I used to facilitate a breastfeeding drop in group. I never knew what to expect or who would show up. Sometimes clients pop in for a quick follow up, but often I’ve never met the moms before. They are referred to the group by their Drs, their doulas, the acupuncturist or their friends. This is a glimpse into a recent drop in.
After moms straggle in with their babies somewhere between 10:20 and 10:45. They get settled in the comfy chairs and I ask them to introduce themselves and their babies. They admire each other’s babies. A mother with a 3- month- old marvels at the smallness of another mom’s 8-day-old baby. She congratulates her for making it out of the house to get support with such a tiny baby.. I ask the mothers to talk about why they are here. Here is what I heard last week.
“I just want to make sure I’m doing it right.”
“I want to make sure my baby is gaining weight.”
“My nipples are really sore.”
“My baby has a hard time latching and he’s really fussy at the breast.”
“I’m using nipples shields and I want to breastfeed without them.”
Babies begin to get restless and fussy. I assure them it’s totally fine to breastfeed in this setting! A question is asked about latching. All eyes are on me as I bring out my knitted breast and demonstrate for all to see. I can see mothers trying to replicate the technique I demonstrated.
There is concern expressed about using some formula. Everyone is quick to assure the mom that any amount of breast milk is great and the important thing is to feed the baby.
There is a discussion about milk supply and how to know baby is getting enough.
More questions.. I give general answers. If a mother is having a complex breastfeeding problem, I recommend a consultation with an IBCLC. She can make an appointment with me if desired.
A mom shares that she isn’t getting enough sleep and she doesn’t know what to do. Three other moms nod their heads with empathy and give her suggestions. I merely listen, because it seems the mom is getting exactly what she needs.
A conversation about pumping ensues. One mom says.. “I have a love/hate relationship with my pump!” There is laughter and more pumping discussion.
A baby poops loudly which results in more laughter.
A mother asks me to help with latching her baby so that it’s not painful. I help her make a few adjustments and she looks up at me and says, “That feels better! Thank you!”
A mother confesses she doesn’t know how to determine if her baby is swallowing. So I sit with her and interpret what’s happening as her baby nurses. Another mom listens in, then asks me to watch her with her baby as well.
Every few minutes a baby is weighed. When it’s good news all of the mothers rejoice.One mom cries after learning her baby didn’t gain enough weight—other moms cry with her or grow silent. One reaches out and gently pats her back. They always seem to know the right thing to do.
A mom asks me to check if her baby has thrush. I don’t do oral exams in drop in groups, but this baby took one look at me and stuck out her tongue and showed me the thick white patch!
When one baby cries loudly, the other babies look worried and begin to whimper. I hear things like, “Yes, that baby is sad, but his mother is helping him.” and “That is a loud sound and it’s scaring you.” and “I’m right here, you are ok.” I marvel at the intuition and skill of these first-time moms.
Babies fuss and cry with diaper changes. A mom goes to use the restroom and hands me her baby to tend. He smiles and coos at me.
It’s 11:30… time to end the meeting. But the moms linger… asking one more question, enjoying the company of other moms and babies. There are hugs and word of encouragement.
When they leave they look a little happier, a little lighter and more confident. They have a plan. They know who to call if they need more help. They entered the space as strangers and as they leave, I hear 2 of the moms exchange phone numbers.
I hope they are all doing well. I hope I see them next week.