mom nursing baby

Breastfeeding Support for Japanese Moms

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. But breastfeeding is a learned skill—for moms and babies. Sometimes it doesn’t come as naturally as one might imagine.

La Leche League International (LLL) has been around since 1956 and was established to help breastfeeding mothers through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education.

Overlake hosts several monthly LLL groups, including one for Japanese speakers. For the past 10 years, the group’s leader, Izumi Mitsuoka, has helped an average of 80 mothers each year.

Yumiko Tachibana first joined La Leche League when she was pregnant with her daughter who is now 6 years old.

“I joined LLL because I was worried about giving birth and raising a baby in a foreign country,” Tachibana says.

Being in the group has allowed her to share her own experience with breastfeeding with other mothers and also ease the anxiety of parenting.

Tachibana is currently breastfeeding her second child. “As compared to my daughter, I don’t have to be too nervous about raising my son because I have the experience of LLL. The other mothers have similar troubles as me, so I’m not lonely.”

Similarly, Ikuko Tsuchiya is a member of the group with two children. She credits Mitsuoka with helping with breastfeeding and other parenting issues.  

“Izumi was instrumental in relieving my stress from various early stages of parenting struggles. She taught me how to relax and just take it easy. Her words of wisdom are unique and clever yet powerful,” Tsuchiya explains.

For both moms, the sense of community they found in the group has been invaluable—from making new friends to having the comfort of speaking the same language and sharing the same culture.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding can save money: Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year. Breastfed babies are also sick less often, which can lower healthcare costs.
  • Breastfeeding can feel great: Physical contact is important to newborns. It can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
  • Life can be easier when you breastfeed: Breastfeeding may take a little more effort than formula feeding at first. But it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. Plus, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! You can satisfy your baby’s hunger right away when breastfeeding.
  • Breast milk fights disease: The cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique; formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk.

Breastfeeding Resources at Overlake

Overlake offers support for moms who wish to breastfeed their babies through breastfeeding classes and lactation appointments. We also host three drop-in La Leche League groups for mothers and mothers-to-be interested in breastfeeding. Babies are always welcome. Location, dates, times and contacts are as follows:

  • Bellevue: Overlake PACCAR Education Center. Third Mon. of the month, 7–9 p.m. For more information, call Kay at 425.226.8117.
  • Issaquah: Highmark Medical Center, 1740 NW Maple St., Suite 201. First Mon. of the month, 10 a.m.–noon. For more information, call 425.312.3477 or email LLL.Issaquah@gmail.com.
  • Eastside Japanese: Ridgewood Corporate Center, 150 120th Ave. NE, Bldg. F, Room 16. Second Wed. of the month, 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. For more information, contact Izumi at 425.417.5419 or izumimitsuoka@hotmail.com.