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What makes a local breastfeeding support group 'approachable9;?

(16 Posts)
Levanna Thu 03-Mar-05 00:34:01

Has anyone any suggestions? It is a local group run by breastfeeding mums who volunteer their time and have taken part in La Leche peer supporter training. Through personal experience, I know when things are going less than smoothly, approaching a group of strangers for help can be a mammoth task. So, is there anything that we should be doing to help people feel more comfortable about contacting us? We're building a website, have phone and email and weekly drop-ins.
Either local breastfeeding mums are doing just fine, or we need to come across as more 'approachable'!
Any suggestions?
TIA

Prettybird Thu 03-Mar-05 09:23:25

Have you made contact with the local maternity hospitals? Also, hwat about the local HVs and midwives.

it can be very lonley as a new mum and the earleir that they can find out about things like this the better.

I was told about the b/f support group while I was still in hospital - and in fact went along to the first one before i was even discharged! (I was in for 6 days as ds was under lights).

tiktok Thu 03-Mar-05 09:43:51

Levanna, my experience is that mothers will not come to groups unless they are told about it many, many times. That means seeing posters antenatally and on the postnatal ward; midwives speaking to the mother at every antenatal apppointment; a personal invitation/flyer given out on the postnatal ward with details of how to get to the group; mentions from the midwives several times in hospital; mentions from the comm midwives and health visitors at every encounter.

Ideally, there should be personal contact from one of the peer supporters with an offer to accompany the mum to the session.

I bet you will find that many of the bf mothers in your area have not been told about the group - midwives and HVs forget too easily, or else decide who they are going to tell.

Press coverage is useful, but there is no substitute for personal encouragement. Good luck!

mummytosteven Thu 03-Mar-05 09:46:51

agree with Tiktok. with all the chaos of having a newborn, (which is probably going to be even worse if you have a newborn with feeding difficulties), you will need it absolutely hammering into you that this facility exists and can help you, and I think it is a great idea of Tiktoks of having someone offer to accompany you there the first time - as in the very early weeks it can feel like climbing mount everest getting out anyway at all at anything resembling a set time!

Prettybird Thu 03-Mar-05 10:06:55

Come to think of it, the sister on the ward, who knew I was determined to breast feed (despite the fact that ds was already showing signs of being an awkward bugger, as I needed help every feed to get him latched on), came to get me, took off ds' security tag (the support group met just beside the entrance door, so his tag might have set off the alarms) and personally took me along.

And having been once, it was so much easier to go again the next week.

Marina Thu 03-Mar-05 10:22:08

Good advice from Tiktok as ever. Are you working with the local NCT to ensure a regular presence in their newsletter? Are your details given out by all the NCT and NHS antenatal class teachers in your area?
Get yourselves onto your Netmums website locally too, if there is one.
How great you are offering this service. I was very lucky to receive excellent support first time round from a friend who was also a HV. My own midwives and HVs were supportive too but too hard-pressed to provide much one-to-one support. They would have been glad to publicise your group though

aloha Thu 03-Mar-05 10:25:26

Definitely make certain people know you are there from before their babies are born and immediately afterwards as I think this is the window of opportunity to get people before they give up in despair. It can be really hard to find out where local support is. I think you are doing great work btw. Congratulations. A hospital run group really helped me, but it was a bugger to find out about as I was given the wrong info (info for bottle feeding mothers) when I left hospital

Levanna Thu 03-Mar-05 22:06:30

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and experiences. We do have fantastic community midwife support, so will 'infiltrate' local ante natal sessions. Looks like the local hospitals will be seeing a lot more of us too, in the near future!
Thanks

kbaby Mon 07-Mar-05 21:40:03

I went because the way my HV made it sound it just sounded like a coffee morning for other mums who breastfeed. I went along expecting just a baby group and made loads of friends who all bf. Because we were all made to feel comfortable it never felt like I was being silly by asking daft questions or getting help. It also helped that other mums gave advice as perhaps they had the same problem.
I went from the time when dd was 3 weeks old to 6 months. After a bit it became a social group where we helped new mums.

