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to not understand breastfeeding support groups.

(127 Posts)
moogy1a Tue 22-Jan-13 12:04:53

My impression seems to be that you either find bf'ing relatively easy and get on with it, or you find it more or less impossible ( for whatever reason) and either don't attempt it, or realise after a few days it's not gonna happen.
So, what happens at these bf'ing support groups? people seem to go for a few months. Do people sit in a circle and break into a round of applause when your baby's having a feed? Do people who can't b'feed keep going week after week for some form of moral support.
I genuinely want to know what the practical benefits are.

RooneyMara Tue 22-Jan-13 12:07:45

Well I'm on my third baby, HV came round and suggested I go along to one of these despite having no current issues with BF and having BF'd both other children, the second one till he was at school.

I think the idea is you can pop in if you have any concerns, or develop any issues and there might be someone there who knows what they're on about and can solve the problem.

I've never been though so I don't know.

ordinarygull Tue 22-Jan-13 12:08:28

I am taliking nearly 14 years ago now, but it was a bit like a toddler group with a counsellor there if you needed help. I found bf the most difficult thing I've ever done, but persevered through mastitis, bleeding nipples etc, and found it useful to have other people experiencing the same. It also got me out of the house to meet other people with babies of a similar age.
I used to go to a toddler group in the morning, and the support group in the afternoon on Wednesdays, referred to by my father as 'it's tots and tits day'

LemonBreeland Tue 22-Jan-13 12:09:39

They are very helpful if you are having a bad day. I don't agree with the comment about finding it almost impossible. A lot of people with the right help can continue bfing. Myself with DC3 and a few friends that I met through the bfing group. Mayn friends with lots of problems that were helped by

1: talking to others who are going or have been through the same experiences

2: Speaking to a bfing expert who can help sort out whatever problems you are having and put you back on track.

I find the comment about sitting around and breaking into applause when a baby is having a feed, quite rude.

Crawling Tue 22-Jan-13 12:10:17

Not all people who suceed have a easy run I had mastitus twice blocked ducts thrush. over engagement and cracked nipples and still bf 3 children. The point of the groups are that most of the above problems have things you can do to ease your discomfort so you have people who have got through problems advising and supporting new starters who are having problems iyswim.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 22-Jan-13 12:10:38

Me neither BUT if people feel they need them then I'm glad they're available.

camgirl Tue 22-Jan-13 12:11:14

Sharing experiences, getting feedback, discussing minor 'issues' ... making friends. A lot of the breastfeeding experience can be quite alien to women (like me) who have spent most of their lives 'doing' or 'achieving' and I for one needed reassurance that it was normal and OK for a newborn to feed for hours at a time, day and night ... I felt happier knowing I wasn't alone in going through this and felt reassured hearing stories from those who were past the 'worst' - ie. down to a few manageable feeds a day/night. It helped me keep going through the difficult bits (screaming, pulling off, biting etc) and know that these were 'normal' too.

Second time round I considered myself a pretty experienced breastfeeder having fed my first until he was just over two. I had suffered from recurrent mastitis though and asked about this ... BFing counsellor took one look at how I was feeding and sorted the problem, which had caused me weeks of misery the first time round!

cory Tue 22-Jan-13 12:11:30

moogy1a Tue 22-Jan-13 12:04:53
"My impression seems to be that you either find bf'ing relatively easy and get on with it, or you find it more or less impossible ( for whatever reason) and either don't attempt it, or realise after a few days it's not gonna happen."

Not necessarily. Plenty of people find it moderately difficult but persevere. Others hit occasional difficult patches, like mastititis, which they need a bit of support with. Other people may find it physically easy but need a bit of social support because it is not the done thing in their family.

Cakecrumbsinmybra Tue 22-Jan-13 12:11:33

Your perception is pretty off then isn't it? Do you generally think in terms of one extreme or the other or do you accept that there is a middle ground? In the case of bfing, there are loads of people who neither find it easy, nor are in loads of pain, but need help to get it right. I went a couple of times and found it hugely useful, esp when the lovely mw there saw that my DS2 had a tongue tie and snipped it there and then. I imagine that people who go week after week do so because they make friends with others there. Plus your older DC can play with toys, you get a cup of tea made for you and there's always some biscuits.

