to not understand breastfeeding support groups.(127 Posts)
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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
Me neither BUT if people feel they need them then I'm glad they're available.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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??
they obviously never gave spelling lessons though
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?
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.
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?
"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.
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!
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
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.
Seriously? You can't imagine what goes on in a breast feeding support group?? You must have a very low level of intelligence then.
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!
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) .
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.
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.
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.
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 . 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?
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.
"tot's and tits day" - that made me giggle loudly!
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.
- 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.
Manchester - the bf support group I went to had ff mums to that for one reason or another hadn't carried on bf'ing.
Feeding DS1 was awful in the first few months.
I'd cry in pain as I fed.
At that point in time, to be able to go somewhere and have an expert be able to watch how he latched on and give advice, practical supportive advice on how to improve the latch was worthless.
Without it I wouldn't have carried on.
So for one, I'm bloody glad I had access to that support group.
I didn't go for DS2, I didn't need it.
OP - your first split between either finding it hard = not bf'ing versus finding it easy = not needing the support is too black and white. Appreciating that some fall in the middle might help you to understand why these support groups are vital.
Cory that's the guilt I'm talking about. Sorry to hear you have had a hard time. I understand the need for support and assistance if breast feeding is something that is really important to you...
But breast feeding is not for everyone - that is evident.
What a bizarre thread. I don't go to sewing groups because I don't sew. Don't think they're "pointless" though - some people get something out of them, obviously!
I like the sound of the ones that supply cake and an ironing service. A lot of replies seem to be more about the social aspect of the groups. Do you not think that's the same whether you're at a "normal" toddler / baby group or one for bf'ing mothers? Most groups I go to have hv's popping in, and lots of info in bf'ing, and of course other mothers bf'ing as well without it being a dedicated bf'ing group.
I still like the idea of a round of applause for a good feed.
I went to one it's was bloody horrible. I fed ds1 till he was 2 with no problems. I really struggled with ds2, I had 8 weeks of intense pain with feeding and really needed help.
The support group was full of women who all new each other, mostly with toddlers. There was nowhere to put down new babies as the mothers didn't supervise their children who were running round in shoes throwing toys.
There was no support as the staff were chatting with their friends.
I'm not precious about toddlers being around a newborn after all ds1 wasn't three when his brother came along, but the environment was horrible for a baby, imagine 10 18 month-3.5 year olds with toys and no supervision.
I actually complained that money which should have been used to support mothers feeding newborns was being spent in this way. I went twice. The group lost funding thank god and they introduced a new one for mothers of baby's under4 months
Women don't just find it either 'easy' or 'impossible' to breastfeed. Many will experience different problems from time to time which, without support would result in them stopping.
Quite obvious really.
Mine was a real life line for me actually as I was desperate to breast feed yet found it really hard. Some one sitting and encouraging you and showing you how to do it without the time constraints of a midwife was lovely. We had tea and cake and felt really looked after at my one. It was lovely to speak to parents with older babies that had been through the same things and as my baby grew I found myself talking to new mums too. It's a great support network but the advisor can also help with GP referrals for mastitis etc. without that help I don't think I would have continued and for me it was really important.
I had fab support from my local bf group. I was really struggling and they helped me get the position and feeding right.
With DS there wasn't any group, so he ended up FF as I just couldn't get it right. With DD the support from the BFN meant that I got it to work and ended up feeding her for a year.
I don't care how other people feed their babies, but I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support group.
I went pretty much every week when on maternity leave with DS. The first time I went he was under 2 weeks old and I needed help with latch issues, which I got from one of the lovely peer supporters. I kept going even when bf established for several reasons. It was a good way to meet other mums, and have made some good friends. I looked on it in a way as a 'new baby' support group, as there was always someone to chat to about all issues, not just bf, but things like sleep deprivation, weaning etc.
It got me out of the house, and I got a cup of tea made for me, which I could drink while someone else watched DS.
I carried on going as well because I think its good for new mums to see older babies being bf, and I appreciated this myself when DS was tiny.
Having said that, I think I was very lucky with my group, I went to one with SIL in another part of the country when she had her baby, and it seemed less friendly somehow
MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 13:07:20
"Cory that's the guilt I'm talking about."
