COLES COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) - Figuring out motherhood is no easy feat, especially for moms who choose to breastfeed.
Mother Jessica Hutchens had trouble while breastfeeding her first child, feeling like she had nowhere to turn.
"I was a young mom and there weren't a lot of resources I was willing to reach out to, I guess. I didn't want to call the lactation consultant at the hospital, and I tried to do it all on my own and it was rough, and I quit shortly after the month and switched to formula," she shared.
But before she had more kids, she found Coles County Breastfeeding Support on Facebook. The group was started in 2011 by Sarah Alva.
"They can go on the group, and they can at any time in the middle of the night, get assistance, get help, they can whine, they can vent, they can whatever, and it's kind of more of a private group, it's not completely public, but there's a couple hundred moms in it," Alva explained.
Fast forward now to 2019, Hutchens is a Certified Lactation Specialist, and the new leader of the Coles County Breastfeeding Support group.
She's armed with the knowledge to help other moms. As we continue through this holiday season, she's highlighting some challenges breastfeeding moms face.
"You can't breastfeed a baby when they're in a car seat," Hutchens said. "A lot of moms have tried to huddle over a car seat so you don't have to pull over or if you're going long distance, pulling over a lot, quite a bit. Or using a pump to bottle feed in the car and things like that. When you get to family get-togethers, everybody wants to hold the baby and kind of disrupts the natural feeding and sleeping of the infant."
Hutchens says the best thing a family can do is support whatever the mom does or does not want to do, and, when in doubt: send in the spouse.
"Sometimes it's hard for mom to stand up for herself, especially around family members. It's always good for the partner to kind of chime in when the mom is feeling awkward. Maybe you should have a safe word during the holidays to tell the spouse, especially if it's their side of the family, when mom feels a little uncomfortable," Hutchens explained. "So that really helps."
Alva has stepped back a bit from Coles County Breastfeeding Support, to pursue a business offering Breastfeeding Help and Postpartum Care. She is now a Certified Lactation Counselor. Alva encourages new breastfeeding moms to not give up. She says it takes just as much practice for a mom to learn to breastfeed as it does for a baby.
"To stay relaxed, and calm, and to trust her baby. To know what's most comfortable, how to hold her baby the best way that's most comfortable for her. And, just to kind of figure all of that out and learn how to listen to the baby's cues and to feed on demand. There's just a big learning curve," Alva said.
This weekend Coles County Breastfeeding Support is holding a free, informational class at the Charleston Public Library from 10:30 to 12:30.
All new moms, partners, and family members are welcome!