shop is doing a good job of measuring you or not.

Buying nursing bras when pregnant

My suggestion on what (fitted) nursing bra to buy when pregnant is simple. Don’t. Honestly, you have no clue whether you’ll go up one cup size or more. It’s likely to be a waste of money.

Soft cup bras can be more accommodating of slight changes, but not significant changes. Stretchy (often called ‘night’) bras are far more accommodating. I’d suggest getting some of these for the early days with a baby. They make life easy if you’re starting to breastfeed when, to be frank, your boobs are going to be out a lot, and will tide you over till you can measure up and get something else.

Underwired bras

You might read elsewhere that you shouldn’t wear underwired bras when pregnant or breastfeeding. The problem is that, if the bra is not well-fitting, the underwire can dig in, causing issues with changing or milky boobs.

They key phrase here is “if not well-fitting”! If your bra fits well, then there is no reason you can’t wear an underwired bra (but see above for the issues in keeping your bras well fitting!).

As a general rule, most people find that avoiding underwire for day-to-day in pregnancy, and then waiting until your milk supply is established, work well. There are then some really nice and comfortable underwired nursing bras on the market (Figleaves have consistently been the best source for underwired nursing bras in my experience).

An alternative for some

Of course you might decide to ditch bras all together. If so, Sophie Messager has a great intro here.

Where to buy online

Top 5 Parenting Hacks

Rainbow Cheeky Wipes

My top 5 hacks, tips and products to make your life as a parent of wee ones a little bit easier…

No. 1: Peanut butter

Okay, not so good if you hate PB or have PB allergies in the house, but if not, then peanut butter (preferably without added sugars or unsustainable palm oil) can be a temper saver for rushed-off-your-feet parents. Grab a spoonful straight from the jar in the morning when you don’t have time for YOUR breakfast, and the low GI, cheap alternative to cereal bars and the like will keep you going for hours without crashing blood sugar.

No. 2: Cheeky Wipes/Reusable cloth wipes

Rainbow Cheeky Wipes disposable wipes, these are the best thing going for cleaning mucky bums! In our house, we have had 2 sets, one for bums on the changing table and one for sticky hands and faces in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

They work better, cost less in the long run (count up how much you spend each year on wipes then think you could be using them for 2-3 years PER CHILD even without considering that even 6 year olds get sticky hands) and are way better for the environment – when you’re finally finished with them, either gift them on to another parent or send them (washed and dry) to your local charity shop marked as rags for recycling.

I’m a fan of Cheeky Wipes as they make using reusable wipes oh so easy with their kits and tubs, but you could save more money by going DIY – cut up 10cm squares of fleece or towelling can work and a large Tupperware-type tub will work to keep them in. Our dirty ones usually go in a nappy bucket anyway.

No.3: Toy tub

The idea is that this is a tub that is NOT the ‘proper’ home for any (or many) toys. You want space in it! Have one in the bedroom, one in the lounge (or wherever your kids play most) and if you have company coming round or you just want to be able to ignore the mess in the evening, whizz round and throw all loose toys into the tub.

The key with this is being strict with yourself. If the toys stay there for days, you’ll have no where to put the next lot! You have to put them away properly at some point. Any tub or basket will do, as long as it’s not too big and not too small. Handles do help though, both when filling it up and emptying later. I use small tubtrugs, which can be carried in one hand (if not too full).

No. 4: Dummy ‘clips’

dummy-clipsIf you’re using a dummy (pacifier to the Americans!) with your baby, then you’ll know the frustration of the frequently dropped dummy/pacifier. Especially if you’re out and about and babywearing. And the specially made clips can get expensive when you need one everywhere you go.

You can of course make your own dummy clips if you’re at all crafty, but why bother if you have a scarf? Any old grown up scarf with tassels or thin enough to knot a corner does the trick. Tie some tassels to the dummy, wrap the scarf around YOUR neck and go. Plus point is staying warm too!

Any stretchy headband also works on carseat straps – see photo – or baby carrier hood straps.

As tassels are not generally safe for babies to eat/tie round their fingers, only do this with supervision!

No. 5: Wear again tub

Wear again clothes tubOnce you get past the baby stage of going through multiple outfits a day, you’ll eventually get to the point where your kids can wear clothes again on another day. Especially true if you end up with a child who thinks wardrobe changes are required for every activity! To avoid washing not-really-dirty clothes, putting back not-quite-clean clothes or having them all round the room, give your kids a ‘wear again tub’ in their bedroom.

