For those who know nothing about it or who have not had the opportunity to experience it firsthand, you should know that breastfeeding is hard work. Breastfeeding has the power to drastically change a mother’s life. As they establish a nursing relationship and bond with their babies, breastfeeding moms need to be reminded how awesome they are for nursing their newborns.
Showing support to lactating mothers by creating an environment that is conducive to breastfeeding is, therefore, important, especially during the holidays since many people are traveling for get-togethers. Below are some tips on how family and friends can accommodate, show support and encourage new moms.
Learn More About Breastfeeding
For starters, you should try to gain a better understanding of what to expect and how breastfeeding works by reading articles from respected, evidence-based resources. Talking to other moms about their breastfeeding experiences might be a valuable way to learn. Improving your knowledge about breastfeeding helps a lot when it comes to giving lactating mothers support.
Support Her Choice To Breastfeed
Most importantly, you should always support moms whether they choose to breastfeed or if they are opting not to breastfeed, whether or not it’s a personal preference or for other reasons. Letting breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding moms know that you will do whatever you can to help them with their child is of significant importance and shows that you actually support her and her choices. As such, you should not try to persuade breastfeeding mothers to start offering bottles of breastmilk or formula unless it is medically indicated.
Tell Her She is Great
You need to remind moms that they are doing a great job. Apart from making them feel vulnerable, breastfeeding can often rattle moms both emotionally and physically. On top of hormonal regulation and sleep deprivation, mothers also worry if their milk is in, if their newborn babies are getting enough to eat and if they are even doing it right. As such, a few words of support and encouragement can make a huge difference. You might also have to reel breastfeeding moms in if they start freaking out too much.
Give Her a Break
With confident declarations that the child is obviously hungry, most people automatically hand babies to their mothers as soon as they start fussing or crying. It is a trying experience for moms when they are consistently handed fussy newborns and are expected to fix the situation. In truth, babies aren’t always hungry, and it can become frustrating when everyone thinks they are constantly hungry. Support breastfeeding mothers by trying to comfort the infants before you automatically pass them back into their nursing mother’s arms.
Respect Her Break
Some babies will nurse for up to three hours straight, which is can be exhausting for breastfeeding moms. All they need sometimes is a long shower without interruption. You should be supportive enough not to knock on the door ten minutes after she goes in for a bath just because the baby is crying. Make sure breastfeeding mothers get enough time to themselves regardless of the challenges, especially since the guilt of a mother is bound to pull them out of their break if you show up with a fussy baby in hand.
Take the Graveyard Shift
Although it is mostly ignored, breastfeeding moms need support and help during the night. While it is important that mothers nurse on demand to keep their supply going, you can also be a part of the night shift. You can help by changing the diapers before you pass the baby onto the mother for nursing. Even though breastfeeding moms may still be up for much longer, it will make them feel like you are part of their team.
Quench Her Thirst and Ease the Hunger
You probably know that breastfeeding makes moms thirsty and hungry. While this may be true, new mothers tend to care for their newborn children before they think of themselves. As a result, their own needs can go temporarily unmet, especially if they do not get a little help. You should, therefore, bring her a snack and some water or her favorite beverage. A refreshing drink in the middle of a marathon breastfeeding session is sure to make a new mother’s day.
Do Not Criticize Breastfeeding
You probably know that it is the thoughts of those closest to us that matter the most. As such, it can impact lactating mothers in a negative manner when family members and close friends criticize breastfeeding. Instead, you should help them deal with any breastfeeding criticism. Apart from reminding breastfeeding moms of everything they are doing right, you should also provide them with unbiased, evidence-based information aimed at helping them overcome criticism.
For instance, if a nursing mom has been criticized for not supplementing, you can support and remind her that she’s doing a great job and you can also step in and speak for her in a good way, if necessary.
Help With the Chores
Apart from offering to change the diapers, you should also find out what else you can do to help the new mom. Asking her to leave a to-do list on the refrigerator is a good start. Doing the dishes, vacuuming, laundry, sweeping, grocery shopping and cooking are chores that usually top the to-do list. Also, if there are older children, you can play with them, read to them or even take them out for the afternoon. Entertaining house guests helps to ensure breastfeeding mothers have some peace, quiet and space with their newborn.
Find Her Additional Support
You can achieve this by reading up on breastfeeding and knowing where and how to find support for lactating moms. Apart from encouraging breastfeeding mothers to get help if they need it, you can also encourage her to ask her pediatrician whether a lactation consultant is available. Consultations with lactation consultants are usually free at hospitals.
Additionally, there are numerous online support groups, which you can encourage breastfeeding mothers check out. You can also find out whether there are local breastfeeding support groups who host meetings in your area. While breastfeeding moms may struggle, especially in those first few weeks, they may not want to ask for help. You should, therefore, be on the lookout to offer help and support where and when you can.
Although you might not know it, your support and encouragement could be the difference between lactating mothers continuing to breastfeed and stopping before they are truly ready. As they saying goes, it takes a village—and breastfeeding is no different, making your support a significantly important part of a successful breastfeeding journey.