The phrase “Breast is Best” is often heard, but did you know it isn’t the whole story? Breastfeeding is actually biologically normal; but just because it is normal doesn’t mean it is always easy or comes without bumps in the road- for many, it is a learned skill! Luckily, here in Indianapolis, we have many avenues to access help and support. Many of these services are free of charge, but if paid services are needed, the Affordable Care Act now covers lactation services, in addition to the much touted breastpump coverage.
Indianapolis is proud to have several active mother-to-mother breastfeeding support groups. Even if you don’t feel like you are struggling with breastfeeding, these groups are excellent places to meet other moms and babies, as well as become more comfortable with breastfeeding outside of your home, talk about strategies for going back to work, or how to juggle breastfeeding and caring for older siblings, in addition to any other obscure issue you can think of- if they don’t know, they’ll find an answer or refer you to someone who does. My favorite part is I never have to worry about being on time or looking my best- my fellow mamas GET IT! No one is judgmental about your parenting choices or stumbles, and they are supportive of the choices that are best for you, your child, and your family.
Indy Breastfeeding Moms is one of national parent organization Breastfeeding USA’s most active chapters. Highly trained volunteers lead this group with evidence-based information, and gathers at least weekly for open to the public meetings, including pregnant mamas, fathers, and other support persons- older siblings are welcome to attend too! They also offer one-on-one support via a Facebook chat group, as well as email, phone, or free in-home visits 24/7.
La Leche League is another popular mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group with an active Indianapolis presence. Various locations meet though out the month, led by trained LLL Leaders who follow the La Leche League ideals and principles of mothering, and are also available by phone. Pregnant mothers are encouraged to attend, and older children are also welcome to tag along.
If you are a recipient of WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) benefits, you are eligible to receive breastfeeding support services. WIC utilizes women who have breastfed their own children to promote breastfeeding and provides ongoing training for these breastfeeding peer counselors.
In addition to offer before birth breastfeeding classes, Indianapolis hospitals also offer support groups that are easily accessible, especially because they are open to any breastfeeding mother, whether you delivered there or not, and are usually supervised by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)- the gold standard in lactation support. Male partners are usually not welcome at these meetings, and while older siblings are, they need to be able to occupy themselves and are asked not to attend if they are ill. Most hospitals also have lactation lines you can call for assistance as well and set up an appointment to meet with a lactation consultant (LC) or IBCLC, usually at cost. Most also have closed Facebook groups with mother-to-mother support, supervised by staff LCs. Keep in mind that the groups are held “open-house” style, so no need to be on time and to take advantage of the free hospital valet service, if it is offered- they love helping moms and their babies!
Community North (317-621-5380) : Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Community Hospital South (317-887-7927): Mondays, 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to noon
Community East (317-355-2345): Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
IU North (317-688-2680): Mondays, 6 p.m. to 7:30 pm and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11:30 am.
IU Methodist (317-962-6906): By appointment
IU West (317-217-3639): Mondays
St.Vincent Carmel (317-582-8080): Mondays, 10:30 a.m.
St.Vincent Women’s Indianapolis (317-338-8866): Fridays, 10:30 a.m.
St.Vincent Fishers Hospital (317-415-9000): Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.
St. Francis Indianapolis (317-528-5620): Mondays, 5 to 7 p.m.
There are a few independent drop-in clinics worth checking out as well. One name is quite famous among breastfeeding mothers in Indianapolis- Kathy McCoy, RN, IBCLC, who was honored to receive the Indiana Perinatal Network’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. Kathy holds a free, open to all, weekly clinic every Wednesday from 4:30 pm – 8 pm at the Catholic Center at 14th & Meridian Street. She can be reached via phone at 317-902-9105. Lisa Lahey, RN, IBCLC, with Advanced Breastfeeding Care is also hosting some exciting workshops for moms, that include breastfeeding support and help, as well as weight checks, and is available for individual, in-home consultations.
Walgreens also sponsors two Well Babies at Walgreens clinics where they offer free baby weight checks and consultation with a lactation consultant and/or pharmacist. One is offered Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 10th St. and Post Road location (8905 E 10th St., 317-809-0986) and the other is Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Glendale location (6191 N Keystone Ave., 317-809-0986)
Indiana Perinatal Network (IPN), a partner of the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition, has a mission to lead Indiana to improve the health of all mothers and babies, specifically by providing resources for mothers and families on topics such as prenatal care and breastfeeding, as well as to offer the latest information and education to healthcare providers, and promote sound public policies. IPN offers a comprehensive listing of breastfeeding resources (lactation consultants and IBCLCs, support groups, drop-in clinics, donor milk depots) all over Indiana, where you can search by county. The Metro Indianapolis Lactation Coalition (MILC) is getting started and planning a kick-off event in August for mothers and professionals looking to become more involved in breastfeeding advocacy and normalization.
Curious about how the law covers your right to pump at work or breastfeed in public? Rest assured that you are entitled to both! IC 16-35-6-1- Right to breastfeed- Sec. 1. Notwithstanding any other law, a woman may breastfeed her child anywhere the woman has a right to be.
In addition to the mother-to-mother support groups’ (like Indy Breastfeeding Moms and La Leche League of Indiana) and various hospitals’ closed Facebook groups, there are also a few Facebook pages worth following for great advice and encouragement on your journey. Some of my favorites are Nurshable, Best for Babes, Breastfeeding USA, InfantRisk Center, and Kellymom. Kellymom.com is an amazing resource for evidence-based breastfeeding information, especially questions about proper milk handling and storage, troubleshooting, and medications. Another excellent resource for questions about medications is InfantRisk Center (where they are often looking for breastfeeding mothers to participate in important research studies regarding medications) and their forums– they also have an app, MommyMeds, and a free hotline (806-352-2519) you can call to discuss the most up-to-date information regarding medications, which unfortunately many health practitioners are not knowledgeable- always do your research if you are told to discontinue breastfeeding due to a procedure or medication.
If you are returning back to work, make sure to look around on WorkandPump.com– I think their information regarding freezer stashes should be required reading for every mama who is on their way back to work and breastfeeding (hint: you’re probably worrying WAY too much about it)! Nancy Mohrbacher’s book, Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple, is a great read for working mamas and I love her primer, Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, for all mamas planning to breastfeed. If you’re worried about being successful with breastfeeding after a previous experience, make sure to pick up Breastfeeding, Take Two, by Stephanie Casemore.
In need of a breastpump? Many moms have had trouble getting accurate information regarding ACA’s coverage through their insurance and everyone’s plan differs. I had an excellent (and easy!) experience finding out my coverage and ordering a pump through Aeroflow, and IU Health offers a similar program. If you are returning to work, look for a double electric pump from a trusted brand- Hygeia, Medela, Lansinoh, or Ameda– everyone responds to different pumps differently, so there isn’t necessarily a “best choice,” but these brands have proven effective. It isn’t recommended you buy a pump second-hand, especially open-system pumps, like the very popular Medela Pump in Style. If you aren’t returning to work (or pumping milk for donation), you very well may be fine with a single electric pump or a manual pump (I personally LOVE Ameda’s hand pump– so easy to use with one hand!). If you have a baby with health issues or a NICU stay, or you have supply issues, you may need to rent a hospital-grade pump, which are available through hospitals and often charged through insurance