“Unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t really know what it’s like,” Patrice Broquadio-Pons says about breastfeeding. She’s now nursing her second child, Lorelei. “When I first had my son, Logan, I didn’t know what I was doing. Was he getting enough milk? Why am I in pain? It was not a smooth start and that was a surprise because I thought it would be so natural and easy,” says the Yonkers resident.
Broquadio-Pons is not alone. There are a few dozen new moms who meet regularly at Lawrence Hospital Center to get firsthand advice and encouragement from our Breastfeeding Support Group. Led by Judy McArdle, RN, a certified Lactation Consultant, the group is a safe and nurturing outlet where new moms can nurse their babies and ask parenting questions. “I’ve been leading the group for six years,” McArdle says. “These are wonderful women who want to give their babies the best start possible and breastfeeding does that.”
Like Broquadio-Pons, some of the mothers are here with their second and third children. Aaryn Rubin, a speech and language pathologist, has brought her third child, Hannah, to the support group. “It’s nice to connect with other moms,” Rubin says. “By now, I’ve figured [breastfeeding] out, but there’s a camaraderie here that I just don’t want to give up.”
The group has also spawned new friendships. Marisa Reda, of Fleetwood, worked in New York City before motherhood. After having her twins, she felt isolated with no girlfriends nearby with whom she could discuss the ups and downs of breastfeeding. “I was having trouble trying to breastfeed my twins. I delivered them at another hospital, but it didn’t have this kind of follow-up support that Lawrence offers,” Reda says. “When I spoke to my pediatrician about getting help fast, he referred me to Judy. If it weren’t for her, I would not have been able to breastfeed my twins.”
Reda eventually started a Facebook page exclusively for the Breastfeeding Support Group, called “Judy’s Mamas.” There, the mothers post photos of their children, share relevant articles and offer words of encouragement to one another. “This has been an amazing experience. We are grateful to the support group and Lawrence Hospital Center for providing a place where we can get the support we need,” adds Reda.