It wasn't just guilt- that could have been resolved with a pat on the back and reassurance that I was doing fine- it was also a sense of loss because something I had looked forward to was not happening the way it should.
In the same way as today guilt is part of what I feel about the fact that dd's disability precludes the healthy outdoor lifestyle I thought we would have as a family. But it's only part of it, and if you reassure me that it is not necessary, you still won't take that sense of loss away from me.
What a bizarre OP I neither found BF-ing really easy, or impossible. Sometimes it was fine, sometimes it was very hard and it was different with both DCs. But I knew carrying on was the best thing, so I found the support groups really useful. However, I wouldn't have given why people attend a second thought even if I had found it really easy. Isn't it just a good thing to have a support group, whatever it may be for??
The majority of mothers do attempt breastfeeding, but very few mothers are breastfeeding in any shape or form at 6 months. In some parts of the country women give up very early on. A breastfeeding group gives an enviroment where you can socialise with other women who are breastfeeding. Sometimes women who have no problems breastfeeding as such still experience pressure to bottlefeed.
In my area there are several breastfeeding groups. The La Leche League group caters for older breastfeeding/ babies and toddlers where as the NHS group is for younger babies.
OP, HVs are useless (in general) at giving bf advice, so your suggestion that the usual baby / toddler groups are enough is wrong.
Bf groups are run by trained bf counsellors and trained bf peer supporters, not HVs.
Didn't say it wasn't a good thing. Just wondering what the difference was between a bf group and any other baby/ surestart group that has bf'ing mothers and hv's etc. visiting.
Yabu. I went weekly for the first few months, asked questions about feeding frequency,night feeds, all sorts really. It was great to meet other new mothers too and lots of cameradery.
I agree hvs give bad bf advice, my nct bf group was excellent and much better than hv advice.
Our local bf'ing groups seem to have the normal staff from surestart attending, not bf counsellors which is why I have failed to see the point.
I went with DS1 to make friends mainly because by the time I'd plucked up the courage to go to the group he was 4 months old and breastfeeding fine. DS2 was failure to thrive and had low muscle tone and DS3 had reflux so I went to the group for support.
I'd love to go with DC4 but they've changed it so that you get kicked out when your baby starts crawling, older siblings aren't allowed anymore and there aren't any peer supporters because the NHS can't afford to train new ones every 4-6 months (the being kicked out when your baby starts crawling applies to peer supporters too).
I can understand why you would ask OP, sadly we mums get very heated about BFing so sme of the replies have been too harsh
Personally I found the first 10 days of BFing absolute hell and only the support of the BFing counsellor and my DH got me through. After the first month I was so glad I could BF my DS and it was so easy.
I didn't have the strength to go to the BF group until DS was much older. It was great to talk to others who understood about BFing in public, about baby led weaning (this was before it was discussed by many) etc.
It also gave me the confidence not to wean at 4 months but wait till 6 months. To me that was important and m not sure I could have been so honest at other baby groups
If you don't want to go to a breastfeeding group then its not complusory.
The group I went to was run by a health visitor with extra training in breastfeeding and a nursery nurse.
"I'd love to go with DC4 but they've changed it so that you get kicked out when your baby starts crawling, older siblings aren't allowed anymore and there aren't any peer supporters because the NHS can't afford to train new ones every 4-6 months (the being kicked out when your baby starts crawling applies to peer supporters too). "
That is stupid. I have never been to a breastfeeding group where older sibblings were not allowed.
I'm abroad and go to an English speaking BFG and also a French speaking BFG where we live. The English one to make friends and the French speaking one to practice my French and drink wine. And yes i did type that correctly.
It is fun, i can meet new people, BF DCs in comfort and it is a bit like MN but in real life.
The group I go to is like a toddler group where trained peer supporters are there to talk to if you have any BF issues and in the whole it's pretty good.
Not everyone falls into one of two categories of 'BFing is easy/impossible'. Many women have obstacles to overcome and a support group is somewhere to go where more than likely there will be someone else going through the same or BTDT.
