NCT – The Breastfeeding Session

April 27, 2016

I’ve written about most of our NCT classes (here and here), so I think you’ve got a general idea about what went on, but several people have commented both on the blog and on Twitter that they’re keen to hear how the breastfeeding session went. I’d hate to disappoint so here’s my impression of the class…

The class lasted three hours. The lady running the class was a Breastfeeding Counsellor, rather than our usual NCT lady. She started off by telling us that over 90% of women are physically able to breastfeed. This surprised me as I was under the impression that around one third of women were unable to do so. She then went on to talk about cultural expectations and how these can interfere with successful breastfeeding.

I don’t know much about breastfeeding as none of my closest friends have had children so I haven’t had anyone that I can be too nosy with about it! I certainly haven’t seen a woman breastfeeding ‘close up’ as it were!

As a result I don’t know whether everything the breastfeeding counsellor was telling us was an accurate reflection of most women’s breastfeeding experience; but I must admit that I suspected she was presenting something of a rose-tinted view. The main message was that if you got attachment right, you’d have no problem breastfeeding.

Interestingly, a friend asked me afterwards if we found out what to do in a tongue tie situation, and I realised that this hadn’t been mentioned at all! So I’m guessing this breastfeeding malarkey isn’t as simple as all that!

We watched a lot of videos of women breastfeeding and how to get good attachment, hold the baby while feeding etc etc. They were very useful and explained things clearly, but all of these videos were filmed in Africa. There were lots of women with breasts that looked nothing like mine, in surroundings that looked nothing like mine. The session leader said that we have a big problem with breastfeeding culture in the UK; I can’t help but think that if these videos had been filmed in the UK then I might have identified a bit more with them. They were also all set in hospital. It would have been nice to see some women on their sofa at home, in front of a bit of daytime telly, feeding their babies.

It was amazing to see how babies instinctively seem to know how to breast feed. Again, that’s the impression that was given. But I’ve heard of so many women who say, “I didn’t know how to breastfeed, and nor did my baby. It was new to both of us!” All of these thoughts were going round in my head!

One thing that really struck me was the message that dads are essentially redundant when it comes to feeding. We were told not to express until ‘attachment is well established’ and the message was pushed that we should not use a bottle before this time because a bottle involves a different kind of suck for the baby and it could essentially mess up them breastfeeding.

Even after the babies had ‘learned’ how to attach well (even though they apparently come out of the womb knowing how to do it) expressing is discouraged because the milk in your breast is tailored to the time of day the baby is feeding (so day expressed milk in the night isn’t as good as a breast in the night).

The lady was saying how sometimes you think babies want a feed but really they just want comfort. So hubby innocently asked if, when he’s holding the baby and it displays signs of wanting to feed, he has to hand the baby straight over to me that instant.

Well. That question went down well. Cue a stern look and an incredulous, “why wouldn’t you?!” Poor man. I quickly jumped in to his defence and explained that she’d literally just told us that sometimes the baby looks like it wants a feed and sometimes it just wants comfort. So couldn’t the dad provide the comfort?

I hastily continued by saying perhaps we could ‘check’ whether the baby wanted a feed with me and then hand her back either afterwards or if she didn’t want to. This seemed to satisfy her!

I felt really sorry for the dads as it was obvious that they were feelings sidelined, and, being modern men (well, mostly!) they wanted to be involved in their child’s care.

Further to this, I enquired about roughly how long it takes for the baby to become a ‘breastfeeding pro’ so we can introduce expressed milk as I have a close friend’s wedding to attend in August and the baby isn’t invited.

Well, her first response was that I shouldn’t go to the wedding! I must admit I got a bit antsy at this point (as I am involved in the ceremony) and asked her to answer the question. She continued to be vague and suggested that I might like to discuss this issue with my husband…(not entirely sure what she was getting at here!)

Eventually she conceded that it’s usually by around six weeks but still suggested cup feeding of expressed milk rather than using a bottle. (Obviously it can take longer for some babies. That’s fine, I get it, I just wanted a ballpark answer!)

So, I’ve decided that I’m just going to wait and see. I’ll try to do all of the things that were talked about during the session and see how I get on. As for expressing and how to involve my husband in feeding, well that is something we’ll decide together.
I also took a photo of all of the feeding cues we talked about so I can use it as a crib sheet!

NCT classes, NCT, breastfeeding, breastfeeding NCT class,

Cuddle Fairy

15 responses to “NCT – The Breastfeeding Session”

  1. My goodness! I have to say, I am a little surprised. It sounds like the NCT class was a little one sided and not exactly up to date with modern views and experiences. I think the NCT is great and have often gone to their events etc, but having breastfed our little one for approx 10 months, some of the advice that you were given doesnt reflect my experience. For example, we had to give our little one a bottle at hospital for the first few days whilst I was waiting for my milk to come in, and then once it came in I started breastfeeding. This didnt interfear with the little ones ability or preference of breast over bottle. In fact, after that I couldnt actually get her to take a bottle again until around 6 months! Just one example of how the advice conflicts with real life experience. At the end of the day, breastfeeding is different for everyone, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt and for multiple reasons. So I always just say go with the flow and see what happens 🙂 Emily #BloggerClubUK

  2. Bec says:

    Sounds like a very mixed session! First of all she’s right that over 90% of women can physically breastfeed but it’s a case of getting the right support. And good attachment is key but it’s not always easy to achieve, hence the need for support! It doesn’t sound like she made it clear that comfort feeding is important for supply as well. Also, there’s loads dad can do without feeding – cuddles, nappy changes, walks etc. I’m not using bottles at all this time around but my husband is still very involved.

