Breastfeeders (Not So) Anonymous
Posted By: Jennifer Johnson
I didn't grow up around breastfeeding moms. In fact, I grew up making formula bottles for my little sisters.
I looked both ways before crossing the street to a small house on the corner of the street. My daughter was bundled up in my arms.There were several cars parked on the side of the house, but it was so quiet and discreet-looking. If there wasn't a sign posted on the door saying "La Leche League meets here" I may have questioned if I was in the right place. Before I opened the door I chuckled to myself, thinking of my husband's joking comment before I left: "Have fun at your Breastfeeders Anonymous meeting."
My daughter was the oldest baby there. All of the other babies ranged from still in utero to a month old. I came for support and answers to questions but I was surprised when I found myself giving advice to many of the women there.
There were questions about latch, how often a baby should be eating and how you know if your baby is getting enough milk. I knew all of those answers. But I was surprised when I learned a new fact.
I knew that my daughter gets my antibodies, and she hasn't gotten sick yet, likely because she's been exclusively breastfed for so long. But I didn't know that my body literally makes antibodies for germs I'm exposed to and puts it in my breastmilk right away.
This came up when a little girl was coughing in the room. Her mom told us her cough was chronic, and not contagious and the leader of the LLL group told us even if it was contagious, our babies wouldn't get sick because we were breastfeeding.
She told us about a study where breastfeeding moms expressed their milk, and it was tested for an antibody. Then the women smelled some kind of germ, and expressed again. Their bodies had already begun making anitibodies for that germ and it was in their milk! Amazing!
She said because of this, when we're out with out babies and someone is sick around us, our breastmilk will be giving our babies the "cure" to the sickness around us. This however, isn't helpful if grandma or someone else takes our babies out without us, and they are exposed to germs we aren't around to catch and make antibodies for. So the key is sticking together.
I had no idea it worked this way. If I had known I probably would have been less paranioid about taking my daughter out in public when she was small. Granted, we did travel to NYC, Atlanta and Salt Lake all within a month but I guess that's why she didn't get sick!
I asked a couple of questions about cluster feeding and supply, but we all chuckled when the leader said you could ask any stranger on the street if my baby is eating enough and anyone would agree she's a very healthy, very large six month old.
When women asked about finding the time to pump when it seems as though their babies are attached to them 24/7 I suggested pumping one side while they nursed on the other. It's what I did, and it helped me express more milk, boost my supply and build a stash.
At the end of the meeting our leader gave a babywearing demonstration and I learned how a ring sling worked. My daughter loved it!
Before I left I asked if the group of women normally has such young babies and was told the group varies from all pregnant women, to women nursing toddlers. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
I signed the roll last, before I left, since I came in late and was surprised to see that it was all of the women's first time attending.
I'm not sure if I'll go to the group every month, but I'm glad I went at least once. I'm sure I'll go again at some point and learn something new again. It was fun, and something I'd recommend to any mom.
Have you found support at a local breastfeeding group?12:00pm on Tuesday February 1
Thanks for the post. I will share it with my sister. She recently had a baby (3 weeks ago) and due to a severe breast infection had to start giving her baby supplemental feedings (formula). Her husband does not support breastfeeding and wants her to stop. She wants to keep it up but needs a group like this to give her confidence...
I think the weekly support group I attended was a significant source of encouragement and knowledge in our first few months. Now we go on occasion to give back!