For me, I also liked being able to go to a baby and toddler group where I didn't get stared at like I was a freak or a show off for BFing my twins.
Oh they're fab! It's just like any other group but lots of advice on hand if you want it.
And people to talk to!
That's like asking what's the point in a mums and babies group. It's a chance to socialize and talk to people with babies similar ages for support. And also if you're experiencing any problems feeding then you can get some reassurance from the counciller/health visitors there, or the other mums.
It's a very naive view to say "either it's all plain sailing or impossible." A lot of mums, myself included, have found it extemely hard, tiring and painful for the first month or 2, and then had concerns further on where baby insisted on only feeding on one side, or was suddenly feeding less for example.
There is (potentially) a big difference between a bf group and any other baby group/surestart group. Having done both, a lot of the value of a bf group was in peer support - if you don't have bf-ing friends or family, you have few experiences to draw on and can want reassurance. Just to know what is 'normal' and to feel normal, tbh, if most other mothers you know ff.
It is not the case that some women find it very easy and others very hard and give up. As others have said, there are lots of 'in between' experiences. This is what got talked about a lot at the group I went to. If you do want to bf, then it is useful to be able to have a moan about somethings without someone saying 'just feed formula then.'
As there are women who seem to be sensitive about ff-ing, I would feel easier about having an open chat with a hv/bf-ing mother in a group that was specifically for bf-ing. I wouldn't worry about offending someone just by talking about it or asking questions.
And in the early days, when I was a bit more ham fisted about latching on etc, it was just useful to be in a group where I wasn't the only one exposing a breast, droppng muslins, etc.
And I met a couple of really lovely other mums there - although I did that at lots of other groups, too. I do know that one of the mums who was v nervous about feeding in public hooked up with another mum in town, so they could feel some 'safety in numbers' bf-ing together.
I get mums come to the group I run for all different reasons. Your comment about sitting around giving applause is uncalled for.
A lot of mums find breastfeeding very straightforward, and others have problems, the majority of which can be solved quickly. So the group is there for that reason.
Then there is the fact that breastfeeding is now the minority. A lot of new mums now know that breastfeeding is the better choice, but have never encountered it directly, so are hesitant and full of questions.
It also tends to be that mums who breastfeed are more likely to BLW, co-sleep and use a sling, so they often have questions about that too.
The idea of a 'general' baby group is overwhelming for some new mums, as it conjures up an image of a busy, loud room, whereas the breastfeeding groups tend to be quieter.
I know my group makes a difference to the mums who have attended, because I am told so, regularly. Have also received ''thank you'' cards and a bunch of flowers (which made me cry, I was so touched). Some mums just attend the once, some attend every week for months, some I see right at the start, and then right at the end.
So you are not unreasonable to ask a question, but the sarky comment isn't needed, really.
When I had my dd I ha real trouble bf-ing. Really painful and difficult. But I wanted to persevere. The lovely woman at the bf group I went to showed me how to latch properly, have me advice on thrush, and was generally supportive and encouraging. That is what bf groups are for, IMHO. Not too hard to understand, surely.
I didn't find breastfeeding very easy but persevered for 18 months with the third ( a bit less with the first two) i must say i don't understand groups either BUT I found breastfeeding quite an isolating experience as I didn't know anyone else who was breastfeeding and my HV was a bit useless, kept suggesting I give a bottle for example, so I can understand why people do feel the need for extra support annd if it helps women make friends with other women, then i don't see the problem tbh
Ours was great- run by one of the HV. There was cheap soup and cake and a big play area for when the kids were slightly older. You met other people and their babies and noone talked to you about bfing unless you asked. Best bit was the HV brought the scales so you could just drop in and weigh your baby every week without having to go to a clinic. When you're a newbie and not sure how much the baby is getting that was invaluable. I met some really nice people.
I would have serious mental health problems if not for the care and support of my local breastfeeding group.
Not everyone just gives up if its hard.
Op you say you want to know "what the practical benefits are", yet you don't seem to be listening to the responses on this thread.
Also agree re the 'round of applause' comment.
I think to be fair, the OP's question is there because she has an unrealistic picture of bf-ing (relatively easy so you just get on with it, or 'more or less impossible').