Any robust tub or basket will do. We use a small tubtrug again. It’s such a simple thing, but it can make such a difference!

So that’s my top 5! Do you have parenting hacks to share?

Thanks to all the mamas who shared their own tricks and helped me with these and this article!

How My Fee Is Made Up (part 2)

I did a very similar post to this over a year ago, when I was still being mentored through Doula UK, so this is an update for where I am now….

Being a birthworker is a real calling. None of us in this or related professions are in it for the money. We love what we do, it’s a complete honour to walk with the families I work with and see their journeys into parenthood. I truly believe that there should be a doula for every woman and family that could benefit from one. If you genuinely cannot pay my fees, then talk to me. We will work something out.

But I also value what I give to my clients. And I want being a birth doula to be sustainable for me, not just an expensive hobby I am passionate about, so I can carry on supporting families and, hopefully(!), making a positive difference to their journeys. I find it incredibly sad when I read of doulas who have stopped doulaing because it was simply not financially viable for them and they, and their families, had bills that needed paying. The doula community loses out when that happens, as do the local families who need a doula.

I want you to feel confident that the fee I charge is fair and appropriate, and you receive a high level of expertise and support.  

Here are a few things that make up a doula’s fee:

  • Experience. In doulaing terms, I’m still very much on a steep learning curve, but I’m far from being a complete newbie anymore. I also bring other experiences to my doulaing, from breastfeeding support, mothering and past careers. Do ask me about my experience as a doula and I will be totally honest with where I am at in my doula journey.
  • Ongoing Training:  I love learning, love information and love finding out more about how to better support my clients. And maintaining my Continuing Personal/Professional Development is a requirement of Doula UK membership. I regularly attend continuing education trainings to expand my skills and keep my knowledge up to date. This can be expensive!
  • Being On call:  I limit the number of families I serve at any one time, to ensure I have the time and energy necessary to serve them well. When you book me, I mark out 5 weeks in my calendar as “on call”. When I am on call,  I do not usually travel more than an hour from my home. Appointments, family & personal events and weekend trips are carefully planned, and I know they may be cancelled with little or no notice. I don’t have a glass of wine with dinner. I don’t wear perfume – just in case my client calls and hates my perfume in labour! As a mum myself, I have to make sure that I have childcare at any point, day or night. Some of this I have to pay for. Being on call is the high price of doula work. My family supports all the work I do, but my time is valuable to me and them.
  • Self care: Being a doula is wonderful, but it can also be physically and emotionally draining. If I don’t look after myself, I can’t look after you. After I have been a birth, I expect to need someone to fix my shoulders and back. I will be the support you need in labour and will deal with holding that position or applying that counter-pressure or dancing with you leaning on me for hours, afterwards. Osteopathy is a necessary business expense for me!
  • Travel Expenses: Filling up the car, parking the car, it all adds up. I used to add all travel expenses to my fee, but this made it more complicated for everyone. By having an inclusive fee, you will know upfront what you will owe me and can plan better yourselves.
  • Food and Drinks while at meetings and births. Repacking my doula bag for each on-call period requires restocking at the supermarket and putting aside more cash for in-hospital expenses. Birth partners do not get fed in hospitals and birth centres and if we’re at your home, the last thing I want you to be concerned about in labour is whether you have food I can eat!
  • Labour Tools:  massage oils, TENS unit electrode pads, Rebozo, essential oils, rice packs, washcloths. Some of these will get used up or wrecked at a birth and that’s just the way it is.
  • My Lending Library: I have a birth pool, TENS machine, Rebozo, books and CDs that I make available to clients.
  • Business Expenses:  Tax, insurance, running a car, paper, ink, folders, cards, marketing, website, mobile phone, internet. When you’re self-employed, your fee has to cover everything!
  • My Time:  I will probably average 26-30 hours caring for one family from the antenatal through to the postnatal period. This is from: at least 4, but quite possibly more, antenatal/postnatal visits, plus travel time; a typical time spent at a birth might be 12 hours (but it might be a lot more!); time spent looking things up or sending you info; plus email, text and telephone support from the point at which you hire me to after the postnatal visit(s). Using a reasonable hourly rate of £15/hour (and just think, what do you pay your hairdresser/osteopath/massage therapist an hour?), more than half of my doula fee is used up before I spend anything on supplies or training…and that’s without including being on-call, which would be paid well in many other professions!