    That said it did sound like this woman’s attitude was a real problem. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, maybe if you find your local support group they’ll be able to give some real life advice, the Facebook group for my local La Leche League has been great for hearing from other mums.

    • Jules says:

      Thanks. She was very well meaning and would probably be very upset that I’ve taken what she said the way that I have. I just found it all a bit too simplistic. However, I do feel she’d be really good about wanting to help if I had a problem with breastfeeding and I think I would still approach her, I’d just try to reconcile her advice with the real world!

  3. I breastfed all three of my son’s and thankfully never had much of an issue beyond the first three days with each of them. I rarely expressed because I found it too time consuming and unnecessary. I was with the children most of the time, so there was no need.
    As for the wedding, we were invited to a wedding g when my first child was 7 weeks old. I fed him before and after the church ceremony (my mum waited outside in the car with him) and then my mum had him for the afternoon. We just stayed at the wedding till 6pm. My son had an expressed feed in a bottle for my mum while we were away.
    Maybe something like that could work for you.
    Be careful if you plan to have a drink at the wedding. It can cause leakage!

    • Jules says:

      I’m hoping we can make something work. I’ve got a paediatric nurse lined up as a babysitter so I’m hopeful! Thanks for the warning – I’m terrified of leaking everywhere!

  4. Katie Taylor says:

    great post! I did this very session and the fire alarm went off in the building the doors locked and PANIC! loads of pregnant women and their partners trapped! there wasn’t a fire it was a faulty. anyway I loved the breastfeeding session, didn’t find it too pushy and I left feeling confident to give it a go. managed 3 weeks and then swapped to bottle. #bloggerclubuk

    • Jules says:

      I’m going to see how it goes. I’m hoping to get to six months at least but if it doesn’t work out I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

  5. The Pramshed says:

    I remember going to this session, and coming out of it thinking that breastfeeding is really easy, as you said it is all about getting a good latch. However in reality I found it really difficult at first, having had a C-section I couldn’t lift baby very well so we really struggled with the latch. She was also a very hungry baby, so we had to top up with formula for about two weeks until she regained her birth weight. Once we got the hang of it after a couple of weeks, it was all good, switching to exclusive breastfeeding. It’s not easy breastfeeding, it takes perseverance and support from your partner. I wish you all the best with it, but don’t worry if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go. Happy Mummy = Happy Baby. Claire x #BloggerClubUK

    • Jules says:

      Thank you! It’s reassuring to know that you used formula for a bit too, and it wasn’t the end of the world x

  6. Katarina Ramsden says:

    Wow, she sounds a bit militant – even suggesting you shouldn’t entertain the idea of going to your friends wedding – my best friend is getting g married 10 days after my due date and I’m still hopeful I will make it to some portion of the day! Our breastfeeding session was a little different, run by our usual practitioner and I thought she was really good and non-militant about it – we watched the same video by the sounds of it. I really want to be able to breastfeed but if I can’t, I can’t, and breast isn’t always best, FED is best. My friend had to formula feed and express as she couldn’t find a latch, with a small nipple and a small baby mouth, and then when he was about 10 weeks old she tried breastfeeding again and he can manage it this time. Apparently my grandmother who was prone to anxiety and depression really stressed over it and her milk ended up being basically toxic to my dad – when she finally gave him formula, he thrived. Not breastfeeding, or not being able to straight away is not the end of the world.

  7. Wow this session seems a bit militant on the breastfeeding front and not particularly useful for troubleshooting or encouraging mums! Felt for you husband and the other men in the room, they feel helpless enough during pregnancy with out being made to feel like that 🙁 I hope that you got something out of the teaching, remember that all midwives are trained to help with breastfeeding and health visitors so if you need some more advice (and less of a rose tinted picture) try contacting them #bloggersvlubUK

    • Jules says:

      Thanks. Yes it was a bit full on! There was a lot of useful stuff mentioned too, but yes, you’re right, I would have liked more trouble shooting. I think perhaps they didn’t want to mention the potential problems too much in case it put us off!

  8. This woman doesn’t sound impartial enough to give advice, it sounds like she is a bit of a breast feeding Nazi and most of her answers sound a bit text book rather than adapting to each families situations. Follow your gut instinct!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂

    • Jules says:

      I have no doubt that she meant well, and at the time everything sounded like it made sense, but when you insert real life…not so much! I’m not sure I would use the term ‘Nazi’ though. I think that’s a bit strong!

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