Of course if you think something either comes easily or is pretty impossible just. a matter of course, you don't understand why there's any merit in intervention.
Whereas of course it can make a big difference between a woman bf and not.
I tend to get a bit irritated when people say 'oh, but bf-ing was easy for YOU...'. In some ways, it was - I had no pain, no cracked skin etc, no supply problems, ds gained weight perfectly well, he always latched on well even if I fumbled him! so yeah, I did avoid some big problems. But I suffered a lot from frequent feeding and broken sleep, and had mastitis ten bloody times...
Problem is, if I just stay silent and let people think it all went swimmingly for me, then (a) it's just not true, and gives a misleading picture, and (b) I feel a bit 'dismissed'. But if I say - well, actually it wasn't all plain sailing, then there's the danger that I get accused of being a martyr for bf-ing and told I was stupid not tl have fed formula if it was difficult (both have happened).
And that is partly why a bf group is useful!
I find it extremely hard to believe that you genuinely think that BFing is either easy or impossible. Almost eveyone I know has had some sort of difficulty with BFing at some point.
With DS1, we had massive feeding problems and went to a BFing group at our local Surestart centre. The support I got at this group meant that when we had to start mix-feeding because no-one could establish what was causing the problems, I at least knew that we'd had all possible input and hadn't missed something obvious.
With DS2, BFing started off very well, but I was nervous because of my experience with DS1 and went to a BFing group with him at only a few days old. It was a good job I did as BFing became increasingly difficult and he eventually finished up refusing to feed at all at 3 months. The leader of this group gave me huge amounts of help and, like a previous poster, made sure that we could keep far longer than it looked as though we would at various points. She also correctly diagnosed his tongue-tie after 3 midwives had missed it.
The comparison to things like cloth nappies is a bit daft - putting a nappy on isn't exactly something you're going to fail at!
our local ones involve a lot of cake. plus trained bfing supporters, often HVs (one of whom is training to be an IBLC, and who is very well liked locally). we have new mums, second/third etc time mums, mums with newborns, mums with older babies, mums feeding toddlers, tandem feeders. We chat, support each other (lots of 'is this normal?' questions, because quite often mums will only know what is normal for bottle feeding, so understanding cluster feeding, measuring intake (is baby healthy, basically), let down reflex etc takes some support), discuss normal baby issues, and generally eat cake.
it's really about cake tbh.
bf clinics and then groups helped me breastfeed - i was ready to quit on day 8 but really didnt want to. i got practical help frkm bf counsellors and lactation consultants and emotional support from other mums going through similar things. i made some brillisnt friends.
i have beeb to notmal baby/toddler groups and everyone ff and all felt compelled to tell me when i bf ds why bf was crap and ff was great. that coild have made me feel v insecure.
i have sonce trained as a peer supporter and now run a group. i guarantee cake every week i think of it as more of a coffee morning. we have newborns through to toddlers (and older during half term). you dont need to have a problem to come to us or even exclusively breastfeed.
to the poster who rejoiced at a group being shut down because of toddlers - many of us dont get funding. all the peer supporters are volunteers and we had to find a venue for free unless its an nct group thus is pretty much the case across our city. women who bf toddlers need support too
reallytired totally agree with you. I was going with DS2 aged 3 and DS3 aged 9 months (who still had reflux and was failing to thrive) when the rules changed and I told everyone who would listen that it was stupid but the HV said the older babies and toddlers were putting off the new mums from coming. The peer supporters were very unimpressed when the HV told them they had to leave because they had toddlers.
Most people who bf have had problems ranging from minor to serious issues like undiagnosed tongue tie, mastitis. With the right help at the right time almost all issues are resolvable, I think bf groups are crucial to many people. I know very few bfers who have found it easy.
Sorry petty, I should have been more clear. I was glad it was stopped because mums struggling with newborns were ignores within the group as it had just become like a coffee morning for people who new each other
kungfu see I really don't understand why you say "fail at" breast feeding.
Like it's a test.
Not a dig by the way, just an observation.
I really hate to see women under this much pressure.
