I was just talking to a dear colleague for whom I am grateful to be friends with, the wonderful Amber McCann & Nourish Breastfeeding Support. We were discussing the upcoming ILCA conference and the business of breastfeeding, both locally and nationally. Part of our discussion was on the business of education and helping mamas grow their confidence and wisdom before baby arrives. The model for education can be both face to face; through class time and instruction, or online via email and social media. Knowledge is power, as the expression goes. So how do we, as educators, grow that knowledge base for expectant mothers, and how can we expand our reach so that your transition to new motherhood is a smooth one?
As both an IBCLC and a childbirth educator & doula, I know all too well though how few families seek out empowering childbirth & breastfeeding education.
I live in the metro area of NYC. I love teaching with Birth Day Presence. I love their model of normal, Lamaze based childbirth education and hands on fun while learning. I am grateful that they are a strong conduit of knowledge in the NYC area and that their classes are consistently full with families eager to learn.
But are enough women turning to independent education? I don’t think so. What I do know, and see repeatedly, is that those women who do not seek good prenatal education have a greater likelihood of feeling overwhelmed and isolated. I know this because they call me desperate for help and support.
A solid network of education, support and resources should be cultivated prior to baby’s arrival. This will help mom navigate those first weeks of baby blues and part partum healing. Not all mothers, mind you, have a difficult transition. One of the many benefits to consider however is not just the knowledge base mom will take into birthing and breastfeeding, but also the relationship she has now established! Wise Woman to New Mother! She has her tribe, someone she can now turn to post partum to seek answers and support. As Amber says, “a friend in her pocket”!
Social media and online support can be a wonderful conduit for support and wisdom. Sixteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my first, I researched something on the then pretty new internet. I brought it to the attention of my OB, who I left for midwives. You know why? He scoffed and said, “are you going to trust some quack you find off the internet?” and immediately dismissed my researching things outside his care. (That quack was Ina May Gaskin). Well, I did trust what I had read. Those were my instincts kicking in, my learning to trust myself, my bullshit radar (which is a whole other blog piece for another day!).
Seek out advice online from reputable IBCLC businesses and online communities! There are many wonderful resources with excellent professionals happy to help you find your way. As a La Leche League leader, the concept of “mother to mother” support is still, in my opinion, one of the best conduits of post partum sisterhood out there! And now that “mother to mother” care can be found online, on many a Facebook page, blog, Twitter or Listserv. It’s not always easy getting out as a new mother. Making a monthly meeting can be a challenge, though I highly recommend my weekly support group, The Breastfeeding Cafe (we’re on a brief break for summer, email for schedules).
It all comes back to education and support! Whether it’s private or group prenatal classes (each has its advantages), a private lactation consult in the comfort of your home, an online consult via email or even a Twitter chat (#bfchat #bfcafe) — all are great ways to stay connected to a professional who only wants the best for you — normal, healthy birthing which leads to normal, healthy breastfeeding!
If you’re in the NYC and Hudson Valley area and need resources for birthing and breastfeeding, give us a shout and check out our Breastfeeding Arts Facebook page. And I am sure Amber would love to be a resource for you if you’re in the Maryland, DC area, so check her out too, Nourish Breastfeeding. Nothing beats hands on, face to face, sisterhood & support. But if that can’t be your first line of defense, Amber and I both would love to talk with you online. So reach out and get the support your need.
Love & Blessings,