Breastfeeding; Getting Support  and Help

In traditional societies, girls grew up in the company of other women. They watched as their aunts and older sisters breastfed their children. When they had children of their own, they were surrounded by supportive and experienced family members. In modern society, many women are starting their families very much on their own. Mothers seek out "communities" of like-minded women for support and information on the internet, but nothing compares to the camaraderie of a group of real mothers and their babies or the hands on help of a lactation consultant.

Mother-to-Mother Support Groups

50 years ago 7 American housewives wanted to breastfeed their babies at time when breastfeeding was totally out of style. The women decided to get together regularly in order to exchange whatever information they could find, share their experience and support each other in their decision to breastfeed their babies. This was the beginning of Leche League International - a network of mother-to-mother support groups that help women breastfeed by offering support, encouragement, information, and education. While women trained as breastfeeding counselors lead the meetings, they foster open discussions in which every mother can participate.

Leche League led the way for other groups to start. Your local hospital may host a group or even your place of worship. In Great Britain, check out the Breastfeeding Cafes. Besides being informative, it is a lot fun to just get out and breastfeed your baby with a bunch of other breastfeeding mothers. And several studies prove that women who receive postnatal breastfeeding help breastfeed for longer. It is a good idea to visit a group while you are pregnant just to see what normal breastfeeding looks like and what to expect.

Lactation Consultants

Breastfeeding is not always easy. Many mothers experience pain in their breasts or nipples. Their babies may be fussy at the breast or not gain sufficient weight. Internationally board certified lactation consultants, IBCLCs, are trained to work with mothers and their babies to overcome their problems and enjoy breastfeeding. They are trained to help women breastfeed in special circumstances as well, such as after breast reduction surgery, premature babies and babies with Down Syndrome. Many hospitals employ IBCLCs. Once you are home, you can invite an IBCLC to your house or see one in a clinic. Many IBCLCs form lasting relationships with the mothers they work with offering them on going follow up by phone.

Whether you are in need of help or would just like some company, there is no substitute for real live mothers like you.