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If you read my posts frequently, you know one thing I talk a lot about is support. I’m always hammering home that support is key to success. But HOW do you find support? Where do you find support? Today, I’m going to share with you the 4 facets of a solid support team.
1. Healthcare Support
Doctors and nurses are typically the first people we go to when we are experiencing breastfeeding challenges. We trust our healthcare providers to help educate and inform us, and help us troubleshoot challenges. Unfortunately, not all providers are on the same page with breastfeeding. Some are more educated than others, and therefore support from our health professionals ranges anywhere from horrible to excellent. It’s no wonder, then, that healthcare providers are perhaps the most influential individuals when it comes to supporting a breastfeeding mother. A mother’s confidence and success hinges greatly on the skill and knowledge of her healthcare team. What are some ways to ensure you have a strong support team among your healthcare providers?
Baby Friendly Hospital
Delivering in a Baby Friendly Hospital is a great way to get breastfeeding off to a healthy start. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative encourages hospitals to meet a certain set of criteria to help improve breastfeeding initiation rates. Check this page to see if your hospital meets baby friendly criteria!
Okay, so you have a baby friendly hospital that helps you initiate breastfeeding. But how do you keep going once you’re home? Odds are you will be seeing your pediatrician quite a bit in the first couple of weeks. Ensuring your child’s doctor is supportive of breastfeeding is so important. Sign up to receive your FREE list of interview questions to help you determine if you have a breastfeeding friendly physician.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant has undergone hours of training and education to support breastfeeding mothers. My mother in law fondly refers to the lactation consultant who supported her as “the goddess of milk”. IBCLCs typically coordinate with your child’s primary care physician to create a comprehensive feeding care plan to address any struggles you may be facing. Whether you’re dealing with sore nipples or weight gain troubles, a quality IBCLC is an amazing resource.
2. Friends and Community
Having friends who support your parenting journey is so crucial for getting through the difficult times. For me, it was hard to find a support network of friends that had been where I was and could relate. Luckily, I found myself at a La Leche League meeting where I developed friendships with other mothers who had amazing perspectives and tips to share. Sometimes, just knowing you’re not alone in your struggles is enough to keep you going.
Family support is so unbelievably important. Your family members are the ones who are with you day in and day out, watching you struggle. So often, family means well, but offers uninformed support that can unintentionally sabotage breastfeeding. Taking your significant others along to breastfeeding classes and support groups can help them obtain a deeper understanding of breastfeeding and therefore provide more understanding support.
You’re probably aware that in the USA, there are federal protections in place to support breastfeeding mothers. Having a conversation with your Human Resources Department and supervisor before returning to work is important for developing a plan to support you after your return. Check out this Guide for breastfeeding mothers who are returning to work. Now, of course, this is the support network dream team… sometimes it’s hard to build a perfect network, but you can likely find a few key supporters to love you through the ups and downs of motherhood, including breastfeeding. Who are your key supporters?