The group meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at Mountain View Public Library’s Meeting Room 101 at 3320 Sandy Plains Road. Although similar support groups exist in areas such as Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, Garcia-Salas said there was a need in Cobb County. She earned her certification in December 2011, and the group began meeting in June. It is open to all women — new moms, moms-to-be and even grandmothers.
Breast-feeding offers health advantages for mom and baby. Citing information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Garcia-Salas said the mother’s benefits include reduced hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, fewer instances of uterine, ovarian and premenopausal breast cancers, a decreased risk of Type II Diabetes and postpartum depression, and greater bone density. For the baby, breast milk can decrease the risk of SIDs, asthma, ear infections and diabetes.
Garcia-Salas is the mother of Sebastian, 3, and Simon, 16 months, who is still nursing. The AAP advises mothers to breast-feed exclusively for six months and then start to introduce solid foods. According to the its website, www.aap.org, breast-feeding should continue for one year and for as long as it is mutually desired by mother and baby.
While the benefits of breast-feeding are plenty, some women still encounter difficulties with it. Garcia-Salas said women are “hard-wired” to breast-feed, but it is still a learned skill. Feeding difficulties can stem from a variety of factors. She said women sometimes receive inaccurate information on how to feed. Other times, women are fearful they are not producing enough milk.
“There are very few instances that a mother cannot produce enough milk,” Garcia-Salas said. “(Women) are designed by nature to feed twins. I see actually oversupply of milk is more of an issue than undersupply.”
She said cancer treatment or radiation for thyroid treatments are some factors as to why a woman would be unable to breast-feed. According to the AAP, there are few reasons not to do so. Tattoos, piercings and breast surgery often do not interfere with breast surgery, but the organization advises women to seek professional medical advice in the matter.
Perception of inability to feed can also cause a woman not to produce milk, Garcia-Salas said. At the Bosom Babies meetings, a scale is available for mothers to weigh their child before and after feedings so they can accurately tell how many ounces of milk the baby is receiving. She said it also helps women to feel more confident about their bodies and their ability to feed.
When it comes to storing milk, the AAP encourages mothers to freeze 2 to 4 ounces of milk at a time, depending on the average amount of a single feeding. Garcia-Salas also said there isn’t a set amount of milk a baby is supposed to receive. She said the baby’s age, weight and time of day for feedings all affect the amount of milk the baby receives.
“There is no exact, correct amount,” she said. “That is one thing that is very hard for women in our culture because we are very numbers-driven. We need exact correct numbers for every little thing.”
In addition to helping mothers feed their children naturally, the Bosom Babies group also provides an environment for women to ask questions and bond with other mothers. Debbie Granovsky Shapira said attending support groups have been beneficial for her and her son, Alex, 1. She had been told breast-feeding was hard. Some of her friends tried but turned to formula instead.
“My girlfriends knew the benefits of breast-feeding. They had difficulty and didn’t get sufficient help,” she said. “Almost all women can breast-feed if they get the right help.”
Before attending the local support group meetings, Shapira said she surrounded herself with women who had successfully breast-fed.
“Encouragement for a new mom is huge,” she said. “If it’s your first time being a mom, you are scared to death that your child isn’t getting enough milk. So if you’re surrounded by people like support groups that give you encouragement, it’s a lifesaver. It makes all the difference.”
Shapira recalls going to her first support group meeting and feeling better by its end. She also continues to breast-feed her son.
“He’s healthy and happy, and I’ve got to believe that part of that is due to breast-feeding,” she said.
“That’s why we need to come together as a village of moms,” Garcia-Salas said. “The whole goal is for women to trust in their ability to nourish their child.”
For more information on breast-feeding and the support group, contact her at email@example.com or (404) 457-3924 or visit www.villagelactationservices.com.