If you were pregnant on WIC and a breastfeeding peer counselor called you

Merry - posted on 09/16/2011 ( 25 moms have responded )

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What would you like her to say, or ask?
What would turn you off?
What would be helpful ways to encourage you to breastfeed?
What would make you shut down and not listen to her?

I just got hired as a breastfeeding peer counselor at my local WIC and I'm wanting to be as effective as possible in HELPING moms breastfeed but. Do NOT want to end up pissing women off!

Everyone is very different so what would YOU personally like to hear from someone on e phone as a pregnant lady.

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Kate CP - posted on 09/16/2011

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I don't want to hear anything. I want them to listen. If it were me, I would introduce myself and say "Tell me about how YOU want to feed your baby" and go from there.

Sara - posted on 09/16/2011

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I just had a baby and while I want to breastfeed, I had very bad experiences in BFing with my first. With this one, I wanted to both FF and BF, so that I could take some of the pressure off of myself to EBF. The first LC in the hospital was far too pushy. She didn't seem to respect my choice to bottle feed as well as attempt to BF. The second LC was wonderful. We talked about my prior experience and supply problems, she suggested things I could do to booster my supply and was just really supportive of my decision to do both FF and BF. I think what you need to do is listen to women and what they want. Don't be too pushy with the info, because that will turn people off right away, IMO.

Carolee - posted on 09/16/2011

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Ask whether I am planning on breastfeeding or formula feeding. Specifically mentioning both options would help me know that you're not going to judge me for my choice. If I say "bf", then say "good", but don't go on and on about it. It doesn't always work out the way you want it to. If I say "ff", say, "May I ask why?", then just accept my answer, whatever it may be.

My WIC counselor was like this, and she was very nice about everythinng. Very supportive. And she told me "good job" for even trying to bf, even though I was only able to do it for 3 months. She made sure to tell me not to feel bad, because some women just can't bf either at all or as long as they wish. She made sure to tell me that I was a good mom. She saw that I did what I could, and NEVER made me feel like I "fell short" of anybody's expectations.

Lady Heather - posted on 09/16/2011

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Well I've heard of the benefits to mum and let me tell you - for me the benefits were not enough to outweigh the challenges I faced. We're not all ignorant. And no, mothers who are facing trouble with breastfeeding do not need to be reminded that they will be fat asses if they don't feed (which isn't necessarily true anyways).

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Melissa - posted on 09/18/2011

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I think it may help close to the time the baby is born, this is what we have to offer if you need and choose to use it. However, I remember being on WIC there was a lot of information about Breastfeeding and pretty much being the only thing. I struggled with it, and WIC slams you with the information and with my son i think I was overwhelemed with breast being the ONLY thing needed. My doctor provided better support with breast vs. formula and he was the one that said, try to make it to this point, if you can't don't worry thats why they made formula and aid for people in my financial situation. The Lactation consultant through wic figured out my main problem with breastfeeding was stress and depression- stress of managing how to breastfeed didn't help either.

Minnie - posted on 09/16/2011

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Laura, if you're interested, LLLI offers excellent communication skills training courses. You can contact your local group and have one set up for you to attend. They're pretty intense, about nine hours long, but sometimes they can be broken into sessions. I found them absolutely invaluable.

Caitlin - posted on 09/16/2011

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Laura - the problems I had with dairy weren't the type of problems like you see with colicky babies. My daughter is allergic to casein and whey (present in cows milk like I was drinking) but she is also allergic to the lactose as well. This is allergic, not intolerant, so no, there's not really much I could do. Cutting out dairy in my diet may have helped a bit, but not enough to make breastfeeding worth it. All I know is when I got pregnant and she started refusing my milk and all her problems suddenly dissapeared, I felt like crap knowing that MY breastmilk was causing them all. (for the reconrd it's incredibly rare apparently to have a baby react that way to breastmilk even if they have a dairy allergy.. it's either that it works from the get go or it doesn't, but my daughter LOVES to baffle the allergists.. Her allergist is STILL baffled by her beef allergy, cause that's NOT common at all.. and when I mean allergy, I mean like epi-pen +hospital allergy, not "oo, i'm itchy")

Merry - posted on 09/16/2011

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Yeah irl I'm completely un pushy. Very passive and cautious. Online i sometimes get pushy but that's something I'm working on too :)

Merry - posted on 09/16/2011

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I will mostly just be on the phone but if any mom wants it I can come to 'help' but I'm darn sure not going to be grabbing anyones boobies! I'll have Fierna with me as my demo baby if they want to watch.
I'd love to be able to come across as their friend, after all my job requirement includes being on WIC myself so there isn't some superiority complex.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/16/2011

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I'm wondering that myself. I know hospital lactation consultants (at least the ones I knew) came in and told you different positions to try holding the baby.

