Last week I went to visit South Cumbria Breast-Feeding Support. They meet up in Ulverston, Kendal and Windermere and I went along to the Kendal meeting.
South Cumbria Breast-Feeding Support Group
This free meeting was in a cozy room at the Ghyllside Neighbourhood Centre. The new parents, both mums and dads were sitting round on colourful couches and been bags with coffees in hand. They were all having a good old natter and sharing stories with each other. Babes were in arms, some feeding, some sleeping and older children ran between. The children having an especially good time with all the toys that were available there.
Ann started the group to support new mums. She says “It is awful for a mum who plans to breast feed but then she finds feeding difficult or finds she can’t do it. The group is here to help those mums.”
Ann talked about the grief, depression and frustration a new mum can feel when she is trying to feed her baby and it is not going to plan. Ann’s group is all about finding ways to help mums get what they want.
The group is not for champion breast feeders. It is not a pack of klicky mums; it is for any mum who wants a little bit of support in one-way or another. Some of the mums at the group are exclusively breast-feeding, some are combination feeding, and some are expressing. Ann says every mum is very, very welcome!
“Breast-feeding is a learnt skill and it’s very hard to learn when you are at home on your own with a new baby.” Says Ann “In the past we’d be in a community where you would see elder women and neighbours breast-feeding, it would be the norm to learn tips and techniques from them. Sharing the experience of what breast-feeding is like and what being a new mother is like, is very powerful.”
Her group is a recreation of this type of community, giving mothers a space to share stories and tips and help each other out.
Breast-Feeding should not be Painful!
According to Ann it is a common misconception that breast-feeding needs to be painful. Most of the mums come along to the group if they are finding it so. But Ann stresses that Breast-feeding does not need to be painful!
Anne says it is quite common for mother’s to have discomfort in the beginning. A little at the start is natural as the hormones settle in. But anything after that is an indication that something is not quite right, and toe-curling pain should certainly not be happening!
Often the solution is as easy as changing baby’s feeding position. Ann will work through the latching issue with the mum, and a big difference can often be made with some simple techniques. Sometimes it may be a little more complex and a bit more intervention might be needed in fixing an issue like tongue-tie.
I asked Ann what her top piece of advice would be to new mums.
She said she would like to unpick the word advice. They don’t see themselves as giving advice at the Breast-Feeding Support Group, and they never tell mums what they should do.
At Ann’s groups they offer suggestions, and ask mums to take what is useful to them and bin the rest. Ann is emphatic that there is no single way of doing things. She says this is often why it gets confusing to new mums when they talk to experts because each of them is telling them something different. She says all of these suggestions might help and they might not. As a mum you need to try them out and see what works.
Ann wants to remind you that you are the expert on your baby. She sees a lot of babies so she knows what kind of things are likely to help if a mum is facing a challenge, but no one tip is right for everyone and the mum is always the expert.
Ann says “Trust what nature has programmed us to do and trust the process.”
Society puts a lot of pressure on us to get baby into a routine, but it is totally normal for a human baby to want to be held a lot and fed frequently. Some babies will feed every three hours but other babies will want to feed more than that. Some babies will be happy being put down, others won’t. Ann says you are not making a rod for your own back by listening to your baby’s needs. You are the expert!
It was a real pleasure visiting this meeting and I loved listening to Ann’s wonderful, empowering tips. It is exactly what every new parent needs!
Go to a Breast-Feeding Support Group
If you’d like to check out one of her groups they meet at Ulverston library on a Tuesday, the Ghyllside Neighbourhood Centre in Kendal on a Thursday and the Pheonix Centre in Windermere on a Friday. You are welcome to visit while you are still pregnant or pop along once baby has arrived. If you want to talk to Ann, send her a message on her Facebook page.