It is common for new mums (even if it's not your first baby!) to experience difficulties when they are breastfeeding - every journey is unique and different and that's ok. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. But what do you do when you are really struggling, you have tried everything and do not know where to turn?
There is help out there and there are lots of lovely people ready to offer advice, give you support and guide you until you feel confident and relaxed whilst breasfeeding your baby. IBCLC's are breastfeeding experts and have a wealth of experience when it comes to breastfeeding. They are there to help you before your baby is born to give advice on how it all works, they are there during breastfeeding and can help you if you experience any pain or discomfort and they are also there to offer advice when your are starting to introduce solids but would like to breasfeed alongside this.
I met Hannah Croft at a baby show in Faversham during the early stages of opening The Bra Boss of Kent. We got chatting, and we both agreed that bra fitting and breastfeeding advice went hand in hand, as we are both here to ensure that new mums feel comfortable and supported during nursing!
As it is currently World Breast Feeding Awareness Week, I wanted to highlight just how important and reassuring it can be to get some expert advice. Below, Hannah has answered a few questions about her role, the common problems new mum's may experience and how she can help you! Hannah is so knowledgeable and approachable and offers such a great service to new mums in Kent.
Hello! My name is Hannah Croft, and I’m an IBCLC which stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant which is a bit of a mouthful! It means I’ve got the highest level of qualification in breastfeeding support. It took a long time to get the qualification; you have to prove 1000 clinical hours of providing breastfeeding support, as well as having certain science qualifications, and a documented 90 hours of breastfeeding specific education....and that’s just to be eligible to sit the exam! I’ve been qualified for nearly 2 years, and LOVE my job. I became an IBCLC after having breastfeeding difficulties with my own children (now aged 8 and 5) and recognising why reliable, evidence based breastfeeding support is so very important.
Why do ladies need breastfeeding support?
Breastfeeding can be hard work. As much as it’s normal and natural, it’s a skill that mums have to learn through practice and perseverance. To some mums it comes really easily, but not for the majority, and that’s why IBCLCs exist! Even mothers who’ve breastfed previous babies may struggle with a new baby and need some support and input to help feeding so a little smoother. It’s important to be able to reach out for help if something is feeling difficult or stressful.
What's the most common breastfeeding issues/concerns that you are able to help with?
I see families for a whole range of breastfeeding issues, but one of the most frequent issues is sore nipples; poor mums who are trying their best to keep feeding but their nipples are sore and damaged, and it means they’re dreading feeds; it’s far from the relaxing, bonding experience they were hoping for. Very often, with some simple changes to how the baby is latching we can reduce and even completely eradicate the pain meaning the mum can see a way to continue breastfeeding. It’s honestly the best feeling when I help a mum get her first pain free feed!
Can breast surgery impact breastfeeding?
Yes, sometimes; it can depend on many factors including the type of breast surgery, and how long ago it was performed. It’s really important to say that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing; any breastmilk you can give your baby is valuable and important, so often when working with mums who are struggling to achieve a full breastmilk supply, perhaps due to surgery, its about reframing expectations around the feeding relationship; breastfeeding can happen in many different ways. It’s about finding the way that feels right for each individual family.
How can new mums benefit from IBCLC's and what ways can you help them?
During Lockdown I began to offer online consults which are really effective, so I’m continuing to offer these as part of my practice; its a more economical way for families to access breastfeeding support. I’m also back doing home visits (which involves lots of PPE!) Its lovely to be back doing these; there’s nothing like being in a room with the parents and baby. Have a look at my website for more info on the services I offer, or do get in touch with me directly.
I also run free antenatal sessions every 6 weeks all about ‘Preparing to Breastfeed’, so useful for anyone expecting a baby, or who’s going to be supporting new parents. I used to run these from my local Children’s Centre but at the moment, I’m doing them online which means they’re accessible to a bigger audience.
If you are in need of some guidance and support, you can visit Hannah's website here, or follow her on social media - she gives loads of fantastic advise, little hacks and you will learn a lot!