Well - I've also failed to do the laundry today. I intended to & I wish I had but
MN circumstance intervened.
changeforaname I said upthread that maybe i failed to see the point as my local ones are run by the pretty useless hv / surestart people, and I acknowledged that ones run by bf specialists are probably a different matter so I'm hardly not listening to the responses.
wrt the comments about people falling between the 2 camps of finding it easy or impossible, I was obviously wrong there, but within my circle of new mothers, everyone is either merrily bfing with no problems or made a decision not to bfeed within the first few days.
Can I still have a round of applause for lo who's having a good slurp?
I didn't say "fail at breastfeeding"
I said "fail" in relation to cloth nappies, if that's what you mean, because that was the whole point I was making - you're not exactly going to be falling about, weeping, and saying "I just can't put this nappy on!"
But I don't have a problem with the term, personally. DS1 and I did fail at BFing - I don't see that as anything to be ashamed of, but I certainly can't say that BFing was a successful experience for us.
DS2 and I were a lot more successful. I didn't feel under pressure to succeed at it, but I wanted to, and with the right support we managed it to 8 months.
I wouldn't tell anyone else they had failed, because everyone has their own personal measure of success or failure. 2 weeks for one woman might be a massive personal triumph, while someone else might feel disappointed with that outcome. But yes, I consider that we've had one BFing failure and one modest success, and I'm fine with that.
everyone is either merrily bfing with no problems or made a decision not to bfeed within the first few days I don't think I told baby group friends about my cracked nipples, mastitis, feeding all the time, crying when she latched on, my struggles with nipple shields that went on for months. I imagine I looked like I was merrily bfeeding.
I went to one a few times when DD was a newborn - as others have said, it's not about finding it easy or hard, I was somewhere in the middle with a few minor difficulties in the beginning. It's like learning any new skill . . and the thing with breastfeeding is we don't see it around us on a daily basis, so it is very useful and reassuring to see other women doing it. It's also a good way to practise feeding in public - which is necessary with a young baby!
It wasn't handy for me to get to - if there was one within walking distance I would have carried on going as I found that in the other baby group I went to, most people had stopped breastfeeding within a few months at most. After that, I felt a bit awkward talking about it, and like the odd one out. I would have liked to stay in touch with more breastfeeding mums - the only ones I have ever heard of (apart from myself) who breastfed past 1 year are on Mumsnet!
I'm not sure if we're discussing or arguing. And if we are arguing, I'm not sure why...
Breast feeding seems, to me (and this is just my opinion, you can disagree and I won't mind) such a loaded stressful issue.
I have read each and every post and I hear what is being said.
But I think sometimes there is so much value and importance attached to breast feeding, that it puts new parents under too much pressure - and it worries me. It really does.
It's good to hear that breast feeding groups help. Personally, like the OP I never really understood what they were for - and I'm willing to bet there are others too.
Now I know, so thanks.
To clarify: a loaded stressful issue for some people. Obviously not all .
Depending where you live you might not really know anyone else who is bf. I used to find it awkward going round to see certain friends with ds when he was tiny because I knew (because they'd told me before ds was born, or made comments about a mother at a group they went to) that they thought bf was weird or a bit yuck or a waste of time.
So it felt uncomfortable feeding in front of them, which limited the times I could see them, and I could hardly have a moan about any problems I was having because I knew they'd be rolling their eyes and thinking (if not actually saying) "why bother then?".
But I could go to a bf group and meet other local mothers who bf, and swap experiences, and have a moan, and get problems sorted.
Honestly, on mn you'd think everyone except a tiny minority bf their children but in real life that's not the case many places and you can feel quite isolated.
When I first read your post I thought you were just looking for a fight. Then I remembered my best friend asking me
" so what exactly do you do at bfing group, what if your baby doesn't need to feed when you are there?"
I go every 2 weeks although mostly our problems are long since resolved. Now I go to catch with my friends and support and advise new mothers.
Some people come once to ask a question or get some reassurance.
Mine is a fairly formal set up in that we all sit around 1 table, mother with youngest baby goes first ( at this ages any issues are more of a problem) and we go round everyone listening and advising. Often we laugh, sometimes we cry.
