Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Breastfeeding Support by Allison Silver
Happy World Breastfeeding Week Mamas’! The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is: Breastfeeding Support: Close To Mothers’. Support is so critical for women who are breastfeeding. In fact lack of support is the number one reason why most women stop breastfeeding early on. When we think of support we tend to think of healthcare providers. Although healthcare providers can be very helpful in making sure the breastfeeding relationship is off to a good start they are not the main source of support for most breastfeeding women after delivery. The main sources of support are: spouses/partners, family, friends, and peer support.
This week’s theme is all about peer support. One of my favorite sources of peer support for breastfeeding is La Leche League. La Leche League is a non profit organization whose mission is, “To help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.” Being part of our local La Leche League chapter has been such a vital part of my breastfeeding relationship with my child. It has been a wonderful way to meet other moms’. Having the support of other mothers who are going through similar challenges has played such an important part in our breastfeeding journey.
As moms we tend to think that we are all alone on this journey, especially in the beginning. I know when I was a new mom I didn’t leave the house very much for the first three months after I had Charley. It was such a chore to get us both ready and out of the house. Plus there was the dreaded car rides! Our first social outing was to a local La Leche League meeting and I was so glad I forced myself to make the trip. The leader was very welcoming and it was so nice to be around other moms’ who shared both their success stories and difficulties.
Since our first encounter with La Leche League we have continued to go to our monthly meetings. Now that Charley is older I attend the toddler meetings and find much comfort from being around other moms who are also nursing their toddlers. I also attend some of the regular meetings but instead of going to find support I now go to offer support to new moms’.
It’s funny how everything comes around full circle. I never would’ve guessed that I would be nursing a toddler or offering support to others with regards to breastfeeding, but here I am! Breastfeeding may seem second nature to me now but it wasn’t always easy. In fact for the first three months it was downright hard! I was quite determined to make this breastfeeding thing work but I also had a good support network that consisted of my husband, my mother-in-law, a lactation consultant, and the peer support of other moms at La Leche League.
When I was pregnant my mother-in-law gave me a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (a La Leche League publication). She is a huge breastfeeding advocate and had mentioned how important it was to be around other breastfeeding moms. I glanced the book over a bit but I had no idea how much of a support that book would be during my first year of breastfeeding. We often joke that babies don’t come with a manual but if they did it would definitely be, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding! That book covers everything. If you are a breastfeeding mom or considering breastfeeding you really owe it to yourself to get a copy of this book. Or why not give a copy to a breastfeeding mom!
Whenever I meet a mom and and the topic of conversation turns to breastfeeding they are usually quite shocked that I’m still breastfeeding and sometimes I get a response like, “I tried breastfeeding but it didn’t work for me.” My response to this is typically, “Good for you for trying. It’s hard. Did you have any support?” And in most cases it turns out that they did not have adequate support and were encouraged to stop nursing early on.
Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and for some moms it’s not an option. However you feed your child is your personal decision and as long as you feed your child with love and respect that’s what matters most. But for many moms the desire to breastfeed is there it’s just the support that is missing. So here is my task of you this week. In honor of world breastfeeding week, the next time you see a mother nursing in public walk up to her and tell her what a great job she is doing. That few seconds of time out of your day could make a world of difference in her breastfeeding journey.