by Amber (Schatz) Danks | Submitted Photos
New moms can question absolutely everything they’re doing. Why is the baby crying? Is the baby sick? Is the baby developing properly? Is the baby getting enough to eat? How can so much come out of someone so little?
The barrage of questions and uncertainty can strike at all hours of the night and there’s not always an expert around to help. Instead of texting your mother at 3 a.m. or checking WebMD for the fiftieth time that day, there’s an option that moms have found incredibly helpful: the Professional Lactation Support of Bismarck. The closed group is one of several Facebook support groups for moms. The idea is to give moms a safe place to post questions and get advice, answers, and support from trained lactation professionals.
“The experts on the page range from an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Counselor (IBCLC-the Gold standard in lactation support), Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC’s), Registered nurses, and doulas,” explains Becky. “Through our passion for breastfeeding we have all come to know each other over the years.”
Becky started the group in the summer of 2014.
“It really came about because people were tagging Cindy (Berglind) and me on other local mom Facebook groups to answer breastfeeding questions,” she says. ”Many times, we noticed those questions were not correctly answered by other members, or false information was being given. Sometimes there was shaming of a breastfeeding or supplementing mom. There was a huge need for professional, evidence-based support in our community, but in a safe, non-biased, or threatening atmosphere.”
The Facebook group has more than 1,300 members now, and Becky says that number continues to grow.
“More and more women are turning to social media for support and encouragement when it comes to many aspects of child rearing. As a new mother 23 years ago, if I wouldn’t have had the support of my mom, sisters, and friends, I would not have continued to breastfeed,” explains Becky. “With the trend of fewer live support groups and more social media groups geared toward support, it seemed only fitting to start a group on Facebook. It is my way of giving back to the community and using a gift God has given me.”
Questions on the page run the gamut: everything from pumping and storing breastmilk, diagnosing and dealing with acid reflux in babies, and getting a baby to latch to a bottle. While new mothers can research and prepare for baby feedings, Becky admits it’s much different going through it when it’s your first time.
“I am a mom of four—my kids range in age from 23 to 14. Even though I was a nurse and had helped countless women breastfeed before I had my first child, I still had no clue what I was doing! My son’s birth was difficult, and he and I were separated for at least the first two hours,” recalls Becky. ”In those days we didn’t do skin to skin; we gave sugar water until mom could ‘try’ and nurse or if mom wanted to sleep. But something inside of me said, ‘Keep him with you all the time, don’t let him be away from you,’ so I roomed in with him. He was only away from me initially. Those first few days I spent a lot of hours crying, not sure why he wouldn’t latch or asking, ‘Why does he want to eat again?’ Thankfully, my mom was there to guide me and assure me that I could feed him; she helped me to relax enough to get him to latch and nurse well. Without her help those first weeks, I would not have nursed him as long as I did. In addition to my mom and my sisters who had also breastfed their children, I was blessed to work with another new mom who was breastfeeding, so we really supported each other. Plus, our other co-workers at the hospital were very supportive. We didn’t have the internet; we only had each other.”
Becky says her one major piece of advice to new moms is to relax and be patient. She and the other administrators offer professional lactation support in their free time and get paid in thank yous.
“What do I get out of it? The satisfaction of knowing that I am doing all I can to support moms on their breastfeeding journeys, no matter how long it lasts. I’m here to help in any way I can.”
The Professional Lactation Support of Bismarck is a closed Facebook group. You must be approved before you can join. Part of the approval process involves answering a few questions. Search “Professional Lactation Support of Bismarck” on Facebook to learn more.
Amber (Schatz) Danks spent nearly 12 years as a news reporter, producer, and anchor. She is currently tackling her toughest and most rewarding assignment yet: being a stay-home mom to her baby girl.