National breastfeeding awareness month: The importance of support

breastfeeding

Breastfeeding support in the early weeks is crucial to the success of a breastfeeding relationship. Merging together the expertise of a board certified lactation consultant and the important role that other new mothers play in supporting and encouraging one another during this time, the Pavilion for Women started a special program just for these mothers.

This free breastfeeding support group meets every Friday from 10:30-12:30 at our Pavilion and is led by a Texas Children’s certified lactation consultant. Through a series of six rotating topics the unique format allows for mothers to explore answers to their breastfeeding questions through discussion, get hands-on assistance for individual challenges and find support and connection from other breastfeeding mothers.

In celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, five mothers that participated in our group are sharing what it meant to them.

For information about our group, please email breastfeeding@texaschildrens.org or call 832-824-6120.

Reux-225_BWI decided to attend the Breastfeeding Friends (BFF) class for a couple of reasons. I was very curious to see how much my baby was eating per feeding to have an idea of how much expressed milk to put in a bottle for her as I was going back to work soon. I was also looking for support in my transition back to work as I knew it would be difficult. Finally, it was an excuse to get out of the house for more than the grocery store or post office! I had such a positive experience with the lactation consultant at the breastfeeding class before birth and also while in the hospital and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), so I knew that the BFF class would also be a great experience. It was definitely an awesome experience to spend time with other new moms that were having some of the same challenges and successes as myself. The babies were all different ages (from a few days old to 6 months), so the more experienced moms could offer advice and encouragement to the brand new moms.  The group was much more than discussing the technical aspects of breastfeeding and also encouraged sharing our feelings, concerns and fears, as well as pumping questions or concerns. I learned lots of valuable advice and tips for pumping from the other moms! They also provide pillows, blankets, play mats and boppys so that you and your baby will be very comfortable during the meetings to play and breastfeed as needed, which is very nice so you don’t have to lug those things with you each week!
Alicia Winston

Unlike many new mothers, breastfeeding came with few complications at first. My son latched well and after facing a bit of a learning curve, we got into a groove. Then week five hit. All of a sudden my husband went back to work and I was alone for 12 hours a day with a baby. My son had a slight dip in weight gain, so I was now supplementing with small portions of formula and trying to pump after each feed while attempting to entertain a fussy newborn.  In addition, I had almost daily clogged ducts that were making breastfeeding even more of a challenge.  I had no idea what I was doing and was in tears and ready to throw in the towel. I remembered hearing about the breastfeeding support group from one of the lactation consultants at the hospital and thought it would at least get me out of the house after a tough week. Taking my son out alone for only the second time since he was born, I made the trip to the Pavilion for Women that Friday morning.

What I found was an incredible community. There were babies of all shapes and sizes, mothers struggling with oversupply, others supplementing with formula, stories that sounded just like my own, and experiences that were vastly different. Yes, I found answers to my breastfeeding questions, but more importantly, I realized I wasn’t alone in the difficult task of figuring out how to be a mother for the first time. The conversations offered invaluable advice about breastfeeding, but they frequently extended to sleep schedules, the best baby carriers, and other tips for surviving life with a newborn.  As I came back week after week, breastfeeding wasn’t always easier, but having that community of support made it so much better.  Suddenly, I found myself on the other end, sharing my advice and experiences with moms coming in facing their own five week (or two week or three month) road blocks.

I’m sure I will face new breastfeeding challenges as my son continues to grow, but I am so grateful for the support I found from the Breastfeeding Friends Friday group.  Being a new mother in today’s world can be incredibly isolating, and groups like this help mothers find the space to reach out and support one another.
Margie Martinez

I decideSSP_9429d to go to the Breastfeeding Friends class to meet new moms who were in the same situation as I was. I was breastfeeding my first baby and I had so many questions. It was also a great reason to get out of the house during those first weeks! The class is two hours of sharing, learning, and growing. The support you receive from the lactation consultants and other mothers is not something you can find anywhere else. I have told all of my pregnant friends about the class! I hope the class will give others the same encouragement and confidence it gave me.
Emily Shushtari

The decision to breastfeed wasn’t a hard one for me.  After learning about the myriad benefits of breastfeeding for both my baby and me, I knew I wanted to try it.  But not having had much exposure to breastfeeding personally, I didn’t really know what to expect from the experience. Like many new moms, when my son Everett was born, the responsibility of keeping a tiny person alive and healthy weighed heavily on me.  I was a big ball of anxiety, and worrying about feeding him was a big part of that.  Was I producing enough milk? Was he eating enough? As exhausted and sleep-deprived as I was in those first weeks, I would stay up late scouring the internet for answers and finding confusing and conflicting information.

When Everett was five weeks old, I decided to attend the Breastfeeding Friends group at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.  It ended up being a fantastic decision. Having a lactation consultant available to ask questions and provide hands-on support was very helpful, but one of the best parts of the group was the other participants.  It was so encouraging to meet other breastfeeding moms in the same circumFullSizeRender (1)stances that I was, and to find that we all shared many of the same worries and concerns.  And even better, many of these fantastic moms, especially those with slightly older babies, had great advice to offer.  In those very early, overwhelming days of motherhood, it was heartening to hear someone say, “I’ve been there, too. It does get better.” After that first group meeting, my husband told me he wished I’d gone sooner because I came back much more assured.  One of my key take-aways from the group was to trust that my baby would let me know how much and how often he needed to eat.  Another was to trust myself and my own instincts.

I have continued to attend Breastfeeding Friends meetings for the last four months, and it’s something I really look forward to each week.  While I wasn’t sure what to expect from my breastfeeding experience before I had Everett, I now know that breastfeeding can be both hard and extremely rewarding.  It’s also one of the best things I can do for my baby.  We are still going strong at five months of exclusively breastfeeding, and that is definitely thanks in large part to Breastfeeding Friends.
– Lindsey Nguyen Blanch

IMG_7758Just after my daughter turned two-weeks old I started going to the Breast Feeding Friends group. As a first-time mom, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and I had so many questions about breastfeeding. It was so comforting and reassuring to be surrounded by other new moms that truly understood the doubts running through my mind. We were in this together! Each week we supported each other and also had support from an experienced lactation consultant. I became more confident as a breastfeeding mom because of this group and when it came time for me to begin pumping and return to work, I felt ready. I’m so thankful and will never forget the moms that were there for me from the beginning. Cadence is now 4 months old and we’re still exclusively breastfeeding!
-Lori P

About Kristina Tucker, manager of lactation support/milk bank services

I am the manager of lactation support and milk bank services at Texas Children’s Hospital. I help provide a variety of services to support breastfeeding mothers and their infants.
Posted in 101, Breastfeeding, Neonatology, NICU, Parenting, Pavilion for Women

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