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Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, there are so many questions to answer and one of the tops on the list is whether to breast or bottle feed. Cierra Nielsen, a La Leche League leader in Greenville, said that as a bottle-feeding society, many grandmothers and new mothers do not have the same experience feeding their children. While one is not better or worse, many mothers are returning to breastfeeding. New parents often come to her seeking support and gathering information on how to introduce their newborns to breastfeeding.

La Leche League (LLL) leaders do not give medical advice, but they are there as a support system for parents who discover that the first 90 days is a marathon of survival. In the Upstate, there are leaders and groups that offer support in person as well as via Facebook. I faced a difficult time while breastfeeding, and I often got a call from leaders asking me if I needed assistance and walking me through the process.

“Those first few days can feel lonely,” Nielsen said.

That is where having a community to ask questions about each child can be the difference between a successful experience or a painful latch and a hungry baby. My own husband calls this the weeping mother and the desperate husband phase of newborns. In fact, it was he who placed the desperate call to LLL for help.

“The first 40 days can set a mother up for success when it comes to breastfeeding,” Nielsen said.

By getting the support and information needed regarding how often babies feed to identifying cluster feeding, it gives the nursing mother a sense of ownership and awe over her own body.

Nielsen is also quick to point out that chest feeding using donated milk is a wonderful way for mothers to meet those nutritional needs of their newborns while still having the bonding experience with them. Not being able to breastfeed or produce enough supply does not mean you are automatically eliminated from breastfeeding. There are alternate options.

Experts recommend breastfeeding as it gives babies all of the nutrition needed for the first few months, creates a bonding time, provides powerful antibodies and can be a tool for soothing fussy babies and toddlers. If nothing else, the time you spend on the couch is a great time to binge watch all of the episodes you have been missing. 

“Your skin is their environment, and the more skin-to-skin contact you have, the better,” Nielsen said. “This includes dads.” 

Just make sure not to get on Amazon at 3 a.m.

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