My older sister is currently pregnant with her first child - and even though my baby is only seventeen months old, it reminded me of all the things you forget that happens when you're pregnant.
The appointments, the advice, the baby shower, the birth plans and all the classes you attend - the list is neverending. But mostly how bombarded we feel about our feeding choices.
Last week, I attended a breastfeeding workshop with my sister and her husband. It was one I had attended myself when I was pregnant, but to be honest, I didn't really take it in as much as I did this time - maybe it was because I felt slightly removed from the situation, or maybe I have just changed since having my own baby.
I found it really informative and thought it really helped her see the choices and the benefits of breastfeeding. I have experience with both and I understand the struggle many mums have.
As a mother of two little ones, I have experience with breastfeeding, but I had two very different births and two different experiences. With my first, t I never had any help or support and gave up breastfeeding because it hurt and I just wasn't getting the hang of it. The problem was that I really didn't know about the support out there for us new mothers. There are a lot of expectations among your groups about what you should do, and why.
With my second baby, I attended a breastfeeding workshop and have never felt more confident pre-birth to breastfeed. Armed with all my support, I felt ready.
Unfortunately, my daughter was born 3 weeks early, and she was a very low birth weight. This meant she had to have top-up feeds to keep her blood sugars at a normal level. At first, this wasn't an issue as she was cup fed, but as the days went on she was introduced to a bottle (not by my choice). This meant she no longer went for the breast and began fussing all the time.
As disheartening as this was, my baby needed to feed and, more importantly, she needed to gain weight, so I put aside my own personal sadness that I could no longer feed her how I wanted and concentrated on keeping her a healthy weight which I'm pleased to say she is at the moment.
Any new mums, or soon-to-be mums reading this, please try and breastfeed if you can, as the benefits of the first feed are so good to your babies immune system. Even if it is just for their first feed, I would urge you to try.
Do your research into breastfeeding, look at the pros and see the benefits it can have for your baby. Take all the advice and support you can get and remember, you are never alone. There is so much support out there for you, breastfed or bottle fed babies. Don't underestimate the importance of having someone to chat to about the challenges that lie ahead.
This weekend, I planned and hosted my sisters baby shower. After a conversation with people who don't have children, it became clear that breastfeeding knowledge in those without children is very low. I wonder if this is the reason that women who have their first children don't always try and breastfeed straight away?
One female guest told the group of us that she heard that it really hurts. (only really at the start. She was also shocked when my sister pointed out many of the all the health benefits of nursing your own child. This information also shocked many of those who had not yet started their families.
I am very much supportive of all women and the choices we make are personal. I wanted to continue feeding my baby and remain sad that my daughter was so small she had to have top up feeds which ended our breastfeeding journey. At the same time though, if a baby isn't feeding then any milk is better than no milk.
I hope that more women breastfeed, even for the first few days if they can, that way. No matter what choice you make, ensure you are informed and educated about the options available to you.
In the meantime, we are now waiting for little niece or nephew to be born!