To put it perspective, an independent midwife will charge around £4,000. Now I know that doulas are not midwives, we cannot (and don’t want to) take the role of a midwife and an independent midwife has years of training and experience at her back, as well as far more expensive equipment. BUT, the hours and commitment we offer is comparable. And I charge £750.

If you genuinely cannot pay my fees, then talk to me. We will work something out. And this FAQ might be of help.

L xx

Why Doulas Matter: A Review

I think the title of Maddie McMahon’s book, Why Doulas Matter, published by Pinter & Martin, is almost misleading. This isn’t a book that tells you to hire a doula, goes on about the evidence for doulas and what difference they do and could make to the NHS or that is a pat on the back for doulas.

This isn’t even really a book for doulas, though I recommend doulas, especially anyone earlier on in their Doulaing journey, reads it.

This is a book for parents.

In typical Maddie style, she doesn’t tell people what to think, but provides information and shows the reader what it is Doulas do, with examples and stories, then leaves it up to you, the reader, to make up your own mind, make your own choices. As well as covering many of the kinds of situations doulas support and the different stages of becoming a parent, with some of the things expectant and new parents might want to think about, this book covers some of the most common questions doulas are asked.

This books doulas the reader: supports, nurtures, leaves you knowing you have choices and can make the choices that are right for you. If a doula hug could be packaged into paper, this is it.

If you’re a doula, read this and learn, be reaffirmed in your vocation and feel supported by your doula-sisters. If you’re a midwife, health visitor or doctor who is working with pregnant women and new families (and so is, or may well, be working alongside doulas) read this and you’ll understand better what we do, why parents might want that and why working together positively helps everyone. And if you’re an expectant or new parent, whether or not you have hired, or plan to hire, a doula, read this book and be nurtured, supported and informed. Be doulaed.

This book brought me to laughter, to tears and left me feeling loved and lucky to be part of the incredible doula community in the UK, of which, for me and so many others, Maddie is an important part.

I know this will now be the book for me to give to pregnant friends and family, knowing that it will inform without lecturing or judgement, support and empower them.

L xx


An outsider looking in – scandals in NHS maternity care

I’ve been hearing a lot over the last few weeks about the Kirkup report into maternity care at Morecambe Bay, where there were several tragedies. The subsequent media attention focused on the blame laid at the feet of a group of midwives. There have been accusations made that the promotion of physiological birth directly caused deaths and doctors have written letters to newspapers saying that midwives don’t call them in.

I don’t know all the ins-and-outs. I haven’t read the full Kirkup report and don’t plan to. I am not a commissioner, a manager, a midwife or an obstetrician. In many ways, I am an outsider in the maternity care system. A layperson who reports to no one (though I do of course have the Doula UK Code of Conduct to abide by!), is held to no targets and works with clients alongside midwives, obstetricians, health visitors – anyone who helps care for my clients and their baby. When working with clients, and personally, I have experienced excellent care from midwives, registrars and consultants, and also suboptimal care from all three.

I wonder if this means I have a different view of this situation? I am not on the defensive. I do not feel that I am being attacked. But I see maternity care in practice.

Two things have been emphasised in the coverage and discussion around the Kirkup report (despite the report stating that all levels of staff failed in their duty of care): the promotion of “normal” physiological birth over safety and the refusal or reluctance of midwives to call doctors into help care for women as a team.

Two things that don’t seem to have been a big part of the discussion, but that seem to me to be critical, are: NHS targets and financial constraints; and the training of doctors.

As I understand it, the need to meet targets because of the Trust applying for Foundation status, was a factor in what happened at mid-Staffs and also Morecambe. If targets are being put ahead of safe, compassionate care, then this is wrong. Is it the fault of the midwives caring for women? I don’t think so. They are just the ones who have the most time with the women and babies in maternity care. You could argue that they have a responsibility to the women and babies in their care, so perhaps they should stand up to pressure from management to prioritise targets. But when the reality is that midwives are concerned that they could lose their jobs or have their career restricted AND are often just surviving in a system of 12 hour shifts perhaps without supportive management, I understand why so many midwives might just go along with what management tells them.

