The waiting is over, the baby is here, and now begin the adventures of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding-friendly support from partners, family and friends is one of the most important factors in helping mums to get breastfeeding going well, to stick with it, to develop confidence in herself and enjoy feeding her baby.
1. Let her know you support her decision to breastfeed
Even before the baby is born, let her know you think her decision to breastfeed is great. Take a bit of time to look into the benefits of breastfeeding for yourself if you are not aware of the many short term and life-long benefits that each and every feed gives to mum and baby. Remind her she is doing the most important job in the world, and the benefits of each and every feed will be with her baby for life.
2. Help her to be able to spend time with her baby
Young babies like to feed a lot, and to feed often, day and night. Having the time to be with her baby and feed him as he needs can be challenging, especially if a mum has other demands on her time. Instead of offering to take her baby for a while – which is not really supportive of breastfeeding, offer to help her with the other things that she needs to do. Playing with her toddler or older kids, bringing around some dinners for her freezer, picking up some shopping, helping out with washing or cleaning will take the pressure off her and help her to relax and concentrate of feeding her nursling.
3. Learn how breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis
Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. When the baby feeds, this stimulates the breasts to produce milk. In the early days babies feed often to build up a plentiful milk supply. So when a baby feeds often, this does not mean the mum does not have enough milk, but just the opposite, that the baby is programming the breasts to make the perfect amount of milk to meet her growing needs. If a mum is tired and feels her baby is feeding all the time remind her of supply and demand, help her out with practical stuff and let her know she is doing just great making perfect milk for her little one.
4. Give breastfeeding friendly support
Often the things people say to a newly breastfeeding mum are said with the kindest and most loving intentions, but may undermine successful breastfeeding for her.Any suggestions to give the baby a bottle or a dummy to give her a break, or to let her milk fill up really work against breastfeeding. As you now know, # 3. supply & Demand – the baby needs to be at the breast to produce milk, anything which gets in the way of this, or separates mum and baby can disrupt breastfeeding. Learn how to listen and support her and give breastfeeding friendly suggestions.
If she is tells you she is having a hard day, or has been feeding all night, instead of suggesting she gives the baby a bottle, remind her of the benefits, and tell her what a great job she is doing. Remind her that babies build up their milk supply by feeding more. Your friendly support and understanding is so valuable. You could offer to cook tea for her family or collect her kids from school whilst she goes to bed with the baby.
5. Give her some TLC
Any mum of a new baby, whether she is breastfeeding or not, is giving 1000% to her baby. Babies are totally dependent, relying on their mums and dads to meet all of their needs, but this also means figuring out what their needs actually are, day and night, no matter how tired you are. Show her you recognise how much she is giving to her baby, and take some time to nurture her. This doesn’t need to be big, complicated or expensive, just let her know you recognise what a great job she is doing, and put a little thought into looking after her. Bring her food and her fave flowers, healthy and tasty snacks and drinks to enjoy as she feeds her little one, treat her to a home massage, or buy her a book or film you know she’ll enjoy when snuggled down with her baby.
6. Help her find breastfeeding networks
Knowing you are not going it alone is really comforting at every stage of a woman’s breastfeeding journey. Encourage her to check out her local breastfeeding group or cafe, offer to go along with her is you know this would make her feel more comfortable. Meeting other breastfeeding mums can provide a great source of support, encouragement and friendship, so encourage her to join local or online groups and create new networks.
At Beautiful Beginnings Play Group, we welcome any parents who would like to come and have a chat about breastfeeding and meet some local breastfeeding mums during pregnancy, and any stage of their breastfeeding and parenting journey. *
Local breastfeeding groups throughout North and West Cumbria can be found at:
You may or may not have been a breastfeeding mother yourself, but never underestimate the difference you can make with your kindness, understanding and support to a newly breastfeeding mum you know.
* The Beautiful Beginnings Playgroup welcomes ALL parents, no matter how they choose to feed their baby.