On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the mothers in our lives. While we recognize the important roles they play in the lives of their children and families, today I want to reflect on how mothers also support each other.
In particular, I have benefitted greatly from my connections with other breastfeeding mothers. I remember a time, a few months before my baby arrived, that I shyly peeked over a friend’s shoulder to watch how her baby latched onto her breast. I recall swapping stories and laughs (and maybe tears, too) with friends who also nursed their children. And then, there came a day when I was the mother who nursed her toddler while a pregnant friend looked on, and she shared with me that she planned to breastfeed her baby, too.
While support for breastfeeding can come in many forms, I found that connecting with other breastfeeding parents was especially important for me. It was so great to share and connect with others who understood some of the joys and realities I was experiencing – they got it, they understood. Simply knowing other parents who breastfed their children in the toddler years, in public, and on the go, helped me to feel comfortable doing the same.Like me, mothers might be able to get this type of support through family and friends. Parents may also get similar support from programs or volunteers in their communities. For example, La Leche League (LLL) is an organization that is founded on peer-to-peer support:
LLL Leaders have breastfed their own child(ren) and …enjoy talking with other parents, sharing information, and helping others resolve challenges.” -Sue Hoffman, Coordinator of Leader Accreditation in BC, LLL Canada
Leaders don’t just have valuable personal experiences to share; they also receive training from LLL in order to better support parents and to provide accurate information. Leaders might provide support via phone, email, or in-person visits, or through monthly informal group meetings. One leader described these meetings as “safe place(s) where any breastfeeding parent can get practical information about breastfeeding in a non-judgmental and supportive environment.”
Group settings provide the bonus of participants being able to connect with other families:
It’s so wonderful to have a group of parents come together and support one another. Each parent attending has valuable experiences to share with the next parent.” -Rowena, LLL leader
Whether through personal connections, or through an organization like LLL, breastfeeding parents benefit from connecting with other breastfeeding parents. One parent shared:
We have found a community of other breastfeeding mothers, a community which supports us as we support it…I encourage every pregnant or breastfeeding momma to join.” -Hayley, northern BC mother
Families who are expecting a new baby and those who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding* can connect with LLL for support, through the La Leche League Canada website, by finding a group in BC, or by calling the LLL central telephone lines.
*Some parents may prefer the term chestfeeding. For more information, see LLL Canada’s Transgender/Transsexual/Genderfluid Tip Sheet.