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.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 22-Jan-13 12:31:26

I found it next to impossible. I went to a BFing support group where I was given lots of help with how to latch the baby on right. Then a BF advisor in the group checked for tongue tie and it turned out my baby had quite a severe one. After the tie was cut, I could BF no problem and am still doing so now, 16 months later. So if it hadn't been for the group I wouldn't have been able to do that.

Perhaps the term "support group" is what is confusing you? Mine was much more like a drop in clinic or advice group, and while I did chat with the other mothers (and make some friends, which was a bonus), really the purpose of the group was to seek advice.

I must say I found the one I went to very helpful as I was not quite sure if I was "doing it right" and also was looking for general moral support (multiple problems, small prem baby, low milk supply, Raynaud's of my nipples, back at fulltime work from 3 months).

I BF (never exclusively, as my milk supply was too low) for 15 months, and was grateful for the support (only went to the group a couple of times right at the beginning but it increased my determination to carry on).

GirlOutNumbered Tue 22-Jan-13 12:32:13

I went with both of mine, it was nice to be able to chat about the different experiences we had and I also had help when I was unsure about DS2 only feeding from one side, he was very different to DS1.

After getting my questions answered I kept going as I made friends, pretty much like any other baby club really.

SwitchedtoEatingCheese Tue 22-Jan-13 12:32:15

At the one I went to you got your ironing done (20 itens a week for 10 weeks), they made your breakfast and entertqained older siblings.

What's not to like??

SwitchedtoEatingCheese Tue 22-Jan-13 12:32:43

they obviously never gave spelling lessons though smile

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 12:34:15

I've always wondered too...
Bit like having a group for people who use cloth nappies. Or who control cry. Or some other parenting option...

Breastfeeding to me was such a minor part of the motherhood experience... But I understand that for many people it is very important, so I accept that I am probably being unreasonable.

There just seems to be a lot of angst about breastfeeding.
I hate hearing mothers who can't do it, or who choose not to do it, feeling guilty. Your body, your choice right?

HumphreyCobbler Tue 22-Jan-13 12:34:25

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.

this is rubbish. have you not read the above posts listing ways in which people used these groups?

I went to one. I hated it. Trying to get ds latched on when he was having a screaming shitfit cos he was over stimulated and knackered cos they thought he was hungry was so Embarrassing. Another time they couldn't believe that he was asleep and eating. Until they heard him swallowing. I just felt stupid because even though ds got the hang of breast feeding quickly and we had no problems I never felt comfortable. I would fall asleep when feeding as would he and I never felt safe. I stopped going when I switched to formula.
When we have another I want to try to breast feed again but next time round ill have mumsnet so I already feel more confident that I can ask questions and get help without feeling like a twat. Disclaimer I think I may have had mild pnd which contributed to my feelings of complete inadequacy when ds was a baby.

Bakingtins Tue 22-Jan-13 12:34:31

The benefits are a nice cup of tea, someone who can offer advice on hand (ours has a NCT BF counsellor and a MW in attendance) and other mums to chat to. Most mums who give up breastfeeding say they would like to have carried on for longer if their issues/problems could have been addressed. The majority of women will be somewhere between your two extremes of finding it easy or giving up immediately, and for many a bit of practical and moral support makes a massive difference to how long they are able to BF. I got a lot of help at our local group when I had problems feeding DS1, with DS2 I went along mainly for the social aspect and to offer a bit of moral support myself. At any other baby group in my area I was the only person who breastfed past a few weeks and there I DID get stared at whilst feeding. Of course there is no "round of applause" apart from the encouragement people need to persevere through problems and try to find a solution - and what is wrong with that?

emsyj Tue 22-Jan-13 12:34:39

"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. "

It's a shame you found that to be the case - it's not something I've ever experienced. I have been to dozens of support group sessions when DD was little and I never ever once heard anyone either proclaim bf to be 'amaaaaaaazing' (or any other knobbish type stuff) or express any opinion whatsoever about another mother's feeding methods. In fact, the pretty much universal aim for the people at the group seemed to be to have a good moan about bf and how exhausting the whole thing was.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 22-Jan-13 12:35:02

there is angst about breastfeeding because for some people it is very hard to do.

I know some people feel lots of pressure to breast feed etc, but in my experience I never, ever not once received and criticism for bottle feeding. I did however receive lots and lots of horrible comments regarding me breastfeeding. For example, I had a mum tell me it was perverted to breast feed my son. Some one else told me I was selfish for doing it past 6 months. My mil told me it made her skin crawl. So, if a few mums at a breast feeding group had wanted to tell me I was amazing, it would have been quite nice actually!

Angelico Tue 22-Jan-13 12:35:29

YABU. BFing has good periods and bad periods. For me first month was fine but second was hell because of recurrent blocked ducts. Somehow just talking to other people about it made it a bit easier. I was on the verge of jacking BFing in if the blockages didn't stop but knowing I would be going to the group in a few days and able to get some advice / sympathy / welcome distraction meant I stuck at it - which got me through the tough few weeks. (No blocked ducts since and DD is now 4 months).

