Thoughtful Parenting: New parent-to-parent breastfeeding support group for Routt County families
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
A new group, La Leche League of Steamboat Springs, has formed in Routt County to help parents reach their breastfeeding goals.
What: Morning meeting
When: 10 to 11:30 a.m. third Tuesday of the month (starting March 19)
Where: Thrival Mode Chiropractic, 1815 Central Park Plaza
What: Evening meeting
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. first Tuesday of the month (starting April 2)
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Room SB210 in the Academic Center, 1275 Crawford Ave.
More info: llli.org and lllsteamboatsprings.com. Parents or providers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 970-717-0871 for questions and one-on-one support. Memberships to support the local group are available but never required, and there is no need to RSVP.
So much has changed since the days when all human babies thrived on breastmilk. In the U.S., breastfeeding rates hit an all-time low around the 1950s and ’60s. Today, there is much more public health advocacy for breastfeeding, as well as enhanced lactation support and resources for families.
This support has made it possible for many more mothers to breastfeed successfully, but many still struggle with continuing for as long as they would like.
In Colorado, for instance, 91 percent of mothers begin breastfeeding at birth, but only 23 percent are exclusively breastfeeding to 6 months as is recommended by major health organizations. Though breastfeeding for at least a year is a common personal goal, only 40 percent of Colorado mothers reach that goal.
The benefits of breastfeeding include reduced risk of allergies, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome for babies and reduced cancer risk, postpartum depression and improved sleep for mothers. Breastmilk contains sugars that feed a baby’s healthy gut bacteria, fats that contribute to brain development and chemicals that promote sleep. Breastmilk changes with a baby’s age and time of day and even contains antibodies specific to the viruses and bacteria a baby is exposed to.
La Leche League was formed in 1956 by seven women who found that there was almost no support for breastfeeding mothers. The organization soon grew into what it is today, an international nonprofit with groups in more than 70 countries and more than 7,000 accredited leaders.
All services are free for families, and La Leche League offers both in-person meetings and one-on-one support. Meetings are informal gatherings where families help each other reach their breastfeeding goals, whether measured in days, weeks, months or years.
The league welcomes anyone feeding human milk in any form: those who are struggling or experienced, want to help other parents or build community, are pregnant, pumping, mixed feeding with formula, weaning, nursing toddlers, feeding donor milk or any other variation. Most meetings consist of mothers and babies/children, but partners and caregivers are welcome anytime.
Leaders are volunteers who have breastfed and completed training in group facilitation, communication and breastfeeding science. They serve as a resource for the community and strive to create relationships with providers like doctors, lactation consultants/nurses, physical therapists and WIC, so they can refer families to professional support when needed.
This article contains data from the CDC National Immunization Survey (NIS) 2018, 2015 births.
Jessica De Feyter is a local parent, developmental psychologist and accredited La Leche League Leader.
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