Build Your Support System

Young mothers with babies

Recently, a friend of mine said to me, “I seem to have misplaced my support system.” It’s easy to do. While you are still thinking about what you genuinely need in your life during the new year, ask if you have the support you need. For new parents, the new reality can sometimes mean you need to adjust or even rebuild as you find that you need a different kind of support than you did before children.

For me, the support system came in the form of a play group. A group of parents who had planned homebirths within a few months of one another had also taken a birth relaxation class together. We knew one another pregnant, and we continued to see one another as we gave birth to our babies over several months. When the children were tiny, they didn’t play much, but we as adults needed the time we had together. We sat around breastfeeding and talking. Occasionally, we invited others from our community to join us, and the play group turned into time for the children as well as for the parents. Now, our children are teenagers and close friends.

The kind of support system you seek should be driven by your need. Do you need breastfeeding support? La Leche League could be the support you need. Do you want to talk about diapers or parenting? Try a Real Diaper Circle or a Holistic Moms Network local chapter. Do you want someone to walk to the park with? Get together with new parents in your neighborhood.

Years ago, Mothering Magazine published an article called “Finding Your Tribe” on each of us seeking or building the support system we need as parents. They have continued to have a Finding Your Tribe section in the Mothering forums. If you don’t know of any local resources, look in the Mothering forums to find any posts by other parents in your area who are looking just as you are.

Stop long enough to ask if you have what you need. If not, you are not alone. You can find other parents so you can share support for your parenting journey. Good luck finding your tribe.

Image © Anatoliy Samara |

The Business Case for Breastfeeding

Working mother with baby

If you could convince your employer that a program would help retain experienced employees, reduce sick days, and lower health insurance costs, would your employer jump to find out more? The program is The Business Case for Breastfeeding, a comprehensive U.S. government program to educate employers and human resource managers about the value of creating lactation support programs in the workplace.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has lined up the business savings with numbers that make it easy to see the benefit of companies supporting breastfeeding mothers. The numbers come from companies who have programs in place because they have studied the benefits for their bottom lines.

  • Twice as many absences to take care of sick children with formula-fed babies.
  • CIGNA found health care savings, fewer prescriptions, and fewer absences from work with lactation support.
  • Several companies found higher retention rates post-maternity leave with lactation support.
  • Even predominantly male workplaces have found an increase in loyalty of both male and female workers with introduction of lactation support programs.

The materials available include a brochure for managers, a brochure with easy steps to support breastfeeding employees, a tool kit (flyers, posters, forms, and other resources), employee guide, marketing materials, and a training webinar.

If you anticipate wanting to return to a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, you can also use many of the educational materials in The Business Case for Breastfeeding kit to give your employer reasons to consider lactation support as a small business move.

Business Case for Breastfeeding

Image © Robert Bocian |

Why a Breastfeeding Support Group Helps

Breastfeeding babyBreastfeeding is natural. It is what breasts are for, obviously. But breastfeeding does not necessarily come naturally. Breastfeeding is a learned skill that can easily be passed on woman to woman from the experienced mother to the new mother.

So, the question for a new mother becomes, how do I find that group of experienced women to share her breastfeeding experience and answer my questions.

Before my first child was born, I took a breastfeeding class with other parents-to-be. The simple techniques I learned got me through the first few days of breastfeeding with great confidence, then I had more questions and continued to have questions through the years I breastfed.

What I really wanted was ongoing support not from doctors with recommendations and policies but from other women. It really helped me to have a mother-to-mother support group.

The need for support doesn’t go away in a few months. When I was pregnant with my second child three years after my first was born, I was told by many so-called experts that I would have to stop breastfeeding my toddler for the safety of my baby. I doubted this, so I asked and asked until I found a mother experienced in tandem nursing. She told me how she had made this work, and I successfully tandem nursed for the next couple of years until my oldest weaned.

Having an experienced breastfeeding mother share what she knows is invaluable in helping a new mother and even an experienced mother facing a new situation to learn techniques and confidence. Seek out a local group of mothers to be sure that you have the support you need when you need it.

Local Breastfeeding Support Resources

  • Ask your doula, midwife, or other birth care provider what local resources are available for breastfeeding support. This is a great way to find out about very local resources that aren’t attached to international organizations or large institutions.
  • Ask at a local birth center. Many birth centers hold classes for pregnant women and support groups for new mothers.
  • Ask other breastfeeding mothers where they find support.
  • Contact La Leche League International. They provide lists of local meetings in Canada, in the U.S., and internationally.

When mothering is new to you, it helps to have experienced mothers to answer your questions. In time, you will be that mother sharing your experience with a new mother who needs a

Last week I mentioned an attempt by Nestle to woo bloggers. Last week was a Nestle-free week for many breastfeeding advocates. You can read several articles about Nestle at the PhD in Mothering blog. For over 30 years international breastfeeding advocates have boycotted Nestle for marketing breastmilk substitutes in less developed countries, contributing to poor infant health. Defending breastfeeding against the unethical marketing of infant formula playing against the spirit if not the letter of the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes.

As of now, we have renewed our efforts to cover breastfeeding topics at Eco Baby Steps.

Image © Niderlander |