BreastfeedingFirst Five DaysLactation ConsultantPregnancy

Build your Breastfeeding Support Network or Prepare for Failure.

Are you a fourth-time breastfeeding pro? Or a first-time breastfeeder in a bottle feeding family?

No matter what your skill level in breastfeeding, you need to build your breastfeeding support network, or prepare for failure. It is vital to surround yourself with people who believe in you breastfeeding your baby. Praise and support are encouraging in the early months, when you are learning, and you doubt everything! You need people who will remind you to keep going, clean your house and cook your food, and find you professional support, if needed. The people who believe in you are there to remind you to see the bigger picture when you start preparing for failure.

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Breastfeeding support is everywhere. Different kinds of people support your endeavors in breastfeeding in different ways. Build your support network by collecting a group of contacts in your phone or keep a list in your notebook.

Where can I find these people?

1. Make a list of your friends and family who have breastfed.

Some people are more empathetic than others. While you are pregnant, ask your family and friends what their early weeks were like, and what was helpful, and what was not. You will get a better sense of who you feel comfortable talking to, when you start breastfeeding.

If you have just had your baby, they may be contacting you with advice, both relevant and irrelevant, which can be overwhelming. Tag supporters in your phone or keep a list on a notepad, so you can return their call when you actually need their help.

When you have a question, contact the ones you like best, tell them your baby has arrived, that you are trying to breastfeed, and then tell them how it’s really going. : )

2. Look up breastfeeding support groups in your area.

You don’t have to have a baby to attend–just come as you are–pregnant. Most moms will tell you they wish they had taken the time to actually meet real live moms and babies before they gave birth. Support groups are a good way to meet other moms, and make new friends with babies the same age as yours.

If you have a baby, definitely go to a local breastfeeding support group, or a ‘mommy and me’ support group. It can be overwhelming to pack up and get out of the house with your baby to face a roomful of strangers. I can assure you that most likely your discomfort will be short lived. I can’t promise, but the odds are that you will be happy you went.

If you are unhappy, then ask yourself. Is it you, or was it the group?

It might be that you aren’t ready for a group yet. Recovery can take more time than you think. If you are tired or feeling upset, you might do better to rest, focus on yourself and figure out what you really need. Getting a massage or therapy sessions might be a better choice for now.

If you think it was the group, don’t give up when your first few aren’t quite right for you.

There are support groups for everyone! La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, Baby Café and WIC all have active support groups all over the USA. Most hospitals and baby stores have baby groups, and you will find more on Meetup.com.

Online groups can be a lifesaver.

Online groups are great if you are housebound with the pandemic, the weather, a premature baby, or an illness. An advantage of online groups is specialization. No matter what challenge you find yourself facing, there is a group focusing on supporting people with that challenge. Search on Instagram and Facebook, or Google using specific words of what you want, like “Poughkeepsie mom group” or “Rhinebeck Twins Mom Group”

3. Find an IBCLC who will come to your house.

Make a list of lactation specialists who help moms in your area. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) have the most expertise, training and experience. Schedule a 10 or 15 minute prenatal conversation to see if you feel comfortable asking them for help, should you need to. Most insurances cover their services.

The Breastfeeding Café is my online support community filled with expectant and breastfeeding and moms. It’s a friendly place where you can grab a cup of coffee, login and chat. Come join us!

4. Build a list of trusted resources.

Search first with these trusted online resources. If you google a breastfeeding question you know you will come up with some surprising (and embarrassing) results, as well as some stomach-churning photos.

1. Donna Bruschi, IBCLC — Call or text (845) 750-4402 with your questions. And don’t worry, you are not “bothering me!” Answering breastfeeding questions is what I do. It’s how help all mothers.

2. KellyMom.com — Kelly Bonata is an IBCLC who writes evidence-based articles clearly explaining every aspect of breastfeeding. https://kellymom.com

3. La Leche League — For over 60 years, this organization and its Leaders have supported, encouraged and empowered women to breastfeed. Small groups meet all over the world and trained group Leaders provide phone support and in-person support at group meetings. https://llli.org

4. Breastfeeding USA — A nationwide network of breastfeeding counselors who provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support and promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm. https://breastfeedingusa.org

5. WIC (Women, Infant and Children Nutrition) — WIC equips WIC moms with the information, resources and support they need to successfully breastfeed through the use of incentives, support groups, IBCLCs and WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors. https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov

5. BabyCafe USA — Baby Cafés are free groups for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers offering support from trained staff, and opportunities to share experiences and make friends. http://www.babycafeusa.org

6. USLCA — The professional association for American lactation consultants. Check certification, and and look for an IBCLC lactation consultant near you. https://uslca.org/resources/find-an-ibclc

5. Some of your supporters know nothing about breastfeeding.

Think of all the responsibilities you took care of before you had a baby. Working, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, dog walking, kitchen gardening, paying bills, home repairs and more, can and should be assigned to others for the first few weeks after birth.

Learning how to mother your baby through breastfeeding is an all encompassing lifestyle project. In time, you will get the hang of how you and your new baby are together and naturally bring aspects of your old life into your new life. But for now, let them go.

Happy breastfeeding!

Mother of three, including twins; Lactation Consultant; Partner of Michael;

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