This idea that midwives are reluctant to refer women to doctors when there are clinical concerns is not something I have ever seen and the same was said by other, more experienced, doulas I have discussed this point with. I have however worked with clients in hospitals where the midwives and doctors are NOT working well together as a team. This has never been the fault of the midwives, but of the doctors’ training. Unbelievable as it may seem, doctors working in maternity care are not likely to have had training in women’s legal rights in birth, compassionate care, the effect of language or environment on the hormones of birth or physiological birth. In my experience, the effect of this is seen most in junior doctors, such as registrars. Some are utterly marvellous, but that is down to them, their personality, any additional reading or learning they might have done and the characteristics of their mentors, NOT what they all get taught as part of their training.

In my experience, doctors, especially the more junior ones, are more likely to come out with phrases such as “you are not allowed” (of course she is! A doctor does NOT get to make decisions for his patients in maternity), “you must”, “you are not progressing fast enough” (to women who are doing beautifully, but are not dilating in a linear way, as many women don’t!) or “we don’t do that” (when a woman has made a perfectly informed choice, as is her right, to do something or ask for something that may not be usual or within guideline recommendations). They are more likely to come into a birthing space and turn on bright lights, not use compassionate language and not be prepared to make their own jobs harder to make a woman’s birth experience more positive.

All of which can have a direct, negative impact on the progress of labour and the birthing experience of a woman and her partner. Language and support, or lack of, are common factors in birth trauma for new mothers and fathers. The research around birth trauma is that it is not really the mode of birth that predicts whether someone will develop birth trauma (or postnatal PTSD) but how supported they felt. I have read quotes from 19th century doctors textbooks on the importance of being quiet and respectful when entering the birthing space and keeping the birthing woman in a positive state of mind, to avoid stalling the labour. Unfortunately such advice seems to have gone out of fashion in medical training.

Some midwives do do all of this too, but less often.

If a were a midwife caring for a woman, who perhaps really wanted to avoid a surgical birth, was doing all she could to stay mobile in labour and wanted to avoid vaginal examinations, would my happiness to ask a registrar for an opinion be affected by whether I knew that doctor would come into the room, turn on the lights, tell the woman she had to get on the bed on her back for a vaginal examination and use negative language in discussing options (“you’re only Xcm. If you don’t progress, we will have to intervene” – who hasn’t heard this?!)?

Perhaps. I hope it would never affect safety. But. Perhaps.

Until doctors all get training in physiological birth, compassionate care and birthrights before working in maternity, there will be barriers to midwives and doctors working in harmonious teamwork, no matter how good the management is. And this has nothing to do with midwives “being territorial” and all about wanting the best outcomes in terms of physical and mental health for mothers and babies.

I don’t know what happened at Morecambe and how all of the factors played together. I do know that in many areas of NHS maternity care, a culture change is needed. Teamwork. Compassionate care. Respect for birthrights. Working to have as many families as possible have positive birth experiences, whatever the outcomes.

And what would that mean? Safer care.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

All That Matters: Women’s Rights in Childbirth, a Guardian Shorts original – my review

‘I want to say that a healthy baby is not all that matters and that, resoundingly, it all matters. This is the story of women, of why they matter too, and the things that happen when they are pushed to the bottom of a hierarchy in birth’ ~ Rebecca Schiller, ‘All That Matters…’ 2015

 In All That Matters: Women’s Rights in Childbirth, a Guardian Shorts original, Rebecca Schiller succinctly explains why women’s right in childbirth are so important, and illustrates the myriad ways that human rights abuses in childbirth are occurring around the world. She takes you on a world tour, with the personal accounts – that illustrate her points so well – coming from women as far afield as Tanzania, the Australian outback, New York and London.

Childbirth is a time when women are simultaneously at their most powerful and their most vulnerable. How women are treated at this time has enormous ramifications, not just for them, their baby and their family but for society as a whole. As Rebecca puts it:

‘As a mirror to society, childbirth, the attitudes to it, practices around it and experiences of women going through it, reflect the progress that has been made in advancing women’s rights. This reflection also shows us that there’s still a long road ahead.’ ~ Rebecca Schiller, ‘All That Matters…’ 2015

This book covers a difficult subject with eloquence and skill. Rebecca’s passion as a mother, doula and campaigner shine through, making easy to read a well-researched and in-depth book with some harrowing tales to tell. Some of her personal experiences are related, and she makes it clears that, despite all the negative stories, birth itself is not something to be feared and there are many positive things happening to celebrate.

