In today’s fast paced culture, where many of us have no close friends or family nearby (or any that breastfeed) it can be so easy to type our questions into Google or Facebook, hoping for a miracle answer. Oh there it is, THAT’s why my baby is doing that! This can be a great way to feel connected to your community, other parents and not feel so alone. Until you work up the courage to get outside with your new baby (what if they poop! Or cry! Or want to feed!!!!!) it can be nice to have someone (anyone!) to talk to. Especially other parents who have experienced the newly postpartum worry and anxiety and lived to tell about it (or even have more kids!!). My concern with this way of getting advice or help for breastfeeding includes;
Experience – Parents have had (on average) 1-5 children. Maybe they know another 20 or so children (friends and families children). In the training to be an IBCLC, I needed to spend a minimum of 500 hours with breastfeeding families, mentored by an IBCLC. If an average visit was 2 hours, then that is over 250 families! My point is advice from other parents is based on their goals, situation and advice they were given for their particular situation. In this training I also see babies from birth until weaning so that is a wide range of ages, milestones and different techniques for different age children.
Questions -Then there is the history taking; an IBCLC asks LOTS of questions. Sometimes they are personal, and there is never judgement, we just need to know what is going on, what YOU feel comfortable with and what you can do at home. It doesn’t help anyone if I can latch the baby or get you pain-free, because I’m not coming home with you. My goal is to teach you how to get a pain-free latch, tell when the baby is getting milk and what to do when they are not. The people responding on Facebook are often quick to give advice (from a place of wanting to help of course!) without asking questions. In regards to breastfeeding sometimes this can be outdated, not evidence based or even detrimental to breastfeeding.
In person – The computer and virtual world is great but it does lack the hands on help. Often a full exam of the baby and assistance trying multiple positions can be helpful in person. Finding comfortable ways to hold your baby, while enabling the baby to get milk effectively can take some time. I find it so helpful to see how families are coping with a new child, where they breastfeed, where the baby sleeps; all these pieces come together when I am making a plan for a family to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.
Cost- Facebook and online help is great because it’s free (other than what you paid for the computer and the internet connection). There is other free breastfeeding help available too; through public health, in the hospital you delivered at, your midwives. But sometimes that help is not enough. They maybe familiar with babies of a certain age or experiencing certain difficulties but if the help you are getting right now is not getting you to your goals or it still hurts or you are having to feed the baby at the breast/pump/topping up with formula;look at the cost of not meeting those goals. Sometimes a short-term outlay of a larger amount seems like a lot, however if you look at the cost of the alternative for a year, the cost in the beginning is actually not that much.
So reach out, ask for help, ask why you are not reaching your goals, ask families not for advice but who has helped them reach their goals.
If you ever have any questions or comments, something you want me to write about? Feel free to contact me.