The group Breastfeeders In Australia is a mainstream breastfeeding group. It’s full of brand new mums who are hormonal, sleep deprived and often clueless about breastfeeding, normal infant behaviour and normal human biology. The brand new mum doesn’t join the group because she knows what she is doing, or because she is confident, she joins because she is having problems. Because she doesn’t know how it all works. She joins because she wants to breastfeed but it’s not quite going right, and she doesn’t know where to find help. Most women have never heard of an IBCLC, let alone know how to get any other help. She needs a cheer squad.
She needs to be treated gently. Otherwise she will get scared and upset, and listen to the nice GP who said it’s ok, just give formula. I’ve seen the Breastfeeders In Australia group evolve alot over the last few years, people often point out donor milk as an option, people are saying it’s ok to cuddle your baby, you don’t have to listen to them cry, it’s normal for baby to wake at night.
I know it can get frustrating for women who are further ahead at a different stage of their journey, seeing the same questions over and over, pulling their hair out at the current obsession with milo; but she is not just an annoying question or just text on a screen, she is a real mum who needs to be encouraged gently, just as you’d treat a real friend in real life. She needs a cheerleader.
As soon as the brand new mum comes past the fog of the first two months, she comes to a new point in her journey. She now desperately wants to help everyone, just like she was helped, she wants to give back. But she doesn’t always have the knowledge to do that. She needs a coach or a friendly advisor to point her towards correct information, without making her feel silly for not knowing. She needs a gentle teacher.
Once mum has gained a basic knowledge of how breastfeeding works, and she has been around the mainstream questions for a while, her patience starts to wear thin, she sees the same questions over and over, and she gets frustrated. She is angry at formula companies, uneducated health care professionals, societal pressures, and she wants to vent. She wants to surround herself with people who believe what she believes so that she can continue on her journey, have a safe place to relax in, and a virtual tribe to confer with. To have friends and confidantes who will be angry with her. She needs a sidekick.
After she has been in her safe environment for awhile, she realises she’s preaching to the choir. There is noone to help, noone to give advice or support to. She realises that sharing articles with people who believe the same that she believes isn’t helping new mums stick with breastfeeding, or helping mums increase their knowledge. She realises it’s time to step back into the mainstream group. Her perception of the mainstream group has changed. It’s no longer annoying, it’s full of questions that she knows the answers to.
She starts to recognise that the language she uses makes a big difference. She starts to notice the difference between those who need a cheerleader and those who want a gentle teacher.
She starts to see the big picture and how she can change the world one breastfeeding journey at a time. She just needs some direction. She needs a mentor.
Then once she in turn starts to mentor others, she starts to become a leader. She has a vision, a strategy, and a wealth of knowledge. She make connections with everyone she come across, and her online life is no longer separate from real life. She doesn’t need one person now. She needs an army.