Because of this set up I have often been able to avoid potential problems as I have seen the warning signs etc
It has been an absolute life line without it we would not have made it past 8 weeks to have ten months of easy peasy
I would recommend it to any one.
YANBU since so many people don't seem to understand them either, but that's probably because most people haven't been to one. YABU with a couple of your comments - it's not a case of either finding it easy or giving up, and the 'round of applause' comment is uncalled for, but it's a comment I have had from several people in real life so you're obviously not alone in your thinking.
BFing is the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I was like a dog with a bone and refused to give up. She's my first child and I had no family around me to help (and wouldn't have wanted them to anyway), I can't tell you how important it was to be able to go get advice from strangers.
Plus, most weeks, if it hadn't have been for that support group I wouldn't have left the house at all since I hated the idea of mum & baby groups. I need a specific subject. Although it wasn't all sitting around talking about BFing, it was quite often just a nice friendly chat about nothing much, but it was a great platform to be able to ask for advice about anything baby-related once you're at that inbetween stage where the MW and HVs have signed you off and you're not really moving in any nursery circles.
They have been a great support to me in helping me BF when I was finding it very hard.
I'm obviously lucky. All the people I know either ff and don't appear to suffer huge angst about it or beat themselves with birch; or they bf and have no qualms about feeding where and whenever they need to.
I now know what bf groups are for, so thank you ( don't think I need to go to one, but will if I find the ironing / cake one!)
BF support groups are fantastic, don't knock it til you try it.
I didn't use them 2nd time round but I think when you are new to BF & unsure of yourself there is nothing more reassuring than someone else telling you they are having/had the same problem or issue & it's perfectly normal-so much so that I honestly believe they can help you to continue to BF when you are ready to give up.
I also made a really good friend at the group I went to which is a bonus.
I couldn't get DS to latch without a nipple shield for the first 12 weeks and I was on the verge of giving up. I'd had his positioning checked by the hv and she said it was fine. A lady at playgroup suggested a bf support group. I went along, had 5 minutes of 1:1 support from the bf counsellor and problem solved (the problem was positioning affecting attachment). I never had to use nipple shields again.
I started going every week. It was like playgroup, but sometimes we were given info on different bf issues. I have started my peer support training through them.
I went to a La Leche Leage group and it was only slightly about breastfeeding :-). It was really supportive about bf, baby wearing, baby led weaning, co sleeping etc. i hardly knew anyone and it was the only baby group where I actually made friends :-)
Also, the LLL group had plenty of extended bf mums. It makes it a lot easier to get though the hard bits when you see the first six months as only the early days :-). A lot of them didn't feel comfortable 'admitting' to bf past six months, never mind a year or two, in normal groups.
I don't have a support group near me (not even sure they exist in France) but have used MN for support and frankly without the forum I would not be breastfeeding. I got help to start off with a poor latch, support through the pain of mastitis and milk blisters, but most importantly the knowledge that there are other people out there who bf. DD is now 20mo and we're getting to the stage where everyone I know seems to have the urge to comment on how weird it is that she is still bf. In RL I only know of one other person who bfed more than I have so far and if I didn't know through MN that there are plenty of other people out there who bf for a lot longer than me, I think I would be feeling pretty isolated and weird (might even be questioning the decision to continue bf myself - DP also thinks I have overdone it with bf so no particular support from that side either).
So YABU I am afraid and also a bit condescending in some of your comments about what might be happening in such groups.
You don't sound very intelligent in your assessment op - and your perception of bf groups is odd too. They are a wonderful source of support. And FYI - the majority of people who breastfeed don't find it 'easy' they have persevered or worked really hard to breastfeed their child. In most cases, with perseverance, breastfeeding is achievable.
That's not very nice gimmecakeandcandy.
The op's opening post wasn't nice, it sounded like she was being very condescending and silly about bf groups.
La Leche League was a huge help for me, first baby, latch problems, soreness, all take more than ne visit to get over and get comfortable. By then you are making friends babies same age, helping each other over other difficulties, not just breastfeeding, we talked about sleep and weaning, and tantrums and everything else you could think of. Including, tandem nursing, toddler nursing, fertility.
