It takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes mom needs a village of her own – especially when it comes to breastfeeding. That’s why, even before giving birth, it’s important for expectant mothers to line up appropriate resources to ensure they have the support they need. Where should you begin, though? With so much information out there, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, but luckily, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.
Start With Books
If you’re toting around a copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” or another pregnancy classic, then you know just how helpful these texts can be. When it comes to breastfeeding, though, you’ll want to choose some more targeted books to support you on your breastfeeding journey. “Breastfeeding Made Simple” is a popular choice, as well as “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding” by the famous natural birth proponent Ina May Gaskin.
Connect With A Lactation Consultant
You can learn a lot about what to expect by reading about breastfeeding, but the best source of lactation support is a professional lactation consultant. Consultations with these certified professionals are often covered by insurance and can be transformative for new mothers, especially those who are struggling with or anxious about breastfeeding. Whether you need help with finding the best hold or correcting your baby’s latch or just need a cheerleader to support you as you deal with the stress of new motherhood, a lactation consultant can help.
Find A Support Group
Is there any more obvious source of support than a support group? Maybe not, but there’s a reason you can find a support group for everything – they work. Of course, right now, you may still be reticent to attend a breastfeeding support group in person, but the good news is that you can “meet” with others mothers online. On the other hand, if you want to attend meetings in person, your local maternity ward or pediatrician can help you find one near you.
Find Your People
Attending a support group can go a long way towards helping you meet your needs, but sometimes a general support group can cause a greater disconnect, rather than allowing you to feel like part of a community – and that can be more painful than going it alone.
If that sounds like your experience, then it’s time to find your people. There are support groups for Black women, mothers of preemies and multiples, and others who may not feel well-understood in mainstream groups.
The Role Of Friends And Family
Even if no one in your inner circle has experience with breastfeeding, they can still act as a source of support for you, but you have to work together to make this effort a success. Tell them what you need, such as help with supplemental bottle feedings so that you can rest, someone to talk to while you nurse and bring you water, or help with making meals or finishing housework.
It’s important to recognize that not all breastfeeding support is about the mechanics or even the emotional process. Sometimes it’s just about getting help with the little things when you’re tired and overwhelmed or feeling isolated at home with a new baby.
Every mother deserves to have the necessary physical and emotional support as they navigate the breastfeeding process, but many struggle to access the community they need. By planning ahead, seeking out different tools and groups, and communicating your needs to family and friends, however, you can pave an easier way forward for you and your baby.