Laura’s postnatal reading recommendations
This is a collection of the various books and related resources that I’ve recommended at various times on the Winchester NCT WhatsApp chat. Rather than keep spamming everyone when a new mum or dad joins the group, I’ve created this page. All recommendations are just based on my own experience as Mum of one baby; I’m not a professional at any of this.
My book links are to Amazon purely because I bought most of them on Kindle (one-handed with backlight rocks; I haven’t read a physical book since my baby was born).
Antenatal classes don’t (for whatever reason) properly prepare you for breastfeeding (or for combi-feeding or even really formula feeding). Rather than spending the first three months like me, Googling and reading endless Facebook threads, just read one book (ideally before the birth):
This book contains most of the information I found out the hard way. I think every pregnant woman should read this, so you have some idea what to expect and where to get help of you need it. It’s also useful later on in your breastfeeding journey; eg returning to work.
If breastfeeding goes smoothly for you, that’s all you should need to get started.
General breastfeeding help
If you want, or need, extra help with getting a good latch (attaching the baby to your boob), or if you have doubts about any aspect of breastfeeding (inc sleep), these are some handy resources:
Hampshire Breastfeeding Counselling by NCT (Facebook page for in-person or Zoom one-to-one breastfeeding support)
Free-to-use breastfeeding service run by the NCT. For any mothers and babies in Winchester, Basingstoke, and Andover (see posts for details of the services in each place, and for help if you’re in Southampton). I used the Winchester service a lot; it was really valuable for both help with breastfeeding itself but also for emotional support.
I wished I’d had this video in the first few days. She goes into detail instead of just saying the same as everyone else and skating over the little things that matter a lot.
Lucy Webber (lactation consultant; online resources)
YouTube - Useful videos on how to latch.
Instagram - She posts useful and reassuring information about breastfeeding.
Prof Amy Brown (Professor of a research group at Swansea Uni where she does research on being a new parent, especially infant feeding; online resources)
Instagram - Posts useful and reassuring information about breastfeeding and new parenting.
Lyndsey Hookway (lactation and sleep consultant; online resources)
Instagram - Very down-to-earth and realistic. Posts useful and reassuring information about breastfeeding, sleep, and new parenting.
A vast resource of really useful info. Best way is to just search for what you need. Lots of the basic stuff but also the more detailed stuff like how milk production works, how to calculate how much milk you need to pump, why it’s fine to feed to sleep, and much more.
Breastfeeding and Lactation Support UK (Facebook group)
I learnt a lot of general breastfeeding info (e.g. cluster feeding; supply rebalance at ~3 months; baby feeding behaviour changes) from just browsing and reading the threads and links that other people had posted. Though some of that I found later in The Positive Breastfeeding Book.
If you hit problems, especially in the early days, here are some things I found useful (we had undiagnosed tongue tie which caused pain and inefficient feeding in the first few months, then although we continued it never got as comfortable or efficient as I’d hoped):
Reviews the research on tongue tie. Even if your baby has tongue tie, you don’t need to read this, but it’s an easy read if you want to understand more.
One thing I don’t recommend (though obviously it’s your call!) is the mention of “bodywork” and osteopaths. As far as I can tell, there’s no evidence that it can help improve breastfeeding (I keep meaning to email the author to check this but there are no citations for her assertions about “bodywork” in the book, which you almost don’t notice when the rest of the book is about reviewing the evidence). My personal opinion is that, without evidence that it actually works, it’s just a way to make money from desperate parents who will pay money for anything if they think it might help (here’s what the NHS says about the evidence for osteopathy).
Again, this is only for reading if breastfeeding hasn’t worked out the way you expected. The author is Amy Brown, same as The Positive Breastfeeding Book - she’s really readable; I’m a big fan of her writing.
Breast compressions, by Dr Jack Newman (webpage and YouTube video)
How to recognise when your baby is drinking and how to do breast compressions if you need it (not necessary if all is going well).
Starting solid foods
We went the “baby-led weaning” route (i.e. finger foods from the start, no purees, hardly any spoonfeeding). However, the following resources are all relevant whichever route you take:
A short book that reviews the research evidence around starting solids. I found it useful for nutritional info among other things but very informative about various aspects of weaning (one-sentence summary: be responsive to baby’s needs and don’t feel pressured to start early).
I’ve read a few of those short books in that Why… Matters series - they’re really good and easy to read.
What Mummy Makes (book)
A recipe book for family meals and finger foods that are suitable from 6 months. Some really useful things (like salt-free, skinless sausages; tuna chickpea pasties; chocolate ice cream) you can cook in batch and freeze. She basically takes a single set of ingredients and almost every recipe uses a subset of them so you’re not constantly finding you need to buy something else.
Mini First Aid course (paid-for course; we did it on Zoom but may now be available in-person)
Really clear and practical course on first aid for babies and toddlers. We did it through Basingstoke NCT on Zoom during lockdown (or near-lockdown). It’s very good, even without being able to do hands-on practice (though I think it probably goes in better if you get some hands-on practice during the class). She also sells first aid kits, which we bought as they contain the stuff you need.
Baby First Aid: How to save a choking baby, by British Red Cross (YouTube video)
Short, useful, instructional video. Good for learning or refreshing.
Solid Starts (Instagram)
Run by paediatric feeding experts. Posts useful and reassuring information about giving real food to babies. Be inspired but not intimidated by some of their videos of ~8 mth old babies eating loads of varied food and not just throwing it on the floor (I don’t believe those babies really exist).
I would now never buy a sling without having tried it out first. I had a sling consultation (on Zoom) then hired a sling for four weeks. My baby and I got a lot more confident but we were close to six months and didn’t think the newborn one would last long. So we hired another one for a week. We both loved it the first time we tried it so I bought one.
Caroline, Sling Consultant at Bourne Green (was Seaside Parenting; sling consultations on Zoom or in Bournemouth.
Caroline was really helpful. After paying for a consultation, she provides free on-going support on Facebook Messenger; eg you can post photos of your sling wearing and she can give you feedback.