Rebecca lays out her arguments with skill, debunking the myths that “all that matters is a healthy baby”, that there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to give birth from a feminist viewpoint and that human rights in birth are not something we should all be concerned about.

The book is clearly incredibly well researched and leading figures from the worlds of human rights, midwifery and obstetrics are quoted (along with myself – the only bit of the book I didn’t much like reading!).

This is a book that should be a ‘must-read’ for anyone with an interest in birth, human rights, birth rights or feminism. As a comprehensive introduction to a topic, I think it cannot be beaten.

All That Matters: Women’s Rights in Childbirth is to be published (as an e-book) on 20 February 2015, priced £1.99 with 10% of the profits going to Birthrights.

My birth story. Or not

Empowered: A Doula UK poster of a gentle caesarean

I’ve been pondering for my while whether to publicly share here the story of my son’s birth. As a doula, it is never about me. My birth and parenting experiences are only relevant to my clients if they have meant I know, without looking, of some information or signposts that may be of use to my clients. How I birthed and parent is my journey, my choices and has nothing to do with how I support families. Clients are going to make decisions that are not the decisions I would make because they are not me and their journey is not my journey. And I support them unconditionally, without judgement, to do so.

But as a doula and a facilitator of a Positive Birth Group, I have had comments from women whose birth and parenting journeys did not turn out how they wanted, or who made decisions they think do not “fit” with what I “believe in”, that they do not feel welcome within the Positive Birth Movement, or even that they felt they could not have a doula because of it.

For the record, doulas, certainly Doula UK doulas, are for any kind of birth, any kind of mama. We might not all be the right doula for any one family, but there will be one that is right for you and we will not judge. With Doula UK it’s in our Code of Conduct: we “recognise that womens’ choices are valid and that a woman assumes responsibility for the birth, parenting style or feeding method that she feels is right for her and her baby”.

The Positive Birth Movement is not about any one kind of birth. It is not about “natural” birth, it is not about home birth. According to the Positive Birth Movement, Positive Birth means:

  • Women are where they want to be
  • Choices are informed by reality not fear
  • Mothers are empowered and enriched
  • Memories are warm and proud

If you want to have a home birth and have a home water birth feeling empowered and supported, that’s a positive birth. If you don’t want to be at home, and birth in a birth centre, then that may be your positive birth. If you want to be in a consultant led unit and make an informed decision to have an early epidural that may be your positive birth. If you wanted to be at home but develop life-threatening complications that mean you know you need medical assistance, then being in hospital is where you want to be in the circumstances you were in, and that can be a positive birth.

My son’s birth was not the birth I had planned, but it was a positive birth. It’s a great example of how births that go “wrong” can still be positive, which is why I was considering sharing it. I have decided, for now, to not share the whole story publicly online. Just because it’s special to me, I can’t tell it without being personal about others and once it’s online, anything could happen. But here is a photo of me at my son’s birth, that has been made into a poster for Doula UK. I hope you agree that it shows you don’t need to be at home, surrounded by candles, to have a positive birth.

L xx

PS. We had a doula, two doulas! And they were marvellous Empowered: A Doula UK poster of a gentle caesarean

The Infant Feeding Survey is being cancelled. Why should you care?

I learnt this week that the Government is cancelling the Infant Feeding Survey for 2015, something I’m actually horrified about.

The leading breastfeeding support charities in the UK, along with Doula UK, are urging the Government to reverse this decision and they are asking supporters to contact their MPs about this.

But why should you care?

The UK Infant Feeding Survey (IFS) has been conducted every five years since 1975. The 2015 IFS would have been the ninth national survey of infant feeding practices to be conducted. The main aim of the survey was to provide estimates on the incidence, prevalence, and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers in the first eight to ten months after their baby was born.

The IFS provides hugely important information for anyone needing to develop policies or do research on infant feeding in the UK, as well as providing an update on how policies and the state of the UK are impacting on infant feeding.

