Latching on not easiest
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 email@example.com.
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.