We are not meant to mother alone – and this year’s World Breastfeeding Week challenges us to thank the parents who have gone before us and encourage and mentor the pregnant families and friends in our lives.
So, here’s a shout-out to my friend Susan Lanterman, who took me under her wing when I was a bewil-dered new mom. Susan had three kids — and she had breastfed the first one for a whole six months, longer than anyone I knew.
He was so cute and smart. It seemed like she didn’t sweat the small stuff, and she loved those kids to pieces and wanted to do what was right. She was just the right mentor for me in those early days.
Soon we were running a mom’s get-together, and later I became a La Leche League (LLL) Leader and then an IBCLC (Interna-tional Board Certified Lacta- tion Consultant) — and then a nurse. I learned so much about mothers and babies, and about myself. I am still in awe of the way mother- hood changed me.
One of the most impor- tant things I learned was about how women turn into mothers. I’m sure there must be people out there who are in love and confident from the get-go — but not me! I worried about everything.
Of course, I also read everything — and sometimes that was part of my problem. Good thing I didn’t have internet access at the time. I prob-ably would’ve been paralyzed.
Getting together with other moms was one of the best learning experi-ences ever. My first LLL meeting, there were two other babies born the same week as my daughter, all six months old. I was so worried that Phoebe would never crawl and at that meeting she was her usual self, she would just sort of lay there and talk.
One of the other babies was sitting up quite nicely, and the other one was airplaning. But the other two were clearly not as verbal
as my little babbler.
And that was the gift:
Each baby was in a different place. There is a diversity of gifts and abilities and personalities — even at six months. Even at three months. Suddenly I stopped worrying so much. Here’s my challenge to you… Are you a mother? Have you said thank you to the parents who have emboldened you? Maybe it was a breastfeeding couplet at the farmers’ market. Maybe it was a friend who shared her joys, struggles and wisdom. Take a moment to send a text, make a phone call, send a card.
Are you pregnant? Don’t be afraid to tell a friend, “Hey, that is one good looking baby. How did you guys get to this point?” That friend may have some very good advice for you — and would love to share. Nobody ever tells us we’re doing great. This is a gift to your friend or family member.
Are you a parent who’s feeling grateful? Why not take World Breastfeeding Week as an opportunity to say thanks! And I don’t mean to leave out good help at the hospital or at the doctor’s office — we often hear the complaints but not always the kudos.
I love new moms’ groups. We are not made to mother alone! Check out New Moms Network at Brattleboro Memorial
(Wednesday mornings, run by Sally Pen-nington RN, IBCLC and the Winston Prouty Center) or join the group on Facebook (Brat-tleboro New Moms Network). There is also a Moms Club at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene that meets Tuesday mornings.
It takes a while to figure out that yes, you are safe here. Everybody’s baby fusses, and every mother looks like they don’t fit into their clothes yet. And nobody slept all night!
Soon we are looking at the older babies and their moms. Does that baby really roll
over? Can a baby drool at three months? What kind of diapers are those?
Oh, that baby smiles – and another one is giggling, I know I heard it. And my baby will look like that — there’s hope!
A mom with a three- or four-month-old has found her groove. She is ready to share what her baby has taught her, not only about his own little self, but about her own self. And she’s ready to start being good to other moms — a mentor.
So, wherever you are on the continuum,
“Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding,” and know that you are making the future a better place for us all.
Dawn Kersula MA, RN, IBCLC, FACCE is on the faculty of Lactation Education Con-sultants and worked as an educator and lactation consultant at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for more than 30 years.
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK
Events Planned Aug. 1-7 to Support Infant Health
As part of World Breastfeeding Week, the Brattleboro com-munity and local businesses will host events during the first week of August with the theme to “empower parents, enable breastfeeding.” This annual celebration of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition” is an invita-tion to learn about the importance of breastfeeding to infant and mother’s health, and to join with others in promoting this best practice.
The Vermont Department of Health’s Brattleboro office en-courages and supports breastfeeding because of its important health benefits for both baby and mom.
“In addition to the importance of the mother-baby bond-ing experience, infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of several chronic diseases. Breastfeeding also promotes improved immune protection and cognitive development,” said Deb Kitzmiller, a public health nurse at the department’s Brattleboro Office of Local Health. “Studies also show that those who breastfeed have reduced risks of breast and ovarian cancers and postpartum depression.”
Kitzmiller said that getting and supporting people to breastfeed is just the start. The local health team also works with employers to create breastfeeding-friendly workplaces.
Here’s what Brattleboro has planned for
World Breastfeeding Week:
The Big Latch On: Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 6 p.m., on the lawn of the Centre Congregational Church in downtown Brattleboro (rain location inside the church). Nursing parents and their children will gather to join a worldwide count of nursing children at 5:30 p.m. Learn more at biglatchon.org.
Social Media: As part of its “empower parents, enable breastfeeding” campaign, the Brattleboro Local Health Office will share photos on its Facebook page of breastfeeding indi-viduals, along with short stories of who or what empowered them to breastfeed. Look for these, like, comment and share! Follow World Breastfeeding Week on Twitter: #WBW2019.
The Breast of Brattleboro Award: This award will be pre-sented to the person who best exemplifies this year’s theme of “empower parents, enable breastfeeding.” Vote for your fa-vorite breastfeeding champion by emailing debra.kitzmiller@ vermont.gov.
For information about breastfeeding and why it’s best for babies and moms, visit healthvermont.gov/breastfeeding. To learn more about the full range of local health services, visit healthvermont.gov/local/Brattleboro and follow the Brattle-boro Office of Local Health on Facebook and Twitter.