The lactation consultant I had for WIC back in Rochester showed me how to use my manual pump. But I know they do phone consultations as well. I wish I knew if Canada had WIC because I go through about 32 litres of milk a week!

Rosie - posted on 09/16/2011

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make it normal. don't make it seem superior, and don't make formula seem evil.
as soon as breastfeeding is put up on a pedestal is makes it seem unattainable to some people. also when formula is degraded and breastfeeding seems unattainable you feel completely helpless, and horrible.
would you be meeting these women face to face? or just over the phone? if you are face to face, don't man handle their boobs. don't tell them how to do it, offer suggestions ....but don't say this is how you do it etc.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/16/2011

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Well humans are mammals after all. Okay now I have to go lactate for my young :)

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/16/2011

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My mom never managed to lactate so my brother and I were bottle fed . I have heard of animals lactating to feed other young.

Merry - posted on 09/16/2011

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Or you could have just not eaten dairy products!
I know many moms who can't eat dairy while nursing.

And not to say every woman can, but some adoptive moms can and do lactate and breastfeed their adoptive babies! I know a woman who did this with her adoptive son. It's hard work and some womens bodies take to it better then others but really any woman or man for that matter can lactate!

Caitlin - posted on 09/16/2011

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Ya, a lto fo those health benefits of breastfeeding never really showed up and it dissapointed me! I would have moved someone to listen to the problems I was having and offer suggestions, since both times I breastfed, I had different problems (the first was a VERY hard delivery and my milk took 5 days to come in, the second wasn't a great latcher, she had a very small mouth and I have very large breasts and finding a good position for her was HELL). I'm surprised I breastfed as long as I did (7 months for #1 - due to medical reasons (her milk allergy) and the fact I got pregnant, she refused my milk; 11.5 months for #2, because yet again when I got pregnant with #3, my milk dried up or tasted different or whatever and she refused it).

With my first I was offered horrible support by the nurses in the area, whos idea of "helping" me learn was to grab my boob and shove it in the baby's mouth, saying I was doing it all wrong and making it a horrible experience, the second time I was told I was going to wake up with a dead baby because at the begining the only position I was comfy was on the lazy boy with her sleeping in my arms, where I would nurse her (which isn't safe apparently because I could doze off and I should leave her in her crib - not my theory in the first few weeks, I like to be in contact as much as possible, because they find it comforting!).

Unless something they are doing is incredibly unsafe, don't harp on about it, offer constructive suggestions (ex: NOT:"Oh, that's the wrong way to do it." more like "I heard of a woman who had that same issue and she tried this and it really helped.." and formula isn't the devil. In fact I shoudl have had #1 on the formula a lot earlier, because it turned out the reason she was so miserable was because she was allergic to my milk (because I was drinking milk and passing ont he proteins) and if she had been put on a milk free soy based formula earlier, she would have avoided the horrible congestion, upset tummies and eczema that she had all the time. Sometimes it's just better for the baby that way, also because if a mother is stressed out about breastfeeding, it's not going to work.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/16/2011

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Heather tell me about it. I was never breast fed as a baby because adoptive moms don't lactate. I kinda laugh about how people say breast fed babies are smarter, healthier ect ect ect. My brother and I only had chicken pox. When I defended formula in the Breast feeding moms forum you'd think I'd advocated feeding my child arsnic. When I say well I wasn't sick as a baby (my older daughter got sick quite a few times) Women always say: well reguardless of your childhood or 'If you feel that way, why are you breast feeding in the first place'. WTF ladies.



I'm breast feeding but my SIL isn't. I'm not going to give her crap about it (not just because she'll beat me up) because some women actually aren't comfortable with breast feeding.



BTW I've been breast feeding my 6 month old since she was born. I'm only down to 205 now (I'm 5'5 too so this is why we don't see pictures of me) and that's because I walk about 5km a week.



Just be understanding if a woman explains she doesn't feel comfortable breast feeding.

JuLeah - posted on 09/16/2011

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Ask them what they want and need.

Many think it will be like in the movies, all sweet and amazing. So, they are baffled and thinking they are doing something wrong when really, it is just a learning process and it gets better

Assure them most women need help, all have questions, your not a 'bad mother' if this doesn't come naturally to you .... make it safe for them to ask question

Good on ya for the job!

Jay - posted on 09/16/2011

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aw that is not nice either! But I am sure you are a great mum! It is a messed up world. but I am pretty much a go-with-the-flow and to each their own. I mean there are mums out there doing the baby-can-read thing! Stuff like that makes me feel guilty, hearing I am not using his full potential, mainly because I am too tired and I wonder how them super mums do it! :P xx

Lady Heather - posted on 09/16/2011

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Sorry, I am a little touchy being the one who actually had major problems. My experience was that any talk of benefit was pretty darn depressing. I was brought to tears by a poster at my vaccination clinic that talked about all the wonders of breast milk because to me it was like sign to tell people like me that we are going to make our kids dumb and sick oh and by the way - you'll totally get breast cancer one day too! Yeah. Some mums I'm sure get a big boost out of that sign as they sit there and feed their kid.