The last IFS suggested that improvements in breastfeeding rates are stagnating and we may actually be losing ground. In cancelling the survey, the Government, intentionally or not, will be preventing there being any evidence that policies over the last few years (such as the loss of funding to Childrens Centre that has seen vital breastfeeding support services close and the ongoing shortage and over-stretching of midwives in England) have had a negative impact on whether mothers are able to breastfeed their babies.

The evidence – such as that provided by past IFS! – is that most new mums in the UK initiate breastfeeding, but less than half are breastfeeding by the time baby is 6 weeks old. Many mums would breastfeed, but do not get the support they need to do so. Stats from the IFS are used SO much when proving the need for projects that can provide better support for mums.

As the joint statement from the leading UK breastfeeding support charities says:

 “The IFS is a unique and crucial data source that informs what we and many other early years’ organisations do. The internationally recognised, robust information collected by the IFS helps us target support in appropriate areas, using suitable resources and interventions as well as giving a view of impact of interventions and education over time, particularly for families least likely to breastfeed or introduce solid food when not developmentally ready. “

The cancellation of the IFS also further signals the slippage of breastfeeding down the public health agenda.

This isn’t about whether you breastfed your babies or not, and whether you’re 100% happy with that journey. It’s about our Government signalling that they don’t care about how babies are fed, when they really really should. On a population level how babies are fed affects health, it affects the sustainability of the NHS, so many things.

So please, email your MP.

It doesn’t take long. Use, enter your postcode and write a short message to your MP. You can’t copy & paste, but can use phrases from the official statements or my own email (at the bottom of this post).

You can also email Jane Verity, Head of Maternity at the Department of Health on

Thank you.


To see the Doula UK statement, see here:

To see a joint statement from The Breastfeeding Network (BfN), Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) and La Leche League (LLL), see here:


Dear MP
I understand that the Infant Feeding Survey for 2015 is to be cancelled. I find this move both shocking and disappointing and am writing to you to ask that you ask the Government to reverse this decision.

The cancellation of the 2015 Infant Feeding Survey has huge implications for the provision of evidence-based support in the area of infant feeding, and so for the health of the UK. It is symptomatic of how far down the Government’s agenda infant feeding has slipped, despite the huge body of evidence that raising breastfeeding rates is vital to both the NHS nd the economy.

Doula UK and national breastfeeding support charities are urging the Government to reverse this decision and carry out the 2015 IFS. As my democratic representative, I ask that you please join them.

Yours sincerely,

Lindsey Middlemiss


The Rules (of establishing breastfeeding

The Rules (of establishing breastfeeding)

I learnt ‘The Rules’ from the marvellous Maddie McMahon at Developing Doulas.

Breastfeeding sometimes seems so complicated, especially when it’s not going well. Like Maddie, I deal with a lot of tongue-tied babies, and so a situation where either baby can’t latch, or won’t because of trauma, or mum cannot latch baby on because of pain or nipple trauma, is sadly not all that uncommon for me.

‘The Rules’ make life simple.

If a mum wants to breastfeed, the rules are:

1. Feed the damn baby*. However is necessary.

2. Protect mum’s supply. If baby is not latching or is not feeding effectively, this means regular expressing. Getting supply back later or even relactating is possible, but that’s a lot harder than establishing and maintaining supply in the early weeks when hormone levels are high.

3. Keep the dyad together as much as possible. If baby is in SCBU/NICU, that means mum staying with baby as much as possible. Wherever mum and baby are, it means as much skin2skin as possible. Don’t have helpful visitors cuddle baby all day. Baby and mum NEED to be together.

That’s it. Feed the damn baby. Protect mum’s supply. Keep the dyad together.

If baby isn’t feeding well and attempting to breastfeed is causing major stress, it isn’t an essential if ‘The Rules’ are followed. Babies who have never latched or breastfed successfully have been known to do so around 4-8 weeks if ‘The Rules’ have been followed. Babies grow, they recover from initial traumas, mothers recover strength and confidence and it’s a whole new world.

So if you’re struggling with breastfeeding in the early weeks, or are supporting someone who is, remember ‘The Rules’.

L xx

*Explaining the “damn” because Maddie thinks I should :).  Breastfeeding support and advice can get so complicated and conflicted, that in the chaos and confusion, people can forget the most important thing about infant feeding. Feeding the baby! The “damn” is an expression of frustration at those who unintentionally undermine breastfeeding and highlights the vital point. Babies are, of course, never damned. They’re all just perfect.