You see, someone who just thinks breastfeeding is cool and thinks you should breastfeed isn’t a breastfeeding counsellor.
Someone who tells you what to do isn’t a breastfeeding counsellor.
Someone who can’t explain how breastfeeding works isn’t a breastfeeding counsellor.
That person who can’t help you when things are tough, other than suggesting bottles isn’t a breastfeeding counsellor.
That mum who breastfed for years with never a problem and tells you it’s easy, isn’t a breastfeeding counsellor, either.
THIS is a breastfeeding counsellor:
We talk about ‘support’ a lot. It’s a word that means many things. Mostly we want it to mean hold you up when things are tough. We also want it to mean be led by you, validating your decisions and giving you freedom to choose. It doesn’t mean push you in a direction of our choosing, or telling you off or judging you. So you’re using bottles? We might ask why but only because we’re interested in YOU and YOUR story. You matter.
And this: We studied A LOT for A LONG TIME to become a breastfeeding counsellor. We know some stuff. We have to learn about the physiology of lactation, anatomy, history, sociology and the way culture impacts on you and your baby. We study politics and psychology. And we practice ways to help latch your baby on in effective and comfortable ways. We have to learn how to teach you, with our body and demonstration doll or with just our words painting pictures if we’re on the phone. And most importantly, we learn counselling skills – there’s a clue in our title, you see?
It takes many months to qualify, and after that, we embark on a lifetime of learning.
And also this: We campaign to make things easier for you. You deserve to have adequate, skilled, qualified and easily accessible breastfeeding support if you want to breastfeed and factual information on bottle feeding formula if you want or need to. We campaign to make sure all areas have peer supporters – mothers who can provide information and friendship as you start your parenting journey. And we campaign to protect both breastfeeding and formula feeding parents from the excessive, rule-breaking marketing of the formula companies, because it is advertising that makes formula way more expensive than it needs to be.
Oh, and this. This is intelligent tea drinking. If we meet you face to face we’ll probably offer you one. If we speak on the phone you can bet we’ll have one at our elbow and ask if you have one too. Sharing a brew helps us feel comfortable with each other. It helps us take turns in the conversation. It’s comforting and oils the wheels of conversation.
And this too: Total focus on you and your baby. Joy in your achievements, companionship as you meet challenges and overcome them. Oh and welcome to our strange relationships with our demonstration dolls. They usually have a name. Yes, I know, eccentric.
Aaaaaaaand this: Support groups, breastfeeding picnics, creating community, friendship and unstinting support however long you choose to breastfeed.
Together with this: We want to provide you with useful signposts to resources that you can access in your own time. During this time of covid-19 we are providing all manner of support via our phones and computers! We are using skype, zoom, whatsapp, facebook messenger and many other clever and interesting forms of communication! We are learning new skills – not only in using technology, but in building rapport and deepening our relationships even at a distance.
And finally…on going learning. We have to keep up, you know! We are learning more about breastfeeding all the time. It’s an enormous subject! Don’t feel sorry for us though – we love it!
So to sum up: no, we’re not going to tell you off or tell you what to do. We’re very, very busy helping families who want to breastfeed. We haven’t got time to do any shaming or guilt tripping! So lift the phone or open your laptop. We’re here, waiting for you.
Support from a breastfeeding counsellor, breastfeeding supporter or la leche league leader is ALWAYS COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FREE OF CHARGE.
National Breastfeeding Helpline:
0300 100 0212
NCT Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 330 0771
La Leche League GB Helpline: 0345 120 2918
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers: 0300 330 5453