Breastfeeding Support Groups: How They Can Help and Where to Find Them

Whether you are just starting to nurse your very first baby, or you’ve been breastfeeding for awhile now, breastfeeding support groups can be extremely helpful to mothers.  Each mom and baby has a unique breastfeeding experience however many moms run into similar challenges at various stages of breastfeeding.  Learning from other moms and sharing your experiences can not only help you towards your breastfeeding goals, but can also build a sense of pride and community with like-minded moms who also care about giving their baby the best nutrition and starting them on a healthy path in life.

The breastfeeding journey should begin during pregnancy when you are gathering information, reading books, talking to your pediatrician, gabbing with veteran moms and taking a breastfeeding class at a local hospital or community center.  As soon as your baby arrives, you’ll have nurses and hopefully a lactation consultant to lean on for a few days while you are in the hospital.

But then the day arrives when you are home with your baby and the responsibility of feeding her on your own is very real.  For some moms, that is a daunting task and can be quite discouraging if things are not going well.  On top of recovering from delivery and being very tired, hormones are rebalancing and emotions are high.  Getting frustrated when breastfeeding isn’t going exactly how you had imagined can lead to major set backs.

If that sounds like your story, it’s time to seek out a breastfeeding support group!

Breastfeeding Support Groups:  How They Can Help and Where to Find Them

Breastfeeding support groups are organized sessions of moms coming together to discuss the benefits, logistics, challenges and joys of breastfeeding.  By making a connection with other moms who are currently breastfeeding, you can get real-time advice on questions you have about breastfeeding and learn ways to improve feedings.  Support groups discuss everything from nursing positions, proper latch and breast pumps, to managing acid reflux, getting your baby to sleep better and how to engage your partner in feedings.  When new moms are talking shop, nothing is off limits and most groups have rules about not passing judgment on other moms. After all, your goals are the same:  to provide the best health for your baby in the most loving way you see fit.

Along with getting the scoop on which stores have the best lactation lounges, peer breastfeeding support groups improve mothers’ mental health and wellbeing by creating a sense of community.  The idea is that your life is better from a suggestion that someone else has given you, and you’ll want to pay it forward and help someone else.  This is the way all major change takes place – in this case it’s a matter of public health for babies, moms and the entire family unit.  Moms gain self-confidence to breastfeed but also pride in being part of a productive environment.  Sometimes all it takes is encouragement to get through a few bumps in the road and who better to help you through it than someone who is walking in your shoes.  Women can develop friendships with other moms who have babies around the same age and live in their neighborhoods.  These lasting relationships can carry over well past the breastfeeding stage as families continue to grow and become more entrenched in their community activities and schools.

Finding a breastfeeding support group is easier than you may think.  Here are some places to start:

La Leche League:  This nonprofit organization is a terrific resource for many breastfeeding topics and also has a database of breastfeeding support groups.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC): This government initiative works within groups and one-on-one to provide breastfeeding support to women on a community level.

Hospitals:  Many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups as an extension of their pre and post natal education.  They may offer an on-staff lactation consultant to answer questions during sessions.

Community Centers:  Community facilities such as YMCAs and religious establishments may offer breastfeeding support groups that are open to members and non-members.

Moms Groups:  Larger neighborhoods often have moms groups.  If there are many new moms in the group, start separate gatherings to talk about breastfeeding and infant care.

Online and Facebook:  If you can’t make it to meetings in person, chat with other moms online.  Some virtual meetings are video and/or audio conferences, while others are text chat-based.  Still others are forums to pose questions and get a variety of answers over time.

If you think you are a lone ranger in breastfeeding, think again.  Breastfeeding can be a team sport if you take advantage of the support in your community.  Don’t go it alone, seek out a breastfeeding support group in your area to not only solidify your commitment to breastfeeding, but to improve your mental wellbeing by connecting with new moms like you.