The World Breastfeeding Week theme this year was Breastfeeding Support: Closer to Mothers. This topic is so crucial. I believe without the support I received I would be struggling as an exclusively pumping mama. I wouldn’t have all of the beautiful nursing moments that I am so fond of. I would be questioning myself every day. I would be wondering if I was doing all I could for my son. I would probably have postpartum depression.
My support system started with my mother. If you’ve been reading along, you already know that she was also my doula. As my doula she supported me both during labor and during the two weeks following my son’s birth. She offered silent support at times, just sitting with me. At other times she encouraged me.
The next person in my support system was Julie. Julie is a certified lactation consultant at our local hospital where I gave birth. I visited her a few days after my son’s birth. You can read about how much support she gave me in those early days in previous posts. Her support continued on for weeks while we sorted out why we were struggling so much. We met weekly for about 8 weeks or so. I looked forward to those visits all week. Most of the time it was just a reassurance that I was doing everything I could.
Then there were the breastfeeding support groups. The first one was at the hospital where little man had his NICU stay. This group was huge. It was overwhelming. I didn’t really enjoy it. I remember sitting there at the first group and wanting to run away. I wanted to cry and crumple up into a ball. Here were all these women so easily able to breastfeed their children. They were pros. I was nothing. I held it in until I got to my car when I just let it all out. I cried so hard that day. I thought I would never be able to do what they do. I didn’t want to go back. But I knew I needed support. I knew it was the key to getting somewhere. So I went back. At the second meeting I was doing better. Little man was nursing more and taking bottles less. When it was my turn to introduce myself I just started bawling. There was such a release of emotion. This was what I needed. I continued to go to the group. Although I didn’t get too much advice out of the meetings themselves, the lactation consultants that ran the meeting were very helpful. There were a couple times I met with them after the meeting.
The second group I went to was actually at the hospital across the highway from the other group. This group was much smaller and intimate. At this point we were doing much better. Little man had his tongue tie revision a week or two before. This was where I was able to offer support. There were often new mothers in and out each week. I had been there. I had advice to offer. This was when I started to feel like what we went through had a purpose. I was now able to help other mothers. This was also where I learned about Dr. Margolis and got his contact information from a lactation consultant there. For this I will always be thankful. Little man’s lip tie revision was a huge turning point in our breastfeeding relationship.
Then there are the online communities. I wasn’t one to ask questions often but I read and read and read, not just the posts and threads but the links to articles and blogs. Now I’m the one answering questions and offering resources.
Breastfeeding support is so crucial. If you’ve been there, please reach out to other mothers. We can all use all the support we can get. And if you’re in need of support don’t be afraid to seek it out. You are not alone. There is someone out there who has gone through at least some of what you are going through.