Jennifer Irvine - award-winning businesswoman, founder of The Pure Package, published author and mother of four(!) - discusses her experiences of breast feeding, and the benefits of it.

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. I had decided early in my first pregnancy that I would do my best to breastfeed as much as I could, for as long as I could, but I made the conscious decision not to stress too much about it.  I do believe that, nutritionally,  “breast is best”, but I also feel that enjoying the early days with your baby is crucial – and if this is going to be difficult because of breastfeeding, then you need to look at other options so that your parenting experience is as stress-free as it can be.  I highly recommend the NHS, whose nurses and consultants are a life-line to so many sleep-deprived new mums, trying to work out what’s best for them and for their little ones.

As it turned out, I got lucky – I didn’t find breast feeding impossibly difficult, and while I wouldn’t say that it was always easy, it was something I was happy to do for each of my girls.  Having researched it quite a bit beforehand, and spoken to (in fact, grilled!) many of my “mummy” friends, I think that I had realistic expectations about what breast-feeding would entail.  I didn’t go into it thinking that it was going to be all flowing white cotton and soft lighting!  So when I – inevitably - suffered from mastitis and was plagued with sore, cracked nipples (because doesn’t everyone who breastfeeds get struck down at some point or another?), I didn’t panic.  Likewise, I knew that with each of the babies it would take time to develop our routine, to find the best position, to work out what sort of feeder they were.