Attending Meetings with a New Baby

Attending Meetings with a New Baby

Categories: Leader Today, Uncategorized

Rachel Brown Kirkland, Dalton, Georgia, USA

Streams of daylight peek quietly through the edges of our room-darkening curtains. I wake up to a quiet house, a welcome atmosphere compared to the three hours I had spent before tending to a fussy baby. I’m excited because this is Thursday, the day I had scheduled a photographer to come for a newborn photo session that would also include pictures of myself, my husband and our five-year-old son.

I check my phone. It’s 11:32 a.m., about three hours later than I normally sleep! The photographer was supposed to arrive shortly after noon. Oh no! I have several unread messages. One of them is from the photographer, saying she has some extra time and could arrive at 11:30 if we like.

“I am so sorry …” I text her back and explain the situation.

Fortunately, it was not a problem to reschedule. However, my photography mishap illustrates just how unpredictable life as a mother of a newborn can be.

Mothers often seek out La Leche League meetings while they are on maternity leave. In the United States this is typically a six-week period, sometimes even shorter. That means many of the mothers trying to make it to La Leche League meetings for information, support or camaraderie are dealing with the challenges of the early postpartum period. This makes it difficult to leave the house, let alone get anywhere on time! How can we help make meetings more accessible?

Flexible meetings

Paying special attention to the needs of mothers during this period is one way to welcome new participants and potentially grow your Group. It can help to accept the difficulty many mothers have with time and make it known that mothers are welcome to drop in and out of meetings. Attendees can be reassured that it’s not a problem to come late, leave early, or do whatever else is needed to be able to connect with the Group.

Aine OSullivan, a Leader in Lough Derg, Ireland, said she’s noticed some parents do not want to intrude by coming late and don’t want to appear that they are not on top of things as a new parent. To address this, she advertises meetings as happening “between” certain times to encourage attendees to drop in at times that are best for them.

She says, “I mention what happens at meetings and generally stress breastfeeding information and support but always state that mothers are welcome to just come along for a chat. I note that if you can’t make a meeting, parents are free to call. After meetings, I sometimes run through some topics that came up on social media too, in a very general and non-specific way, sometimes linking an article. I’ve noticed that many more parents of newborns are coming along since making these changes, so hopefully it’s done some good!”

Housekeeping information

All new attendees need to know “housekeeping” information, such as where toilets are located and where diapers (nappies) may be changed. These announcements are even more important to mothers with new babies. Some Groups find it helpful to have a designated volunteer quietly pass these details to mothers who might join the meeting after this information has been shared.

Breastfeeding options

Sometimes, despite a general announcement that everyone is welcome to nurse their babies in the meeting room, a mother may be uncomfortable feeding in the Group. This can be for a number of different reasons, many of which are more common during the early postpartum period. Some mothers may feel self-conscious about their own bodies. Others may be struggling to get a good latch, dealing with oversupply that causes spraying, navigating the challenges of learning to use a nipple shield, or other issues. In addition to offering verbal encouragement, some Leaders find that attendees appreciate the option to retreat to a private area for feeding.

Meeting options

If attending a meeting during the early postpartum period proves to be too difficult, it may help for would-be attendees to know there are other ways to connect with the Group at a more convenient time. Many Groups reach these individuals by advertising evening meetings, online meetings and informal meet-ups at times that differ from the regular meetings.

Antenatal meetings

One way to reach potential attendees is to connect before their babies are born. Some Groups offer antenatal breastfeeding classes.

Leading a meeting with a new baby

Leaders planning to lead Group meetings with a new baby in tow have an opportunity to demonstrate different positions for feeding a newborn, discuss the challenges of the early postpartum period, show how to babywear in various carriers, or talk about the benefits of accepting help from family and friends.

Supporting mothers

Thriving Groups find ways to appeal to both first-time and experienced mothers by offering a warm welcome, a flexible atmosphere and options for those who need them. Only by caring for the needs of mothers can Groups find success in sharing the love and wisdom found in the breastfeeding relationship.

Rachel Brown Kirkland is a La Leche League Leader in Dalton, Georgia, USA, where she lives with her husband and their two sons, ages five years and two months.