I think it's just as wrong that you would feel made that you have to feed your kid in a bathroom. The world is a fucked up place.

Jay - posted on 09/16/2011

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And as for the weight thing, I was joking because i am heavy and still breastfeeding! :D

Jay - posted on 09/16/2011

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:O Heather!!
I am pro-choice!!! I was just ans the question to help.
I actually understand the challenges, my nephew is 7 weeks younger than my bub and his mum was dead set on BFing but a difficult birth threw her, and I am a twin and out of 6 babies my mum just couldn't go longer than 3/4 weeks with us even though she did 6 months with the others!
I wasn't trying to be mean in any way, I understand that mums cant always establish breast feeding and I feel lucky that I could.
Although every time I feed my baby in public I get a tut, or a look like I should be shamed, and that is every time I feed in public here, in ireland only 2 % of mums BF to 6 months and less after so we are a minority. I love hearing about the benefits because it helps me get through the negative attitudes I face on a daily bases. I fed my baby in a public toilet for 5 weeks because I was ashamed, until I came across a toilet that was just too dirty and smelly and decided that I should not be ashamed...
I am not the enemy heather, I think that being a good mum is more than where the milk is from!!
Sorry for the long off the subject post! x

Jay - posted on 09/16/2011

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I would want you to ask what I was thinking about feeding my baby. And not to seem like you were judging my decision,
You could just try to tell mums who want to bottle feed about the benefits of breastfeeding during their hospital stay and talk about how much cheaper it is, better for the environment, and how much time it will save, (do you really want to be washing bottles when you will already have all the other baby stuff to do?)
But follow my cues and run from there.. Like if she seems interested in the environment, then look up the fact, how much more friendly is it really?
I love hearing about the benefits of breastfeeding to my babies health, so for mums like that go on about how good those first few weeks are (because they are the hardest and if they stick it out a few weeks then the months might roll by, that's what happened to me, a few weeks is 7 months and counting)
And alot of what bottle feeding mothers I talk to don't know is the benefits to MUM. All about how it will help mum heal will ring back when they are feeling sore after birth, I loved actually feeling my womb moving while I was feeding those first few days, and bottle feeding mum's I talk to had never heard of that, or even knew that BF helps you to heal.
Also the weight thing! I could only imagine what my weight would be if I had not breastfed!! :P xx
Good luck with the new job!!

Lady Heather - posted on 09/16/2011

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I'd like her to tell me where I can find real help and support if I need and want it.
I would be turned off by any sort of judgment of my situation. For me personally, I have health issues that will always have the potential to get in the way of my feeding, whether or not my kid is a good latcher. I imagine many single mothers are involved with WIC and I imagine their need to work would be a pretty big issue. While some of these problems can be solved, the fact is that realistically they can't all be. Sometimes no amount of wanting to breastfeed makes it possible.
I would probably hang up the phone if she started preaching to me about all the medical benefits that I probably already heard about from my doctor. Frankly all that does is make people who can't breastfeed feel like crap. It is not encouraging in the slightest.

In my mind the only way to encourage breastfeeding is to offer support to those who want it and be understanding of the fact that we aren't all living in the same shoes. For instance, where I live the breastfeeding "support" for those who don't have an awesome midwife like me is a weekly clinic during working hours at a place that is difficult to get to on transit. How on earth that would help the average single working mum is beyond me.

Of course I also think that a great way to encourage breast milk feeding would be the establishment of widespread and accessible public milk banks, but that's rather beyond the scope of a breastfeeding counselor. Ha.

Minnie - posted on 09/16/2011

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You could let mothers know that LLLI offers mother-to-mother breastfeeding meetings monthly and help her get in touch with her local Leaders. We all really need a support network of mothers who have been there/done that because our culture doesn't really offer that.



In direct support situations I would expect empathy- actively listen to a mother's concerns and then reflect her feelings. Support her talking through her concern and help HER to work out her problem- then she'll feel empowered because SHE made the decision/came to a solution that worked for her and she won't feel dependent upon a breastfeeding support person and she won't feel like a failure. And it doesn't matter if she comes to a solution that we wouldn't do ourselves, because it's her decision, and she's made it fully informed.



It's not up to us to solve a mother's problems but to support the mother in her decisions and help her to come up with a solution herself.



I would love to work as a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor. But I can't because we make $900 a year too much to qualify for WIC. So despite the fact that I know what it's like to struggle month to month I can't help mothers who are in similar situations.

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