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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.

HopAndSkip Tue 22-Jan-13 13:44:18

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.

rainrainandmorerain Tue 22-Jan-13 13:45:56

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.

SirBoobAlot Tue 22-Jan-13 13:47:36

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.

FuriousRox Tue 22-Jan-13 13:48:21

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.

OwlLady Tue 22-Jan-13 13:51:08

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

poozlepants Tue 22-Jan-13 13:52:00

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.

Posterofapombear Tue 22-Jan-13 13:53:36

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.

changeforaname Tue 22-Jan-13 13:54:41

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.

rainrainandmorerain Tue 22-Jan-13 14:00:35

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!

TandB Tue 22-Jan-13 14:05:18

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!

Kveta Tue 22-Jan-13 14:06:57

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.

pettyprudence Tue 22-Jan-13 14:13:02

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 grin 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 sad unless its an nct group thus is pretty much the case across our city. women who bf toddlers need support too sad

elliejjtiny Tue 22-Jan-13 14:20:46

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.

mummysmellsofsick Tue 22-Jan-13 14:46:48

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.

lunar1 Tue 22-Jan-13 14:51:58

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

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 14:54:11

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.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Tue 22-Jan-13 15:02:17

Well - I've also failed to do the laundry today. I intended to & I wish I had but MN circumstance intervened.

moogy1a Tue 22-Jan-13 15:03:12

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?

TandB Tue 22-Jan-13 15:04:30

I didn't say "fail at breastfeeding" confused

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.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 22-Jan-13 15:09:52

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.

TheCountessOlenska Tue 22-Jan-13 15:13:45

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!

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 15:15:14

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.

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Tue 22-Jan-13 15:16:34

To clarify: a loaded stressful issue for some people. Obviously not all grin.

sleepyhead Tue 22-Jan-13 15:28:31

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.

PignutSalamander Tue 22-Jan-13 15:47:22

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.

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