Many new mothers are surprised to learn that breastfeeding isn’t necessarily instinctive; instead, it is a skill that must be developed over time. Background knowledge, a group of empathetic mothers, and professional support are often keys to success.
Medical research overwhelmingly favors breastfeeding. Breastfed children have a lower likelihood of future obesity, developing allergies, and will typically have fewer issues with their gastrointestinal tract. Breast milk is more than just a source of nourishment. “Breastmilk is a living substance full of antibodies, hormones and other disease fighting agents that can never be recreated,” says breastfeeding counselor Lindsey Murphy.
Since breast milk is antimicrobial, it can be used to treat a baby’s eye or ear infection, scrape, or bug bite. For moms, it lessens the likelihood of developing post-partum depression, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. It’s good for Mom’s emotional health, too. Breastfeeding mothers report a fierce sense of accomplishment and confidence in their parenting abilities.
The Long Island Mamas Network has developed a list of resources for expectant moms and new families.
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion, by Kathleen Huggins
- Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, by Ina May Gaskin
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by Teresa Pitman, Diana West and Diane Wiessinger
- The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning, by William and Martha Sears
The most well-known breastfeeding group is the La Leche League (LLL). The organization was created to “help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.” La Leche League offers weekly meetings in different sites throughout Long Island.
Pregnant women are always welcome – and so are their partners. Formula-feeding families often cite the need for Dad’s assistance as the reason for their choice. The same is true for families that choose breastfeeding. Dad’s help is invaluable. The LLL reminds us that, “…the support of a baby’s father can help the breastfeeding relationship succeed. The father can head off discouragement, deflect negative comments from friends and relatives, help calm a fussy baby, and bring the new mother food and drink while she is breastfeeding.”
LLL of Nassau – http://www.lllusa.org/NYE/Nassau/nassau.HTM
LLL of Suffolk – http://www.lllusa.org/NYE/Suffolk/suffolk.htm
If planning to deliver a baby in a local hospital, check with the facility to see if they offer a breastfeeding class. Expectant couples can attend together or mom-to-be can come alone. Parents that do their homework on breastfeeding are more likely to reach their goals, so the classes are well worth attending. They are very affordable and usually meet after business hours.
Winthrop Hospital Breastfeeding Class – Mineola
When: Classes are offered three times a month on a Wednesday evening from 7:00 pm– 9:00 pm, or on Saturday or Sunday.
How Much: $20 for mom or $40 for a couple
Contact Info: (516) 663-2858
No matter how many books parents read or classes attended, attempting to breastfeed newborns in the hospital or during the early post-partum days can be an intimidating task. Lactation Consultants are breastfeeding experts. If mothers need help, Lactation Consultants are easy to find.
Lindsey Murphy tells us that “LCs work hospitals, clinics, and independently. They can help you right after delivery, shortly thereafter and as your baby grows. LCs can be the saving grace to you and your family and are the ‘know-alls’ of the breastfeeding world. A consult with a Lactation Consultant costs less then a several week supply of formula. Moms who meet with LCs are more likely to reach their breastfeeding goals.”
Lactation Consultants can help a new mother fix latching issues, solve production problems, refer to doctors for medical problems (for issues like tongue-tie) and have access to breast pump rentals or other necessary supplies.
A private consultation with a Lactation Consultant can include: observing a nursing session, weight check, pump rental, referral (in cases of tongue-tie or other medical issue), and/or suggestions for dietary supplements if needed. They can also help moms figure out their options if they require medicine that’s questionably compatible with breastfeeding. A consultation can run $200-300. Remember that early intervention is important. If mothers find themselves having trouble, call as soon as possible.
Find a Lactation Consultant:
- Long Island Lactation Consultant Association: http://www.lilca.org/find_lc.htm
- Long Island Breastfeeding: http://www.longislandbreastfeeding.com
- Wild Flowers Birth Services http://www.wildflowersbirthservices.webs.com
Practitioners’ offices or local hospitals may also offer support groups. They give new mothers the opportunity to share tips with other breastfeeding moms and discuss the challenges and victories they’ve encountered. Many are free!
For qualifying families, WIC also provides breastfeeding and nutritional information for pregnant and nursing women.
WIC - http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/breastfeeding/count_on_wic.htm
By Rachel Minkowsky