Tag Archives: la leche league

La Leche League

I just returned home from a wonderful evening filled with mommies, babies, boobies and milk. And before your mind starts to wander to places it shouldn’t, I’m referring to a breastfeeding class for expectant parents sponsored by my local La Leche League (LLL).

An active member and advocate of LLL for over a year now, I was asked to sit on a panel of experienced parents to help answer questions and share my journey of breastfeeding with expectant mothers and families. Some of the topics covered included the benefits of breastfeeding, how to get started breastfeeding, different ways to hold your baby while nursing as well as how can one seek help and support. I was honored to be a part of this wonderful group of breastfeeding mothers, offering their stories to pregnant mothers-to-be.

I was first introduced to LLL back in college. As a Family Studies and Human Development Major, I learned about each stage in life from birth to late adulthood. While we were studying infancy, we had a guest speaker from LLL who came to share the importance of breastfeeding and its benefits with the class. I was so inspired by her presentation I felt moved to become a volunteer and help spread the word. However, at the time, I wasn’t yet a mother and therefore hadn’t had the first hand experience of breastfeeding.

The mission of LLL is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. The key component of LLL is the mother-to-mother support, which to me is what makes LLL so wonderful. Not only does it make you feel more comfortable to talk to your peers, but no one knows more about breastfeeding challenges and successes than the mothers themselves.

Tonight, as I was sharing my journey through breastfeeding with the mothers-to-be, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. For one, I am continually grateful that I have had a successful breastfeeding journey. Secondly, my desire to help spread the word about breastfeeding, sparked by my initial introduction to LLL, was fulfilled. Although I am constantly advocating for breastfeeding in my every day life, this was my first “official” presentation on a panel. It made me feel good to give back, especially after all the wonderful help and support I have gotten from other mothers along the way. I look forward to continuing to be involved in similar presentations and volunteer opportunities. (side note: can you guess what I was wearing? duh…my chucks!)

Before you go, I wanted to share a wonderful video with you. If you are unfamiliar with LLL as a whole, or have ever wondered how it got started, please enjoy this quick look into the history of LLL. It is truly inspirational.

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5 Nursing Essentials

We all know how I feel about “stuff“, but sometimes “stuff” can actually prove itself to be helpful.  And in the case of nursing, anything you can do to support your success and make things a little easier, is totally worth it.  So here are a few items that I found extremely helpful on my journey as a breastfeeding mother.

1.  Nursing Tops:  Out of all the items listed below, this is by far the item I found most important.  Not only can a nursing top make breastfeeding quick and easy, but it can help ensure that mom stays comfortable and well supported, which can make all the difference.  When it comes to nursing tops, there are a variety of different options.  Here is a quick summary of the three styles I used most.

  • Nursing Bra:  To be honest, I don’t even know what a regular bra looks like anymore.  I purchased my first nursing bra when I was still pregnant with Harper and have been wearing them ever since.  The key to a good nursing bra is to have one that is washable, breathable and comfortable.  When it comes to sizing, I would recommend consulting a sales associate, as your size will fluctuate over time.  I had a stash of five nursing bras because between leakage, baby spit up and every day wear, you will accumulate a lot of laundry.  The last thing you need to run out of is nursing bras.  So the investment will be worth it.
  • Nursing Tank:  This is usually an alternative to a nursing bra that can be just as supportive.  They are great for sleeping, layering under your favorite shirt, or paired with a cute coverall.  They come in an assortment of different styles and colors.  I found the cotton ones to be most comfortable and easy to clean.  I would definitely recommend have a few of these hanging up in your closet as well.
  • Button Down Shirt:  Although there are many fancy dancy nursing tops out there that allow you to access your baby’s food source discretely, I didn’t feel it necessary to invest in clothing that would only be useful to me when I was nursing.  I decided to spend my money on cute button down shirts that would last me beyond Harper’s breastfeeding years.  For use at home, I stocked up on button down pajama tops.  These make nighttime feedings a breeze, while keeping mom comfy and warm.

2.  Nursing Pads:  If it were not for these puppies, I would be a soggy mess.  I have been very fortunately to have an overabundant milk supply.  And at 11 months, am still changing my breast pads frequently.  I was never able to use the cotton reusable pads, because of my constant leakage but for my friends who did, they were very happy with them.  I have always used disposable pads and make sure I have a large supply with me at all times.

When Harper was first born and we were still in the hospital, the lactation consultant suggested as I use these.

Kind of look like flying saucers right?  Anyways, these were a great alternative to breast pads in the beginning as they allowed me nipples breath while my breasts were still acclimating to the whole nursing thing.  They also help keep nipples erect between feedings, while breast pads can flatten them making it hard for baby to latch.

3.  Nipple Cream:  Although I didn’t use lanolin a whole bunch, many women swear by it.  It is 100% safe for mom and baby and provides soothing relief for dry, sore and tender nipples.  Many companies make their own version of it so you have tons of options to choose from.

4.  Burp Cloths:  You can never have too many of these.  They come in handy for a variety of different things.  For feedings, it is always good to have a spare burp sloth handy to clean up after any spit up.  But, I always kept an extra one for myself because whenever Harper would unlatch my milk stream would continue to flow, christening everything around me.  So I would use a clean burp cloth to apply pressure to my breast to help stop the flow.

5.  Water/Snacks:  As a nursing mother, it is very important that you continue to nourish yourself by eating frequently and drinking a lot of water.  Your body is working overtime to produce milk for your baby.  So in order to avoid getting dehydrated and maintain a healthy milk supply it is always best to eat and drink when your baby does.  When you are nursing you will find that all of a sudden you might get incredibly parched or ravenously hungry.  Therefore, it is always a good idea to have a bottle of water or a snack on hand.  Things like nuts, fruit and crackers are easy things that travel well.

A great way to create a successful breastfeeding environment at home is to set up a nursing station.  It is always nice to have everything you need at arms reach.  This can include the items listed above, in addition to a box of tissue, hair ties, a stash of pillows and a small lamp for nighttime feedings.  In our home, I had a small station in every room so that I was always prepared whenever Harper decided she needed to eat.

In addition to the items listed above, having access to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group can make a world of difference in your breastfeeding journey.  La Leche League is an international organization that provides encouragement and education for breastfeeding mothers through peer support.  It is a great way to meet other nursing moms that you can both learn from and share your experiences with.  Click here to find a group nearest you.

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