Breast Feeding – La Leche League

My name is Joan Broe and I am a La Leche League Leader. I am also the mother of two fantastic boys, aged 9 and 6. I had a lot of difficulty and needed medical assistance to help me conceive my first son and so I was hoping that the breastfeeding end of things was going to be a bit easier for me, surely I deserved a break? Well, no such luck!

I experienced many of the common problems that can sometimes face a breastfeeding mom – sore nipples, tiredness, conflicting advice and a baby that wasn’t gaining weight fast enough to satisfy to the nurse’s wall chart.

Call your local La Leche League group” she suggested, “they were a fantastic support to me when I had any questions or just needed a bit of reassurance.

I was lucky to have a sister that had breastfed her children so I knew ” It could be done” she had three healthy children that more than proved that point, so I called her, she lives in the midlands.

“Call your local La Leche League group” she suggested, “they were a fantastic support to me when I had any questions or just needed a bit of reassurance”

La Leche League is a voluntary organisation which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed their babies. All La Leche League Leaders are mothers who have enjoyed nursing their own babies and who realize the importance of helping other mothers develop a happy nursing relationship. They have completed an accreditation programme and are familiar with breastfeeding techniques as well as current research. They organise monthly meetings and are available to speak with a mother in person or on the telephone.

Now calling a complete stranger on day four or five post par tum, when your milk is just coming in, your breasts feel engorged and you feel very sleep deprived and weepy is not the easiest thing to do. I took some deep breaths, dialled the number and asked, in, what I thought sounded like a business like tone, for The La Leche League (I resisted the urge to add “sore nipples department please”). A lovely warm voice identified herself as Mairead, a La Leche League Leader, and asked how she could help me, I instantly dissolved into tears and as I sobbed she comforted me with kind words and reassured me that she too had once felt a bit overwhelmed in the early weeks of being a new nursing mom. I gathered myself and we had a lovely chat, she answered my questions and made some helpful suggestions (La Leche League does not give “advice” or tell mothers what they “should” or shouldn’t do, we try to build a moms confidence by making some practical suggestions to help improve her situation and then let the mother decide which works best for her and her baby. We also encourage her to follow her mothering instinct) By the end of the call I felt confident that I was on the road to happy nursing.

I started to attend the monthly “mother to mother” support group meetings and was delighted to find lots of “normal” women who like me had been struggling a bit in the early days but were now happily nursing away. They continued to attend the monthly meetings because of friendships they had made and common interests they shared, I felt so at home. After almost a year of attending meetings, having my questions patiently answered and receiving such wonderful support as my baby grew happy and healthy on my milk I felt ready to learn how to give something back to this wonderful organisation. I started to train as a leader and three years, and a second baby, later (naturally conceived and breastfed like a dream thank you very much!) I was qualified to help other moms. Now when the phone rings I smile before I answer (you can hear a smile on the phone) sometimes it’s a confident nursing mom with a quick query, and sometimes it’s a shaky voice, trying to hold it together asking for The La Leche League and I say “yes, I’m Joan, how can I help you”, then there’s that moment of silence before the first little sob, and as she tries to cry silently I reassure her that I too felt a bit lost and overwhelmed in those early days and I understand her frustration, her anxiety and her pain.

There are so many advantages to breastfeeding for both mother and baby some are well known, like your baby having a great immune system or mom getting her figure back quickly but believe me this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Breastfeeding your baby is not just a way to feed your child; it is a style of mothering.

Having your baby in skin to skin contact helps you to bond with him and him with you.

While he is nursing he can hear not only your voice but your heart beat too, your smell and taste are familiar to him, it reminds him of the womb and so he feels safe and secure in your arms. When I learned that lactating breasts can heat up or cool down if your baby is feeling either chilly or feverish I was amazed. Then I read that if my baby was ill with a little bug my breast milk would make the antibodies for it. It was so comforting to know that if my baby was ever sick that he could nourish himself, hydrate, comfort and medicate himself all at my breast, to say nothing about the built in analgesic pain relief breast milk provides, hats off to mother nature she has thought of everything!

The figures for breastfeeding are slowly increasing in Ireland as mothers- to- be (and their partners) are talking the time to educate themselves about the hundreds of benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby, the environment, and to society as a whole.

Sadly breastfeeding is a lost art in much of the western world; the correct information and support are now key to successful breastfeeding. We encourage women to come along to our meetings while they are pregnant, to learn about “the normal course of breastfeeding” especially what to expect in those early days (forewarned is forearmed!).

The Blanchardstown/Castleknock group have two meetings per month, Firstly our informal coffee mornings in the Betel Nut Cafe at the Draiocht Theatre in Blanchardstown Shopping centre (beside the Library) 1st wed each month @ 10.30am and our support/information meetings, every 3rd wed @ 8.30pm in 10 Blakestown Cottages, Blakestown Road, Clonsilla, Dublin.

Phone help from Joan on 01 8200687 and Jenny on 0861249964

Le Leche League Website: www.lalecheleagueireland.com

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