Mom2Mom Global started very humbly in 1999, when four people at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center--a neonatologist, a breastfeeding mother, a pediatrician, and a postpartum nurse--identified a glaring gap in breastfeeding support for military families stationed overseas. While most babies left the hospital breastfeeding, by their first well-baby appointment (in 1999 that was at 2 weeks), over half were either supplementing with formula, or had been switched to exclusive formula-feeding. New parents, an ocean away from their families in the days before Facebook, WhatsApp, and VOIP phones, were simply unable to find the support they needed to meet their breastfeeding goals. Mom2Mom was founded on the principle that peer support is vital to new parents.
We've gone through lots of changes and updates and Mom2Mom Global looks very different today than those first Peer Mentors in 1999, but our mission is the same: to provide accurate, up-to-date information and support to breastfeeding military families and to help each parent meet their individual breastfeeding goals. Our chapters and Facebook groups are welcoming, supportive, nonjudgmental places for breastfeeding military families to share their own wisdom and experience, and to get the help they need, no matter what their circumstances.
Recently, I received this beautiful message from Ashley, a member of Mom2Mom KMC, one of our overseas chapters, and we were so moved by her words, and so grateful that she allowed us to share them with you. Disclaimer--you might need a tissue.
"My three month old has always been what I call "down to business" nurser. He comes, eats, and leaves, doesn't waste any time. He has more exciting baby stuff to do. We're right in the middle of leap four, and for the last thirty minutes he's been using me as his human pacifier. But he's also been looking at me, smiling, touching my face and my chest, snuggling up against me, grabbing my shirt, etc. At one point he just laid his head down on my boob and was watching me. Now he's asleep and still latched. I was sitting here with tears in my eyes because it was such a beautiful bonding moment for us that I haven't really experienced until now.
So from the bottom of my heart, I just want to say thank you for the support. We all know how difficult having babies away from family is. And breastfeeding is a journey in itself. But I have been surrounded by amazing women who support and uplift each other, without questions or judgement. Everyone I've encountered, from nurses to lactation professionals to other moms, offer words of encouragement and have helped me get through really difficult times.
I am thankful every day I am able to continue my breastfeeding journey and equally thankful to be part of a such an amazing community.
I hesitated to post it because I know they are women that struggle with BF and may never have experienced such a special moment, and I didn't want to seem like I was "bragging" or anything. But I want you to know what a great job you and the other lactation professionals do, not just for myself, but for everyone. I was so scared to have my first baby in another country all alone, but it turns out I wasn't alone at all.
I've encountered so many helpful people since giving birth and each one had such an impact on my journey, from pregnancy to birth up to today. You have helped me several times in the Facebook group, that's why I reached out to you. I hope you don't mind that I messaged you, I was in my emotions and wanted to shout it from rooftops haha. There were several times that I wanted to give up, but the knowledge and encouragement I received made me feel empowered and pushed me to keep going.
I never realized what a huge organization M2M is, the work and dedication you put forth really shows. We are in the middle of moving back to states and I plan on connecting with the local network of another amazing M2M group. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!"
photo of Ashley's breastfed baby, courtesy of M2M KMC member
No, thank you, Ashley. Thank you for affirming that, thanks to the tireless efforts of dozens of unpaid volunteers--military servicemembers and spouses around the world coming together to support each other--we are accomplishing the mission that has driven Mom2Mom for nearly 20 years.
And thank you to each of our volunteers, from our Board and Staff, to our Chapter leaders and Peer Mentors, to each and every parent who's ever reached out and offered a kind word of encouragement to another. Your work matters. You make a difference. And together, we are going to make sure that every military family has all the support they need to meet their breastfeeding goals.
Do you want to join us and be a part of Mom2Mom Global? Find out more about starting a chapter in your military community or volunteering with us!
Amy Barron Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC is the Executive Director of Mom2Mom Global, an international breastfeeding peer support organization that seeks to address the unique needs of breastfeeding families in the U.S. military. She is the wife of an Army Reservist, and the mother of four breastfed children.