Second baby went back again and ended up becoming a group leader, lots of helping moms over the phone who didn't want to go to a meeting.
An invaluable experience that I wouldn't have missed for anything.
There can be all sorts of issues that arise during breastfeeding that could do with some advice from other people in the same boat. Also, there is often the facility to weigh your baby properly at the groups which is very reassuring because when breastfeeding you never know how much milk your little one is getting.
How unpleasant cakeand candy. Don't hink it makes me ver stupid to ask what goes on in a group I've never attended.
Also, if you have the intelligence to read all my replies, you'll see that after lots of responses I said thanks for the info, I now know what happens and understand their purpose.
Also, do you often insult people who maybe aren't actually very intelligent? let's start a bashing the thicko thread, we could even have a subsidiary thread where we mock those who aren't very pretty.
Being someone expecting and having no one in my life that breastfeeds I can't wait to pop along to my local bf support group when my mat leave starts. Those women that have been bfing for months know a lot about the ups and downs so I am not going to be waiting on the leader to answer all my questions. I mean it would be nearly impossible to get support from a room full of first timers overloading one woman with questions.
You sound ignorant beyond belief!
You either don't have children or didn't breastfeed!
It's not either easy or impossible! There are plenty of statistics that tell you that over 95% of women can breastfeed if they really want too and that the biggest factor of predicting whether breastfeeding will be succesful, is the mother's determination.
I'm still bfeeding DD who is 1 next week and the first 7 weeks were hard. She didn't latch on great, in fact not all for the first 2 days, my nipples were red raw for weeks and weeks and we got thrush. I was crying everyday for weeks because it was so painful BUT I carried on because I was determined.
I muddled through by myself with the help of online forums but if there had been a breastfeeding support group in my area, I would have been there like a flash! Because they support women who do a very important job. I wish there were more of them.
So yes, YABVVU! You also sound rude.
do people sit in a circle and break into a round of applause when your baby's having a feed
Baffled as to why you wrote this op?
It sounds derogatory, patronising and unpleasant. Perhaps it wasn't meant like that?
I'm afraid I agree that your op was rather derogatory. But it sounds like you understand what they're for now
It took me 12 weeks to get bf more or less pain-free, so it wasn't easy at all. The support groups were great as one problem resolved and another appeared. I think you are wrong to say those people who find it hard give up.
mrshuxtable I have 3 children and have breastfed till about 18 month ( 5-6 months ebf). DC3 is just 6 weeks old but I assume I will do the same.
And yes, I'm lucky that I find it incredibly easy, don't need any determination or help.
If you bother reading the whole post I've said about 3 times now "thanks for the replies, now I know what the groups are for". Jesus there's some narky people about.
I wasn't saying I disagreed with the groups or thought they were a waste of time, I said quite clearly that I simply didn't understand what happened at them.
You are a very rude woman who should read all the thread.
Can you not see why your first post was derogatory?
Have you not read my subsequent replies?
Yes I have... But you are still surprised that what you said has grated on people
Made my best 'baby friends' at bf group. OP I think you are unreasonable to criticise people for commenting on your original post. If they didn't like it, they can say. They are not compelled to read 121 posts in order to say they didn't like your attitude.
well I am obviously a complete wimp, having given up with DD1 at 4 days, when I was bleeding from both nipples and had mastitis in both breasts. When the HV suggested (after 3 days of bottles, bloody marvellous days) that I try mixed feeding I cried at the very thought. And with DD2, when my nipples started bleeding at 2 days, that was it.
Had there been a BF support group I don't think I could even have got there when they were both so little... so I congratulate those who persevere if that's what they want to do.
I found bf very very difficult and incredibly painful, I went to a breastfeeding support group and they were fantastic. I am still feeding DD two years later.
The women who worker there helped me latch DD on properly and one of them actually came out to the house a few times. The other women there were great sources of support, especially the ones who had struggled in the beginning themselves. I am still v close to a few of them, despite not having been to the group for over a year.
Sweet Jesus how many times do I have to say I now get it. Shall I get the sackcloth and ashes out?
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