Latch­ing on not eas­i­est

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

When a dozen women met to si­mul­ta­ne­ously breast­feed their ba­bies at Kaizen Cafe last Fri­day for the Big Latch On, many were cel­e­brat­ing tri­umph over ad­ver­sity.

Half were mem­bers of La Leche League Mana, a group of mums who meet to sup­port each other through breast­feed­ing and other dif­fi­cult as­pects of par­ent­ing.

Hav­ing a baby can be a freaky, dis­ori­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, group leader Lor­raine Tay­lor says, es­pe­cially for ca­reer women used to be­ing in con­trol.

‘‘ It’s like ‘ what the hell hap­pened? I’m not in con­trol any­more’,’’ she says. ‘‘You don’t get a man­ual, you don’t know whether to trust your in­stincts.’’

Moth­er­hood can be par­tic­u­larly hard if women lack fam­ily help, Ms Tay­lor says.

‘‘Sup­port groups pro­vide that en­vi­ron­ment for women, they pro­vide the sis­ters and aun­ties and that wis­dom.’’

La Leche League, which started in the United States in 1956, does not subscribe to the judg­men­tal ‘‘breast is best’’ phi­los­o­phy, Ms Tay­lor says. Each woman needs to de­cide what is best for her and her fam­ily. ‘‘Ob­vi­ously we be­lieve breast­feed­ing is re­ally im­por­tant, [but] not ev­ery­one’s go­ing to breast­feed, whether by choice or by diffi- culty,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s not as easy as it seems some­times.’’

Ninety-eight per cent of Kiwi moth­ers ini­ti­ate breast­feed­ing, but af­ter a cou­ple of weeks that rate plum­mets, and af­ter six months just 10 per cent of moth­ers breast­feed, Ms Tay­lor says.

La Leche League tries to help women who get dis­cour­aged when breast­feed­ing doesn’t work out, she says.

‘‘It’s of­ten con­fi­dence, they need to trust them­selves and their baby.’’

Ms Tay­lor fa­cil­i­tates dis­cus­sion groups in Plim­mer­ton and Tawa once a month and of­ten takes calls from mums dur­ing the week. Com­mon ques­tions con­cern baby sleep rou­tines, sore nip­ples, milk sup­ply and how of­ten to feed a baby.

‘‘We’re not ex­perts, we’re just mums. We cer­tainly don’t have all the an­swers but it’s a good place to come for pos­i­tive in­for­ma­tion.’’

Women of­ten en­joy the group so much they be­come firm friends with fel­low mem­bers, or go on to be­come lead­ers, as Ms Tay­lor did eight years ago af­ter her youngest fin­ished breast­feed­ing.

La Leche League group meet­ings are held monthly at Plim­mer­ton Pavilion and Tawa Com­pass Health. Contact Lor­raine Tay­lor on 0274 363 238 or lll­mana@xtra.co.nz.

Mum mo­ment: Tessa Balan feeds daugh­ter Josephine Kelly, 22 months, at Kaizen cafe’s Big Latch On cel­e­bra­tion last Fri­day. Ms Balan is a La Leche League mem­ber train­ing to be­come a group leader.

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