They also are a good way of meeting people with young babies, especially when you are a first time mum. AND they organise special events like Christmas parties which are great fun smile

JassyRadlett Tue 22-Jan-13 12:37:51

Your perception is pretty off, really. There are lots of women - many of whom I met at breastfeeding support sessions - who are having a variety of problems breastfeeding but are determined to fix those problems if possible and continue breastfeeding.

I was one of them. DS could barely latch for the first few days so we ended up with a mix of cup-feeding expressed milk and breastfeeding before we found a latch that he could manage, and were then able to adapt it. Then it was about dealing with the latch itself as I was finding it incredibly painful, and later identifying why he was breaking off from feeding screaming at exactly seven minutes into a feed, despite still being hungry.

The lactation consultant I'd had at my NCT classes ran the local NHS breastfeeding group, and the support and advice I had from her is the reason I'm still breastfeeding my son at 16 months.

The groups I went to were almost entirely made up of women who were struggling with some aspect of feeding but didn't look on breastfeeding as a binary state of 'it's easy, or you don't do it'. There's lots of us in the middle group.

Mintyy Tue 22-Jan-13 12:38:13

Seriously? You can't imagine what goes on in a breast feeding support group?? You must have a very low level of intelligence then.

Angelico Tue 22-Jan-13 12:38:22

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.

^^ That would be crap but in my experience it's individual mums who imagine that's what others would do. I have a friend who mix feeds and the BFing group leader told her to keep coming along for the laugh but she felt a bit odd about it. It's a shame really because no one would give a shiny shit that she mix feeds.

Happy your MIL sounds like an absolute charmer!

EauRouge Tue 22-Jan-13 12:44:32

Well for a start there is shitloads of cake.

Secondly there is an environment where you can moan about lack of sleep, fiddly toddlers, general knackeredness etc without anyone ever saying 'why don't you just give them a bottle' or 'why don't you just wean'.

Thirdly it's a place you can go where you don't feel like the odd one out. For some women this is more of a big deal, other women care less. But if you are the only one you know who is breastfeeding (whatever the age of the child) then it's nice to know what's normal and chat to someone else who is also breastfeeding.

I've been to groups where there are mixed feeders and formula feeders and they were not burnt at the stake.

Also there is cake.

Angelico this was exactly what happened. I went home and cried. I had a terrible time with bfing both my DDs (although I mixed fed both for 6 months) and even ended up putting DD1 in hospital aged 5 days because I starved her through my BFing failure (the words of the Dr on the ward) sad.

I can't live with my failure. I though the support group might help do things differently with DD2, but it was not to be.

carabos Tue 22-Jan-13 12:48:00

My HV asked me to go along to my local group to share my experience of bfing beyond 6 months - DS1 was bf for 9 months and DS2 for 27 months. She thought that other bfing mums would be interested in what happens when you bf longer term.

cory Tue 22-Jan-13 12:50:06

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 12:34:15

"There just seems to be a lot of angst about breastfeeding.
I hate hearing mothers who can't do it, or who choose not to do it, feeling guilty. Your body, your choice right? "

And how does that help those of us whose choice is then made difficult by issues outside our control (in my case, undiagnosed SN)? Your body, your choice is fine when the choice actually works. But harder if it doesn't. And hardest of all when you don't know what is going wrong, if it's the feeding or something else.

TroublesomeEx Tue 22-Jan-13 12:51:07

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.

Well those who find it easy don't go to them.

There are those who find it more difficult and would rather not "realise after a few days it's not gonna happen" and benefit from the support.

I do find threads like this rather confused. I was one of those who found it easy and so I've never been to one. But I can imagine what they do and what others might get out of it.

Can you really not, OP?

EauRouge Tue 22-Jan-13 12:52:02

Also worth mentioning that not all BF groups are equal. I went to a really shit one once where the NHS person running it was lecturing 3 mothers about how they must stop BF their 6 mo at night because it was a habit and it would prevent them sleeping through. Luckily the group got taken over by the NCT and is loads better now.

shugfish Tue 22-Jan-13 12:57:19

Ordinarygull -
"tot's and tits day" - that made me giggle loudly!

FlatsInDagenham Tue 22-Jan-13 12:57:42

Hmm. I found breastfeeding monumentally difficult with my first baby. Painful cracked nipples, went to mixed feeding to give my nipples a break, supply was undermined, super-tired from all the night feeding ... I felt constantly on the back foot for the first 3 months. But eventually I overcame every problem and settled into a happy bf relationship well into toddlerhood.

Without my local support group I would've stopped at about ... 2 weeks, max.

Now I'm bf DC2 (10 months). Popped into the support group once when a strange lump appeared on one of my breasts. They organised a visit to breast clinic at hospital for the next day, then they rang me a few days later to check how I was.

They are bloody marvellous and have given me so much practical help.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Tue 22-Jan-13 12:58:35

Benefits IME:

- safe transitional space where women can build up confidence before breast feeding in public
- check the latch
- moan about hv chasing you with the scales
- get referrals to be assessed for tongue tie
- baby group
- some of them invite partners too
- introduce advanced skills (new holds, expressing, breast compressions)

It took me 10 months to 'fail' to bf each of my babies. The support of the groups slowed down my 'failing' trajectory - so instead of bf being yanked away from me (thanks for nothing 'failure to thrive' HV) - it happened at my pace.

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