By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer
Good news for moms of all ages — “There is no right way to be a mother.”
This sage advice was not uttered by an old-world guru. Nor was it passed along by a new-world medicine woman.
It was shared by Kimberly Wood, mother of one with another on the way and accredited leader of La Leche League of Clovis, a group that meets once a month to discuss what’s on their minds — namely, breast feeding.
“Some people get ‘boob-a-phobia’ when they hear about our group,” laughed Heidi Zimora, who attended the April meeting with three youngsters, two of her own and one she was baby-sitting. “But we are about much more than that.”
True, the philosophy of La Leche League, an international group in existence 50 years, is based on the importance and benefits of breast feeding, but the new moms are there for more than simple discussion.
“I come here to meet other new mothers and develop new friendships,” said Carly Cromer, mother of an 8-month-old Caleb.
Her husband was recently deployed to Kirut in norther Iraq with the air force. “I need to socialize my son more, and this is an ideal place.”
As a handful of children crawled, jumped or ran about the room, Wood added that “the most important thing is to fill the needs of our kids.”
With orange slices, banana, and home-baked zucchini bread in a kitchen area, a child-proof gate securing the exit, and plenty of room for the children to romp, the meeting itself did just that.
It also served the needs of the mothers.
“It’s a great place to meet other breast-feeding mothers who share a similar childbearing outlook,” Alicia Payne said.
Payne attended with her 2-year-old daughter and took time to browse through issues of “New Beginnings” magazine being passed around the casual circle.
Following a brief introduction, the moms gave each other tips on some of the best — or worst — childbearing tips they ever heard.
“All a new mother needs is a breast, a sling, and a clean diaper,” said Wood, passing along the best advice she had ever heard. They moved along to hospital versus home.
“The hospital is very stressful,” said Tonya Massey, pregnant with her second child with her first near her lap. “They put fear into you instead of encouragement.”
The women nodded, noting how they felt they were not mothering properly unless they wrote down every single time and how much their child ate on a highly detailed chart.
Although standard hospital procedure, they said it made them overwhelmed.
“It was very stiff and regimented,” Zimora added. “Instead of just instinctually feeling when your baby is hungry and what your baby needs.”
The group of seven women concurred. “One of the most vital things before you even give birth,” Wood said, “is to find a support group.”
Payne instantly agreed. “I was so happy when I found one,” she said.
“People don’t walk around with ‘I breast feed’ on their forehead. How do you find them?”
La Leche League of Clovis meets at 10:30 a.m. the last Tuesday of every month in the Ingram Room of the Clovis-Carver Public Library. Wood can be reached at 742-3307 for more information. April marked their second meeting since the group restarted following a three-year hiatus under a different leader.
Its format is flexible and its doors are open to anyone — even men.
Payne recalled a farmer who attended a past meeting. She said he came with his pregnant wife and equated the breast feeding concept to a cow.
“The analogy worked for him,” Wood said. “The important thing is that he understood.”