Today's prompt: How have you helped another mom to reach her breastfeeding goals? Have you supported a friend, started advocacy, etc?
Our best story in regards to helping other mothers reach their breastfeeding goals was made possible thanks to a unique circumstance in which we were teaching our Bradley Method® classes while we were pregnant, and then with a newborn in tow.
Three of our class groups got to see breastfeeding as "normal" in the active sense. By the time our fourth Sweet Pea was born, I had learned how to nurse comfortably without using a nursing cover. I could do so without showing skin - which is where my comfort zone is. I did not ask permission from our students to feed our baby, or make a big deal about explaining that she would be coming to class with us and apologizing that I would have to feed her. If she was hungry, she ate. And class went on.
The mothers-to-be in our classes got to see someone else breastfeeding without apology or any shame in doing so in front of an audience - literally. They were there to learn, they saw that their teacher could teach *and* attend to her baby. Their class went along without interruption.
The partners got to see a husband completely and whole-heartedly support the MotherBaby. How many partners might cringe at the thought of their wife's breast out for public display? Seeing Coach Bruss treat the breast as the best thing that could be offered to our newborn, seeing how he treated breastfeeding as something normal and beneficial, even beautiful, showed these partners that there was nothing to be feared from breastfeeding. Many moms commented to us after the fact that his casual attitude towards nursing, and doing so in public(!), gave their partners confidence in the whole process, and helped them understand that nursing in public was no big deal.
In effect, breastfeeding was modeled and normalized for the twenty-four couples that took our classes from September 2011 through May 2012. There are lots of great stories of mothers who had rough starts and triumphant successes because they wanted to make breastfeeding work.
We follow the philosophy, "feed the baby", that our IBCLC taught us. If and when those mamas that struggled with breastfeeding had to supplement with their own breastmilk, formula or donor milk, we reassured them that the effort was worth it and that before they knew it, they would be feeding from the breast. All twenty-four of those mothers went on to breastfeed for at least twelve months. Some are still breastfeeding those babies today, and I still am, too! Now they know they are not alone in their choice to breastfeed a toddler. And Coach Bruss is still cool with that, so the partners receive and see the message, once again, that it is not a big deal.
Even though that circumstance of modeling breastfeeding in class was unique, we always have and will continue to offer other means of support. In class and during the postpartum period we reassure them that there is a learning curve and that things will get better. We remind them that although pain during the first few weeks is common, it is not normal, and encourage them to get help early and often until breastfeeding is comfortable.
Since we are not certified lactation consultants, any questions are referred to the amazing IBCLC's and support groups in our area. We also have a standard email that lists the resources from our lending library and the reliable on-line resources that we know of that they can refer to for professional help.
Helping other families embrace breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding aspects of being Bradley Method® instructors. We love seeing a roomful of mothers feeding their babies, and the partners right behind them supporting the MotherBaby. It's one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
How about you - how do you support breastfeeding?
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