Blessed with Support
Ira S. Philip
Orlando FL USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2008, pp. 22-24
I had never heard of LLL prior to becoming pregnant. I grew up in Europe and I assumed that everyone breastfed and that this was the common way. I did attend a breastfeeding class while pregnant, but assumed for the most part that nursing was easy and came naturally. I had not heard of the big formula marketing push of the 1950s and was very surprised when everyone assumed that I would be formula feeding when the baby arrived. This is our story of how we've come to know and appreciate our local La Leche League Group.
Anna Corinna was born on July 24, 2006. The birth wasn't what we planned, but we were able to get nursing off to a good start while still in the hospital. She was immediately coined a "cluster feeder" by the nurses, who were so helpful in showing me about latching my baby on. However, that pattern of frequent nursing didn't stop for months so I liked to think of her frequent nursing as snacking rather than "cluster feeding." A lactation consultant had never made it to my room by the time we'd left the hospital. My milk had come in, but I was also getting very sore. Within days at home, I was extremely sore and had cracked nipples. My husband would apologize when it was time for nursing because he saw my pain. We even thought a breast pump might ease the pain, but I quickly realized that it hurt just as much, if not more, and abandoned that idea. Looking back, I realize now how much I had to learn.
I made an appointment with a lactation consultant and I had high hopes that she would "fix" something and ease my pain. She corrected Anna's latch, gave me some pointers on positioning and using "props" such as pillows for support. In the following weeks, the pain went away and my cracked nipples healed just fine.
A friend brought me to an LLL meeting when Anna was six weeks old. It was a nice meeting and everyone was friendly. I understood LLL to be a place that moms go to find support they may not get elsewhere and to answer questions that they have. Since I had support at home and had had my questions answered by a lactation consultant, I wasn't sure I would come back. I took the new member folder and put it aside. Within a few days I received a card in the mail. It was handwritten, from one of the Leaders, thanking me for attending and participating in the previous meeting. It was very personal and specific and I was delighted that someone took the time to do this for me. I put the card in the folder and reconsidered another meeting.
At my next meeting, Anna was 10 weeks old. By this time, Anna was a colicky baby, both at home and in the car. This resulted in two speeding tickets trying to rush home in her first months. At the meeting, she cried and cried. I left the room and walked the hallway with her, nervous and sweating. A Leader checked on me and suggested that I come inside and put Anna to the breast. I didn't think it would work but, to my surprise, it did and she nursed herself to sleep. I didn't participate much in that meeting but sat in my chair, at ease because my nursing baby was asleep at my breast and I found a place where her nursing and even her crying were okay. I realized then that I had found a special group.
I have since been going to meetings every month. We are lucky to have a very active LLL Group that has several meetings per month. Anna is 20 months old now and we've had our share of problems -- multiple bouts of mastitis, plugged ducts, milk blisters, a nursing strike, and several episodes of teething and biting. LLL has been there for us through it all to offer support and advice. It was naive of me to think I wouldn't need any further support after our initial weeks at home. I bought my first sling from LLL and one of the Leaders was extremely helpful in showing me how to use it. I don't know what I would do without it. Anna is my attached nursing sling baby and we spend the majority of our day together in this way. We also attended an LLL area conference in 2007 in Florida, USA and had the great pleasure of meeting Marian Thompson, co-Founder of LLL. We look forward to attending the 2008 conference as well.
We've made most of our mommy and baby friends through LLL meetings. Some of us started meeting outside of LLL and soon had formed our own "like minded moms" playgroup. We plan many activities together. We are blessed to have found a place of support for this way of mothering. It is in these ways that LLL has made such a major impact in my life. I owe a big thanks to the Leaders and members of the South Seminole LLL Group in Central Florida!