How Can We Support Breastfeeding Mommas?
First, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, let's take an oxytocin hit and marvel at this GORGEOUS picture one of my clients sent me. This momma has been breastfeeding her precious baby boy for 11 months. *sigh*
What do mothers need to reach their breastfeeding goals?
There are many many things a breastfeeding mom is given before and after baby comes. Nursing pillows, fenugreek, nipple cream, breast pumps, lactation cookies. So many things to help them with breastfeeding, but often women are still unable to reach their breastfeeding goals. Which, as we know, can bring on so much mommy guilt and wreak havoc on a mother's self-esteem.
In order to avoid mommy guilt we sometimes swing the pendulum way too far in the other direction. "Don't be a hero," "you don't have to breastfeed if it hurts," "just give baby formula if you're having a hard time." Instead of encouraging mother's to reach out for help, we just walk away from them.
(Now, please don't hear what I am not saying. I absolutely know that for some women breastfeeding just doesn't happen. There might have been birth trauma, or maybe emotional things hindering it. Many women have to go back to work so soon after baby is born that they have to pump or give formula. While most breastfeeding issues can be resolved by a visit with a CLC or an pediatric dentist, I know that some cannot.)
So, how can we support Breastfeeding mothers?
That looks different for every mother, but for all mother's it starts far before their baby comes.
If we know a mother wants to nurse her baby, as her friend, coworker, sister, or doula, go with her to a breastfeeding group.
Once the baby comes encourage her to meet with other breastfeeding mothers. If she seems to be struggling, encourage her. Help her to know she is doing awesome, and then give her the name of a trusted CLC.
Feed her. For the love of all that is good, bring her food.
Also, if you are gonna go over to the home of a woman who just had a baby here are some tips:
- Be helpful. Don't make her entertain you. Do some dishes. Hold the baby while she showers or sleeps. Fold the massive amount of dirty clothes she undoubtably has. Feed her. That last one is important.
- Sometimes, when you come over just drop the food off. You don't need to go in to see the baby.
- And never, EVER go over uninvited. Unless you're bringing food. If so, refer to #2.
For those of you who are employers, provide real paid maternity leave. If a mother does have to go back to work, provide ample opportunity for her to pump. It may mean she's away from her desk a few times a day, but it will make her a happier employee, and it will allow her to nourish her baby.
Breastfeeding is a journey and it's not always an easy one. Nursing mother's all have very particular goals. Some want to make it six months, and others want to make it two years; we should all do our part to make sure she has the opportunity to reach that goal.
Do you have any suggestions on the best ways to support a breastfeeding mother?