Many mothers find themselves struggling with unanticipated breastfeeding challenges in the early days. Added to postpartum hormones, lack of sleep, and stress from a variety of sources, and a breastfeeding problem can often be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Something’s got to give, and all too often, it’s breastfeeding that takes the hit.
So what’s a new mom to do when breastfeeding isn’t going her way? For starters, get help! Help can come in a variety of ways, so let’s take a look at the options.
A Breastfeeding Buddy
One of your co-workers had a baby a few months before you, and you know she is breastfeeding. Call her/text her/friend her! Don’t be shy, breastfeeding brings moms together. Invite her over for a “playdate” and talk shop…how did she deal with her sore nipples? Did she bed-share? How did her partner help with breastfeeding? Did her baby wake all night to feed? Talking with other moms can help you learn what is normal newborn behavior and what might be an actual problem, and best of all, it lets you know you’re not alone. Sometimes, a friendly, experienced ear is all a mom needs to gain confidence in breastfeeding.
A Breastfeeding Support Group
You were in Babies R Us registering for baby gear and saw a notice about a local breastfeeding support group. But you don’t remember the details. I’m here to tell you that the tri-state area is full of breastfeeding support groups to support all lifestyles and schedules. Google will usually turn up several options; here (and at the end of this article) you’ll find a listing of everything within spitting distance of Hagerstown.
A Volunteer Peer Supporter
La Leche League. La Leche League is a mother-to-mother breastfeeding support organization founded in the 1950s. The organization continues to evolve and change to meet today’s mothers wherever they may be in their breastfeeding journey. Some La Leche League Leaders offer free home visits to help tired new moms gain confidence with breastfeeding. La Leche League Leaders are trained to support moms with common breastfeeding challenges and to educate about normal breastfed baby behavior. La Leche League Leaders know when to refer to a higher level of care.
WIC Peer Counselors. The WIC Peer Counseling program is alive and well in Hagerstown, Frederick, Waynesboro, and many other cities in the tri-state area. WIC Peer Counselors are trained to help moms with routine breastfeeding issues and to provide basic education about normal breastfed baby behavior. WIC Peer Counselors will call breastfeeding moms who are enrolled in the WIC program to check in on how things are going, but if you’re a WIC mom, you can also speak to a Peer Counselor anytime you have a breastfeeding question or problem. Peer Counselors know when to refer a mom to a higher level of breastfeeding care.
There are a lot of “lactation consultants” out there, and an internet search can yield a confusing alphabet soup of credentials. Not all credentials are the same, so know who you are hiring and what their education and training are. The highest level of lactation credential is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). IBCLCs are the breast and breastfeeding experts and are highly skilled members of the healthcare team. Their services are often reimbursable by insurance or by flexible spending or health savings accounts. IBCLCs are bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect your privacy, and they communicate securely with your and your baby’s healthcare providers to ensure a continuity of care for your family.
Some breastfeeding challenges are easily addressed with subtle positioning changes, additional education for mom, or simple tricks to improve baby’s latch. Other challenges are not so simply fixed, and may be part of a larger issue that only an IBCLC will have the experience and education to evaluate and assess.
Other Community Services for New Moms
Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Group, Hagerstown. Facilitated by Hagerstown Birth and currently being held the first Tuesday of each month, 10 am, at the Robinwood Professional Building, this group is for any mother, breastfeeding or not, who needs support in the postpartum days, weeks, and months. Often, we are not prepared for the way our lives will change after we have a baby, and we are left feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, sad, or anxious. These feelings are common but should be addressed! The Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Group is a safe place for moms to explore their feelings and share with one another while learning coping skills. Babies and children are welcome at this meeting. Please email Hagerstown Birth at firstname.lastname@example.org for up-to-date information about the group’s meeting location, as a new location is currently being sought.
Postpartum Support Maryland. Provides resources to families suffering from postpartum depression and raises awareness within the community. Warm line available to help moms who need immediate help and referral to counseling services. http://postpartummd.org.
State health and human services
2-1-1 Maryland. Health and human services resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. www.211md.org. Providing referrals for a variety of services, including mental health counseling and parenting. In Maryland, dial 2-1-1 to speak to a representative.
Pennsylvania 2-1-1 Southwest. Health and human services resources for southwestern Pennsylvania, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. www.pa211sw.org. In Pennsylvania, dial 2-1-1 to speak to a representative.
West Virginia 2-1-1. Referrals to health and human services resources in West Virginia, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. www.wv211.org. In West Virginia, dial 2-1-1 to speak to a representative.
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Breastfeeding Support Groups in the Tri-State Area
Blue Ridge Breastfeeding
Drop-in Breastfeeding Café—West Virginia
Last Friday of each month, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Riverside Midwifery, 3620 Buckeystown Pike, Frederick, MD
Drop-in Breastfeeding Café—Pennsylvania
Second Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
March Chiropractic, 203 South Potomac Street, Waynesboro, PA
Drop-in Breastfeeding Café—Hagerstown…New location TBD
Although preregistration isn’t necessary, it’s helpful if you text Megan at 240-217-7504 (WV/MD) or Marah at 717-658-0779 (PA) if you plan to attend, or join the Facebook event for the appropriate month. Follow Blue Ridge Breastfeeding on Facebook for Event updates. An IBCLC is present to answer questions and help with basic challenges. Mothers may weigh baby before and after a feeding.
La Leche League of Hagerstown
Evening meeting is first Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. WIC Office, 947 N Burhans Avenue, Hagerstown, MD 21740.
Daytime meeting is third Tuesday of each month, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Concordia Lutheran Church, 17906 Garden Lane , Hagerstown, MD 21740.
For more information or for phone support, contact a Leader: Megan (301-665-9226; email@example.com). LLL of Hagerstown is on Facebook; request to join.
La Leche League of Greencastle/Waynesboro
Meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Five Forks Brethren in Christ Church (9244 Five Forks Road), in meeting space Room A20. For more information or phone support, contact a Leader: Lorraine (717-762-9094; firstname.lastname@example.org), Marah (717-658-0779; email@example.com).
La Leche League of Jefferson County
Meetings are held at 10:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. For more information or phone support, contact a Leader: Kristin (304-264-9240), Mendy (304-260-0456), Sheila (240-818-3034).
Meritus Medical Center
Breastfeeding Support Group . Robinwood Professional Center, Suite 122. Second and fourth Friday of each month, 1:00-2:30 p.m. No pregregistration necessary. An IBCLC is present to answer questions about breastfeeding. Mothers can weigh baby before and after breastfeeding.