EverythingslookingRosie Tue 22-Jan-13 12:13:31

A friend of mine went as her DD was getting really upset & seemed uncomfortable during & after feeding. The HV suggested it could be a lactose intolerance so she cut all dairy out of her diet & they are both doing fine now, bf'ing is going really well so they can give really practical help.

I went to the support group before I left the hospital with my DD as she wasn't latching properly and it was very sore. I left feeling much more confident and ready to carry on.

Thumbwitch Tue 22-Jan-13 12:15:11

I haven't used one, and thanks to FB and MN haven't needed to - but if they weren't around and I Didn't have any FB/MN friends who knew anything about bf'ing and problems involved, I'd have LOVED a bf'ing support group to help me work out how to deal with some of the problems!

Both DSs had tonguetie, had them both snipped. Both affected their feeding in different ways (DS1 - long and slow, DS2, fast and refluxy) - support helped me deal with DS2 being different and working out ways to reduce the reflux.
With both DSs, I have had occasional blocked ducts - bloody painful and can lead to mastitis - support helped me find a way to help unblock the ducts (change of position seemed to be the best with DS2)

I have a strong drive to continue to bf and am lucky that so far I have been able to, despite the minor setbacks - but the support is invaluable.

emsyj Tue 22-Jan-13 12:16:08

The practical benefits are that a lady who works at the Children's Centre makes you a cup of tea and a biscuit, and if you have older children another lady will play with him or her (they have great toys and a fab play kitchen there) whilst you have a good moan with other knackered mums about how much hard work babies are and hopefully make some friends. I met the loveliest friend ever at a bf support group, it was worth going just for that.

Also bf gets tiring, especially if your baby won't take a bottle and feeds constantly. Sometimes you want to say, 'this is really shit' and have someone else say, 'yes it is, but remember why you're doing it', or 'yes it's hard now but it gets easier' or whatever. It's also nice to feel that you're not alone - that other mums have babies who won't take a bottle, who feed hourly through the night etc. It's moral support. There are groups where you can get practical support too, from a support worker or health visitor, although I've never been to one of those.

I don't agree with your assessment that bf is either plain sailing or too hard and doesn't work out, either. There's a whole range of experience between the two, and there are issues that can arise later down the line that you may want advice on, such as mastitis, blocked ducts, loss of supply, oversupply etc etc...

2blessed Tue 22-Jan-13 12:16:59

I'm going to my first session on friday. I've had both really good and bad days breastfeeding and am pleased there is this type of informal support available.

Pandemoniaa Tue 22-Jan-13 12:17:04

YABU. It's not a question of "easy = keep going, difficult = don't bf at all." Suggesting that people merely sit around applauding a baby being bf is both uninformed and silly.

Looking back over many years, I wish I'd gone to a bf support group with ds1. I did find bf easy, as it happens, but 6 months down the line got a shocking case of mastitis. My doctor prescribed antibiotics and assured me I had to give up bf. On reflection, I suspect I didn't. So a group of like-minded women who had probably gone through similar experiences would have been nice to know.

Osmiornica Tue 22-Jan-13 12:18:02

I went quite a few times to our local one when I had my first. I found breastfeeding incredibly difficult and painful for months - a mix of bad latch and thrush. Going to the groups meant I could ask questions of other mums and the bfc/peer supporters and see what advice they could offer. The gp I went to see told me to quit and hv said there was no problem she could see. I know in ours some went week after week as they made friends there and would just like going to chat.

GanglyGiraffe Tue 22-Jan-13 12:18:10

I went to one just after DD was because she would only feed I one very inconvenient position.

When I got there, I was the only person who had turned up. The breastfeeding lady gave me a booklet (that is available online) with all the different feeding positions. We then just a brief chat.

