Mothers, in general, are biologically made to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many health and emotional benefits for mom and baby. It can also be challenging. Mom just birthed a baby, is recovering, and is now providing 24/7 care and nutrition for this totally dependent little human. Encouragement and support from her partner, family, and friends can go a long way as she navigates this new experience. Here are some ways that you can support mom:
DO SOME READING
Read/watch breastfeeding information with mom before the baby arrives. It’s hard to help her when you don’t have the same info. You may have a better memory, you know, pregnancy-brain turned mommy/sleep-deprived-brain and all. There are many great books about breastfeeding. I loved the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. If you take a Birth Boot Camp Childbirth class, there is also a great 3.5 hour Breastfeeding DVD featuring an IBCLC.
Whenever the baby eats, make sure mom also has food and a drink. I was ravenous while breastfeeding for the first few months! And so thirsty! As the baby drank, my mouth would get drier, and drier. Some mothers have breastfeeding baskets at their favorite breastfeeding locations; stock them with snacks!
Change the baby’s diaper before/during/after nursing; whatever the baby needs. Any extra second of sleep is a win for a mother with a newborn!
ENCOURAGE ONLY MOM TO FEED BABY
Don’t offer to FEED the baby. Mom is biologically made to nurse her baby, not family and friends. Though it may be exhausting the first 4-6 weeks, the frequent feeding is SO IMPORTANT in establishing a good milk supply for the rest of the breastfeeding relationship. Whenever someone else feeds baby, mom needs to pump for that feeding. Otherwise, mom’s body will not know that the baby ate, and she will eventually produce less milk. Most breastfeeding mothers would prefer to nurse than pump. Pumping requires a lot more work – Ain’t nobody got time for that 😉 For more information on what to expect in the early weeks click here.
Keep nay-sayers away from mom. In fact, limit visitors. Having a fresh baby is such an exciting time! Nothing draws a crowd faster than a cute baby! However, it’s often awkward trying to learn how to breastfeed with people around all the time, especially if there are issues at first. If visitors must come, encourage brief visits and give them a task! When I had my son, church members brought food and my mom and sister helped with cleaning. This was a huge help, and allowed me to relax more!
SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE-BASED INFO
If you need to look up a question online, please search on reputable sites. Kellymom articles are by an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and evidence-based. La Leche League International (LLLI) also has great information. First-time mothers and first-time breastfeeding mothers often have many questions. Just make sure answers are correct!
HELP HER FIND A SUPPORT GROUP
La Leche League (LLL) is an international breastfeeding support group. They offer online support as well as local meetings. To find the meeting nearest you click here. The LLL Leaders are, also, often available for phone-phone support for issues. If you are in the Lafayette area, you can also join the La Leche League of Lafayette Facebook group. There is also a newly formed Community Breastfeeding Club in the Opelousas, LA area. Encourage mom to attend with, or without, breastfeeding issues. There is no replacement for woman-to-woman support!
FIND AN IBCLC
The early days after birth may be intense with the frequency of nursing, while mom is also trying to recover. So, if she is having issues with breastfeeding (latch, pain, baby losing weight . . .),help her out! An IBCLC specializes in breastfeeding, is up-to-date on evidence-based research, and went through many hours of supporting breastfeeding women to become certified. Don’t wait! The sooner mom can get help the better!
Last, but not least, tell her how awesome she is doing! She just grew a baby, birthed a baby, and is now nurturing/nourishing him/her – this is not for the weak at heart! This is very important and exhausting work! Let her know you appreciate it and that she is AMAZING!
What was the most helpful thing you did for a breastfeeding mother? Or if you are a breastfeeding mother, what was the most helpful thing someone did for you and your breastfeeding relationship?
I am a breastfeeding, cloth diapering mother of a very active son. I teach childbirth and parenting classes in Lafayette, LA. I am also a doula and a registered nurse. To learn more information about me and my services please visit http://www.MYBirthAndBaby.com.