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LLL in Turkey

By Monica Winter
Winston Salem, NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 5, September-October 2002, p. 175

Being a woman in the military or the wife of a military member has unique challenges, especially when families are stationed overseas. At no time is that more true than when a new baby comes along. Many women have babies when they are far away from home, family, and the usual support system afforded to other new mothers. When this happens, military mothers must become their own family support system.

I delivered my first baby, Karis Amanda, and had a rough period in the early stages of breastfeeding with engorgement, sore nipples, and multiple questions about whether or not I was feeding her properly. Even though I had read quite a bit of information about breastfeeding, there was no support system in place for breastfeeding mothers at our small military station in Izmir, Turkey. Having "book knowledge" about breastfeeding was not the same as having personal one-on-one support and relationships with women who have had breastfeeding experience.

With the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I decided to start a breastfeeding support group. I knew the next step was to come up with a plan. My first thought was to find the La Leche League Web site to see what was available. I became quite motivated when I looked on www.lalecheleague.org and found so much helpful information. I corresponded online with Kathy Baker and Sheryl Denson. After learning about the different options, I decided LLL's Breastfeeding Resource Center was the best suited to our situation. With the books, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and BREASTFEEDING PURE AND SIMPLE, plus multiple brochures, pamphlets, tear-off sheets, and LLL catalogues, we had plenty of resources to get us going.

At our first meeting last year, I was pleasantly surprised to have eight women attend. We have now grown to 17. Our meetings include pregnant women as well as mothers who are currently breastfeeding or have breastfed in the past. We always find something to talk about. A few of the topics we have discussed include nursing a toddler, benefits of human milk, the breastfeeding mother's diet, breastfeeding in public, and special problems related to returning to work while breastfeeding.

Having other women to talk to makes such a positive difference. We are fortunate to have a group of women with a wide range of breastfeeding experiences. We all benefit by learning how each mother overcame her specific obstacles. Educating ourselves on the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother also gives us motivation to keep breastfeeding our babies. If nothing else, we can at least cheer each other on and say, "You can do it!" That definitely helps especially when the going gets tough.

Last updated Friday, September 8, 2006 by njb.
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