She suggested that I come back next week, when get regulars should be back. However there was no point as DD was feeding fine after that . So I think they are good for a one off drop in, but like you OP I have no idea why you would keep going back.

curiousuze Tue 22-Jan-13 12:18:41

Well I for instance have found breastfeeding very easy and painless - till now, because we've both got thrush. Now feeding is painful and his latch is shit because he's got a sore mouth. So I'm going to a bf group tomorrow to see if there's anything they can suggest to make things easier until we get better. Just because you can breastfeed easily doesn't mean you don't face setbacks and need help.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 22-Jan-13 12:19:29

The premise of your OP is totally wrong. I found bfing my daughter pretty easy but still had issues crop up along the way. When I had my DS he had tongue tie and even after it was treated was not as good a feeder as his sister. Also things like mastitis, engorgement as your reducing feeds, blisters on nipples, how to express, bfing and going back to work, crop up as you're going along. I for one would have found it very helpful to had a support group to go to chat through these issues. There is a whole gamut of experience between no problems at all and finding bfing impossible. Also sounds a nice way to meet like minded mums at the same stage of motherhood.

I formula fed my first two children, because of lack of information, poor advice and little confidence. I tried but gave up within 3 days. My midwife and hv told me I wouldn't be able to satisfy my babies hunger without topping up with formula. hmm

I breastfed my 3rd and 4th children for 16 months each, after lots of research and having loads more confidence in my ability as a mother in general. I did not find it particularly easy with dc3, but we persisted because she refused bottles. I spent many hours crying trying to perfect position and technique. Dc4 climbed up my front and latched on at birth. I was breastfeeding before I had delivered the placenta. It was easy.

I grew up without ever seeing a single person breast feeding in real life. I thought it was something 'hippies' did. I wasn't breastfed and no one in my family did it. My mil thought it was creepy.

I have never been to a breast feeding support group, but I should imagine it would be very helpful to watch other mothers techniques and positions they use. To chat to other mums about what's 'normal' when breast feeding. (Cluster feeding, feeding every hour, runny poo, no poo for days, sore nipples etc) Some people looked at me like a freak when I was breastfeeding my 1yr old, and it would have been nice to go somewhere I felt comfortable.

<sticks head above parapet>

They exist so you can sit round listening to how amaaaazing it is, and gasp in horror at the tale of the 'former member' of said group who was seen to put "mixed feeding" on a form.

<retreats>

wibblyjelly Tue 22-Jan-13 12:22:46

Its there as support, and to share experiences. 4 month old ds and I still go, despite having to give up bf at around week 12. The counselors asked me to carry on going so I could share my experiences, and help support new mums.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 22-Jan-13 12:23:02

Also bfing is often exhausting as you can't share feeding the baby with your partner and that's hard, especially for night feeds. It's a pretty thankless task generally so is nice to have support of others saying "you're doing well", or "I'm going through the same".

OneSliceOfSwissCheese Tue 22-Jan-13 12:23:51

I would fall in between your categories OP. I found it really really hard to breastfeed initially. I struggled on (at a very low ebb) for 6 weeks and then, after having the right support, I fed my baby without further issue for 10 months.

I went to the support group in the first few months. It was great to talk to other women going through the same experience and ask advice. It also had a social aspect and I made some friends.

KenLeeeeeee Tue 22-Jan-13 12:24:27

Mine was invaluable with ds1 and ds2. I had minor problems establishing breastfeeding and lots of wobbles along the way in how much faith I had in it, but the encouragement and information I picked up from other mums and from the midwife and health visitors who ran the groups made all the difference. Once I got past the stage of needing the help, it was just nice to go along each week and have a couple of hours sitting round, chatting with the friends I'd made.

Since moving away from the area and having two more children, I haven't tried out another bf group or any form of parent and child group. I can't imagine settling in and enjoying them like I did with the one back home.

pomdereplay Tue 22-Jan-13 12:30:21

Your perception is ridiculous. I had a horrendous time with feeding in the early stages, my lowest point was my daughter thrashing and refusing the breast at 10 weeks old only for me to be told by a disinterested midwife 'just give her formula, you've lasted longer than most mums'. We got there in the end with no help from medical authorities (apart from a private Lactation Consultant!) but peer support and organisations like La Leche League were invaluable in helping me get around my anxiety related to feeding. DD is now 11 months old and against all odds happily still breastfeeding.
My experience of breastfeeding groups was that they weren't a self-congratulatory love-in full of smug mummies, but just a collection of women there to help and support each other through feeding issues big and small. Oh, and combi-feeders were very welcome. Shock horror. hmm

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