OCEANSIDE — Every Wednesday fingerplay songs, laughs and conversation can be heard as a dozen moms and babies meet up at Tri-City Medical Center with certified lactation consultant Veronica Tingzon for a breastfeeding support group.
The free support group for North County women provides medical recommendations and social support for moms.
“It started out as a community for moms to get help breastfeeding,” Tingzon said. “It turned into a sisterhood with the older moms helping newer moms.”
The women sit in an informal horseshoe arc of chairs with space for the babies to play in the middle. The discussion starts with moms sharing what is new this week, which prompts Tingzon to advise, dispel myths and correct any misunderstandings.
“There’s no judgment,” Tingzon said.
An open dialogue allows fellow moms to share their experiences and advise. The group provides a close-knit support system for the women.
After group discussion, Tingzon checks in with each mom for an individual consultation. Babies are weighed in to check their growth and additional questions are answered.
In the circle, moms breastfeed their babies, introduce them to the other moms and babies, and play and sing with them.
Lacey Linek of Oceanside, is a first-time mom who has attended the support group since she took home her 11-month-old son Liam, who was born six weeks early.
In the hospital she received one-on-one coaching from a lactation consultant.
“He didn’t latch on for at least a week,” Linek said. “It was scary not knowing what to do with a 4-pound baby with tubes and monitors.”
Linek said initially she pumped her breast milk and bottle-fed her son, and then one day in the hospital she was holding Liam with tubes and monitors attached to him and he just started breastfeeding.
Linek said since she returned home with her son she has counted on the support group to ensure she is providing him with enough nutrition.
“I need that reassurance that I’m giving him the amount he needs,” she said.
She added that she’s become close to the other moms and looks forward to the weekly meet-ups.
Linek said she has introduced her son to foods and continues to breastfeed him.
“I adore breastfeeding,” she said. “The first six weeks are hard, but if you can make it past six weeks you’ll be a champion.”
Moms join the support group for a variety of reasons.
“The most common reason is they’re worried the baby is not gaining enough weight,” Tingzon said.
Other common concerns are of insufficient milk supply and sore nipples.
Tingzon describes breastfeeding as a “learned art.”
“How to hold the baby and bring it to the breast to latch on, which direction the baby likes to turn, it’s the small details and knowing,” Tingzon said.
Tingzon said most moms are comfortable with breastfeeding, but there are cultural pockets of moms who have reservations.
“In the Hispanic culture they want really chunky babies,” Tingzon said. “They think babies do not get enough with their own milk. It’s incorrect.”
Another group that have concerns are young moms.
“Younger moms in their 20s don’t want their breasts to sag,” Tingzon said.
She added that it is inevitable that a woman’s breasts will lose their perkiness as she ages whether she breastfeeds or not.
Tingzon said the health benefits a child gains from being breastfed are significant.
“They gain immunities via mom’s white blood cells.”
Other benefits for baby include developing the ability to self-regulate his or her eating habits and therefore lowering the likelihood of future obesity, having fewer problems with heart disease, and receiving optimal nutrition.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms solely breastfeed for six months,” Tingzon said.
Tingzon added that she recommends moms continue to breastfeed their babies as they introduce them to foods at age 6 months to a year, and that it’s beneficial to continue breastfeeding past a year.
The time to stop breastfeeding is very individual.
“People put on social limits, but it’s up to the mom and child to find a time to their own taste and liking,” Tingzon said.
The breastfeeding support group meets Wednesdays from 9:15 to 11 a.m. at Tri-City Medical Center, 4002 Vista Way.
Registration is not required.