Rachel O’Leary tells us what it’s like to come to Trumpington Drop-in
You know when you’ve had some – your step has more spring in it, your chest feels less tight with worry, you can breathe again.
You know what’s happening with your body and your baby, why there’s a problem, and you have a plan of action to move forward for the next few days. And you know who can answer your next questions, and where to come for more help if you need it.
The weight of loneliness has been lifted from your shoulders, and the feeling of guilt evaporates because now you understand how this situation arose and that it’s not your fault. You can focus on your baby again, realizing that whatever’s going on, this tiny soul is not to blame either: he’s not ‘lazy’ or ‘naughty’; he’s working as hard as he can to help you. You and he are on the same team.
When you come to a Breastfeeding Drop-In, you’re welcomed in with a cup of tea and a biscuit, or glass of water. There may be a few formalities – a form to fill in, details to jot down. If you’re waiting for your turn with one of the Breastfeeding Counsellors, there are books and leaflets to read, and another great resource – the other parents in the room who are also making the journey through difficulties. They may have experiences to share with you, or encouragement to offer.
When you get to talk with one of the Breastfeeding Counsellors, you may notice several things happening as you pour out your story. She will tune in to you quickly and listen with care. She’s not just picking up clues to what’s going on, she’s getting to know you and feel with you in a warm way. She’ll stay sufficiently outside of the pain to be able to focus on how to help you. She will never judge you or push you to make a particular decision.
She may ask some open-ended questions, to find out more about what’s happening. Using the knowledge she’s learned, plus long experience of the people who’ve trained her, she’ll be able to help you figure out what the problem is and where it’s come from. Together you can work on positioning and attachment – always the first step!
With any luck, you’ll soon hear some deep gulping as the baby gets a deeper attachment and gets to work in the way he knows how. If that’s not happening yet, or there’s still pain, your helper will try some other techniques; maybe adjusting the baby’s position, or looking for other things that might be happening: an infection perhaps, or an abnormality in the baby’s mouth.
As you work through the possibilities, your helper will be explaining things to you – what’s going on inside your breasts, how milk is made, how the baby gets lots and gets a good mix of juice and cream, how he controls the flow and tells you what he needs. Mothers often feel relieved when they understand their bodies and their babies. It’s empowering to have knowledge rather than a list of rules – especially if everybody they meet gives them a different set of rules with no explanations!
There’ll be a chance to discuss follow-up – whether you can see a different specialist for particular treatments, or your GP, or simply come back for ongoing support.
Once your urgent questions have been addressed, you may enjoy talking to the other mothers in the group. A mother at this group let out a deep sigh as she came into the room; “So it’s not just me!” she said. Good friendships can be made when women are going through similar experiences with their babies.
The time together will probably end with your Breastfeeding Counsellor going over what you’ve talked about, perhaps writing down a summary. There may be leaflets to help you remember the bits that vanish from your sleep-deprived brain.
What’s special about our Breastfeeding Drop-In?
The team of Breastfeeding Counsellors, and one IBCLC, who staff the group every week are qualified and experienced. We’ve worked together for some years. Our volunteers are also trained as breastfeeding supporters, and have other skills such as helping with slings and baby carriers. They provide the warm welcome that helps us all relax, even when the drop-in is busy. We have fun together and enjoy each other’s company as well as sharing values: breastfeeding support is our passion and we believe that mothering is an important force for good in our world.
Please help us continue this unique and valuable resource – for the babies!