Finding a Real Live Helper


Being Updated


If you haven’t had your baby yet, now is the time to find someone tohelp you with the birth.  If you’re birthing at home – the safest,easiest, happiest, and normal approach for most women – you may already have lined up your local midwife.  Birthing at home, you may not need or want anyone else.  

If you can’t have a home birth
,you increase your risks substantially if you don’t have a doula to help out. Your labor will probably be longer and harder.  You’re less likely to look back with pleasure on the birth, and your risk of needing a host of interventions, from pain medications to vacuum extraction to cesarean, increases. Even your partner will find it easier to help you with an experienced woman on hand for support.DONA International and ALACE are two places to find doulas who have been through formal training programs.  Your midwife or area La Leche League can help you find good doulas with informal training.  (If hospital birth without a doula is so much more hazardous, why don’t hospitals automatically provide you with one if you need to go there? Good question!)

Childbirth classes make a huge difference if you need to give birth in a hospital, and can be extremely helpful even if you’re birthing happily at home.  Some wonderful options are hypnobirthing (an unfortunate name for an excellent course; instructors who are also lactation consultants find that the women who take their birth course are not the women who need to come to them for breastfeeding help later on), Lamaze International (which has undergone a marvelous evolution in the past generation), and the Bradley Method.  Even if you take a course offered by your local hospital or obstetrician, be sure to take an independent course as well.  Otherwise, you’ll learn only what your local medical community wants you to learn.  With intervention rates and risks rising annually, you need to know more.


La Leche League
is all about mothers helping mothers.Formed in 1956 bya small group of women who realized that breastfeeding was easier when they shared experiences with other mothers, it now has groups around the world.  Leaders have some training in special breastfeeding situations, but their main expertise comes from having lived the breastfeeding life.
 All LLL Leaders have nursed at least one baby for at least a year or so. LLL groups are as varied as all other groups of women, and no two meetings within a group are the same.If your first meeting makes you uncomfortable, try it the next month or find another nearby group.  There aren’t many resources that LLL groups can’t help you find, their help is always free, and Leaders are available by phone 24hours a day.  La Leche League is a reliable starting thread, no matter what your birth, breastfeeding, or early mothering thread is. Try to go to at least one meeting while you’re still pregnant, to put names with faces and to watch the variety of ways in which women mother and breastfeed their babies.  Really, where else is it okay to stare?

There are other groups similar to La Leche League.The Australian Breastfeeding Association (formerly the Nursing Mothers’ Association of Australia) has lots of good materials and information at its website, even if you don’t live in Australia.The Nursing Mothers Counsel is active in certain parts of the United States.

IBCLCs, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, have considerable training in special breastfeeding situations.They charge for their services,but they give you face-to-face help that can go well beyond what volunteer groups can offer.  One of the best ways to find a good IBCLC is to check with your area’s La Leche League! You can also check with ILCA (the International Lactation Consultant Association) or, or click “breastfeeding help” in the menu bar at

All these links are intended to help you find real, live people, not just a longer list of bookmarked sites.You would never learn to swim or ride a bicycle by going to the internet.You’ll love what you find in the real world!


©2010 DianeWiessinger, MS, IBCLC

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