Why Should I Join a Breastfeeding Support Group?

With today’s availability of information on the Internet, new or expectant parents may decide to forgo attending traditional breastfeeding classes or support groups for what they find on the web. At Burdett Birth Center, however, we encourage new parents to participate in these information-rich experiences to learn best practices from other parents and get breastfeeding instruction and support directly from our certified lactation consultants. In fact, research indicates that parents breastfeed longer and report more satisfaction with their breastfeeding experiences when they attend support groups early in the post-partum period.

Carrie Kimball, BSN, RN, IBCLC, one of Burdett’s two certified lactation consultants, leads our evening and daytime Breastfeeding Support Groups in Troy, NY.  She also teaches Breastfeeding Basics and the Back to Work/School/Life Program, a class that gives essential advice on pumping and transitioning back to work or school.

For parents who are struggling or worried about breastfeeding, these support groups are invaluable. Hearing other parents describe their early challenges and how they worked through them is helpful for new parents in understanding that they are not alone, and things do become easier with time, even if breastfeeding is going generally well. By hearing parents of older babies discussing the breastfeeding-specific changes they are experiencing, new parents learn about how to troubleshoot common concerns when it’s their turn. Parents and instructors don’t just discuss breastfeeding either! Topics like sleep, infant development, safety concerns, starting solids and returning to work are frequently brought up.

Observing babies at a variety of ages and developmental stages is an added benefit of attending in-person support groups. “Being able to see babies at different stages of development – noticing babies sitting up or using their arms with intention – gives parents a broader perspective on how much their baby will change in the coming months,” explains Carrie.

Further, Carrie shares that for parents who have reservations with breastfeeding in new or public places, a support group is an easy place to start: “Support group is a great way to begin experimenting with nursing outside the house. It provides a supportive place that can offer strategies and ideas for managing positions, and providing the level of modesty that a particular parent is comfortable with.”

Parents drive the conversation in our breastfeeding support groups, but we are here to answer questions, offer advice and facilitate evidence-based discussion. Each support group is different, as it’s molded by who attends and which issues they are facing at the time. Typically, the daytime support groups are attended by more parents with infants in the 0-3 range, while our evening groups see parents who are pumping and have returned to work. Each group, however, discusses older baby topics and what to expect next, including starting solids, normal infant development and managing ages and stages as they affect breastfeeding.

Occasionally the support groups are focused on special topics and we invite a speaker on those parenting-related topics to join us. Parents are always encouraged to suggest or request specific topics be addressed.

At Burdett, we actively strive to make our breastfeeding support groups accessible and welcoming to all parents. Each group take places in the Hillside neighborhood of Troy, making travel by public transportation or foot simple for Troy residents. Parents are encouraged to call if they have any concerns about how the group space will feel for them. We emphasize and understand that infant feeding is an individual decision that takes into account many factors within the family, and anyone is welcome to attend whether exclusively nursing from the breast, or exclusively pumping to bottle feed. Many parents who attend our groups may be using formula, as well, to meet their babies’ nutritional needs. This is a judgment free zone. Burdett Birth Center offers an intentionally welcoming space to LGBT and gender non-conforming parents, and to families whose relationship structures and living situations may be vastly different than most.

Our support groups are free and open to the community at large, and registration is NOT required. Parents may drop in any time, and stay as long as they like. Siblings are also welcome to attend. Please click here to learn more or give us a call at (518) 271-3393 for more information!

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