All this grandmothering has brought back the experiences of 30 years ago - like riding a bike, these things once learned never really go away. And it's quite challenging to know how much to act the Wise Woman of the tribe and how much to keep my mouth shut. However, the early release from hospital of new mothers and their babies - even with the community backup - means that the environment for learning and making mistakes is considerably more isolated than it was when I had my babies and was kept in for a week without any particular reason other than because that was what they did.
From what I saw on the ward this week, the most trying area for a new mother can be the business of breastfeeding. I remember the harrowing experience of being made to wait till four hours elapsed between feeds, of wondering if I could last that long, let alone the baby, of not getting the angle right, of cramp in the shoulder with the strain of trying. Before I had my second baby, I read a wonderful book Breast is Best and confirmed all I had already learned, so that the whole thing was a piece of cake, but the first time if I hadn't had a determined and lucid mother of my own to help me I'd probably have given up - for that was what was encouraged in 1974.
But now I recall these vital tips - the basics of successful feeding: Feed when either of you feels like it - the baby or you. If you're lucky, you'll coincide. If not, tough. Feed anyway. Otherwise you'll feel you might burst and in the end the back pressure will diminish the supply of milk. And make sure the baby takes enough of you into her mouth - or she won't create the right kind of pressure and will swallow air and you'll get sore - to say nothing of the baby's insides! And if she sleeps when you want her to get a move on, tickle the soles of her feet, or pat them.
And relax and enjoy it. It doesn't go on for very long in the grand scheme of things, and you should aim to get the most out of it yourself. It's not often that you can indulge in something so pleasureable which is actually doing good for someone!