SkiBunnyFlummy Mon 07-Mar-05 21:41:32

Ermm having a friendly breast feeding advisor who visits you in your bedroom (as I didn't leave mine for 3 weeks after baby)

SkiBunnyFlummy Mon 07-Mar-05 21:42:32

You should visit the local hospital I guess, leave some cards in the tv room or something.

wobblyknicks Mon 07-Mar-05 21:50:26

IME the one huge thing that would make it approachable is making it clear that its a group to help you breastfeed, rather than a club for those who breastfeed to show off to each other. Unfortunately the group I went to was one fo the 2nd. Full of women with older babies who just sat down and chatted, I was the only one who had a tiny baby and didn't have a clue what I was doing. Granted, it meant that the counsellor could spend more time with me but I'd have swapped that for being able to see other people struggle and learn with them. I know you can't dictate who comes and who doesn't but the general atmosphere felt like 'we want to help you breastfeed because you should be one of us', not just 'we want to help'.

Levanna Tue 08-Mar-05 15:24:14

SBF, we're having our 'police checks' done as I type .
Kbaby, I think we'll have to brief our H/V's! I think in time they'll get the hang of it, though sadly, some of them (including mine) are quite obviously irked by breastfeeding, it's unreal! (We're already working with local GP's and providing each with a specific pack of info on breastfeeding. It covers common ailments and how to treat, drugs which are safe while feeding, etc)
Wobblyknicks, I really relate to what you are saying. When feeding DD1 I had a view that breastfeeding support groups were just that, groups to support breastfeeding rather than the ladies that are trying it, IYKWIM? Hopefully we'll be able to put ourselves across as friendly, absolutely no oneupmanship (anyone know where I can get a gag for one particular member of the group? GGrr!).
I'm looking forward to bringing these ideas to fruition.
Thanks so much!

flamesparrow Tue 08-Mar-05 15:33:46

For me.... I would say:

You need to make sure people know you are there, but not in a "you should be breastfeeding" kind of way - just we know that breastfeeding is hard, we are here to help type thing. I agree with leaflets and flyers needing to be given lots. Telling mums in maternity ward is great (and tell the dads too).

Email is again great - is it that the whole team is emailed, or do people get their own personal advisor? I would be happier if I had just one person who was working with me.

Make sure people know it is mums who are doing it, not health professionals - a midwife who has never had children teaching to breastfeed is scary, a mum isn't.

Levanna Tue 08-Mar-05 15:43:29

flamesparrow, we can easily facilitate a 'personal' supporter but I've never thought to add it to our literature, and you are right, ithat can be very important to some ladies it would have made the world of difference to me too. (I cancelled an appointment with a counsellor once as she sent me the appointment which said that her and her colleague - I cancelled!

I'm racking my brains over how to include a male supporter, that could be very helpful in terms of the community work we do and helpful to dads.
Thanks!

Prettybird Tue 08-Mar-05 15:46:07

The other thing I remember from the b/f support group at my maternity hosptial is that the ladies who ran it (the two breast feeding specialist midwives at the hospital - fantastic people) made a point of introducing "new" faces to talk to mums who had already had problems. I was helped my other mums - and later returined the favour. In fact, I continued going for longer than I "needed", so that I could "pay my dues".

It helped to have that positive introudction, as it can be quite nerve wracking walking in to a room where everyone seems to know each other.

In terms of layout, they had a large padded area in the middle of the floor, with a few toys, where the babies could lie/crawl, with chairs arranged around it. There were also loads of pillows around, which you could use to get yourself into a comfortable position for b/f. Personally, it took me a long time to get be able to feed without the props of extra cushions.

They also had scales and nappy changing facilities, so that if you wanted to get your baby weighed you could (there was no pressure to do so though). That way you could avoid the dreaded HV-run health clinic!

They also had dieticians, physios etc visit every so often. Easier I suppose as it was based on a hospital site.

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