Tips for how to support and help the nursing mother. Breastfeeding is a hard job and she is exhausted. Offer some help with these tips!
Let’s be honest, breastfeeding is hard work. Crazy hard work. So much, I totally understand if another mom doesn’t want to and think that’s totally okay. (you can read more about that here if you like) If you’ve never breastfed before, it’s hard to really imagine how much work it is to breastfeed. I can’t even stress that enough. Mothers need love and support during the first weeks and months to make it through it and truly see success.
I remember when both my babies were small, and the amount of support I had directly related to how successful I was with breastfeeding. With Mister K, I lasted all of a few weeks at most before I just let myself dry up and then he was switched to formula. At that time, I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t have the support to help me along.
With Miss M, it’s the complete opposite. In the first weeks, I was surrounded by lots of love and support. By my family, and also facebook groups of other nursing mamas. I truly believe that’s what got me to this point. 10 months later, we’re still going strong!
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1 | Make the nursing mother feel good
I remember having my daughter and feeling absolutely drained. Emotionally, I was all over the place and feel like I was about to burst any second. Physically, I felt like the most disgusting thing on the face of the planet despite the fact I had just pushed a human out of me less than 24 hours earlier. Let’s not even get started on my anxiety around my parenting skills.
Needless to say, I was not in a good place after having a baby. It takes a lot out of you!!
So what can you do to help mom feel better? Just make her feel good.
Compliment her appearance: I’ll be honest and say I’m probably THE WORST at receiving compliments. I roll my eyes in a very “yeah, right” manner, I giggle awkwardly, and I oftentimes don’t know if I should say thank you or not. But with that said, it’s still nice to hear. Tell mom she looks pretty, tell her she looks amazing after having a baby, tell her she looks hot. Moms come home feeling terrible about themselves after having a baby. Hearing from someone else that we actually look even semi-okay, can really help. And please dad, do it more than once. Do it so much, she actually starts to believe you.
Reassure her that she’s amazing at the mom thing: I personally, doubt myself almost constantly. I think I’m the worst mom for xyz reason no matter how big or small. It took me FIVE MONTHS to stop doubting my milk supply. I’m still doubting my parenting skills since I work from home and babe is left on the floor at my feet to play half the day. (I’ve since learned this is a good thing since she gets to watch me work my tail off for her!) A mom just wants to hear she’s doing okay at it. Tell her on the good days, tell her on the bad days, tell her on the semi-okay days too. Just tell her that she’s doing great. The more specific you can be about it, the better.
2 | Lend a helping hand to the nursing mother
Being a mom is hard work, seriously hard work. If you’re lucky enough to have help, I applaud you. It takes a village to raise a child, but not everyone has that. If you see mom looks exhausted, overwhelmed, at her breaking point, or all of the above… help her. For the love of her sanity, help her.
Give mom a break and comfort that baby: It’s not uncommon for the baby to immediately get handed to mom when they fuss, especially when they’re little. They’re so tiny you automatically expect them to be starving within the hour. But the thing is — you can’t automatically expect that to be the problem. If there are obvious signs like sucking on their hand, that’s understandable. Hand her over to mom. But if possible, try and comfort that baby and give mom a break for a few minutes. See if there’s another problem to be resolved first. When they’re hungry, nothing else will make it better but mom. So you will know. But try other options first before just handing her off to her nursing mother.
Make sure mom actually gets her break: If mom is taking a 20-minute break to shower, make sure she gets said shower. I personally love to bathe with my babies, so my baby girl got brought to me if she was too fussy. But even with that said, she was always comforted first to see if something else could make it better. Sometimes it could, sometimes she just needed mom! But try your hardest to give mom her full break.
Get up and help at night: Now, this may sound crazy when mom is responsible for all feedings. But she still gets up to change diapers, to burp her, and do other things to get her back to sleep. This is both exhausting and lonely. My honey would oftentimes take her so he could rock and sing to her. It was the sweetest thing he could have done and deeply appreciated. Getting up and helping can really help her as a nursing mother.
3 | Offer the nursing mother some support
Having a support system is the one thing that can make or break her breastfeeding relationship with her child. No matter if you’re the hubby, sister, friend, mother in law, try to be there for her. Do all you can to make her feel supported.
Back her up: Don’t make her EVER feel like that “crazy breastfeeding mom”. If she’s in a store and someone gets nasty with her, defend her. If a family member tries to give her a hard time for feeding in the living room in her own home, kindly ask them to leave. If someone asks about the length of time she’ll be breastfeeding, kindly remind them that’s between mom and baby. Make her feel safe and supported as a nursing mother.
Help her find a support system: Matter of the fact is, mom needs a support system. If you come across a facebook group you think would be valuable to her, send her the link. If you think she would benefit from seeing a lactation consultatnt, offer to make the phone call. If you have an aunt is who is the sweetest old lady and breastfed 4 children, connect them and see if she can answer mom’s questions. Do whatever it takes to make this experience great for her as a nursing mother.
Want more reading for dad? Check out these:
The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-BeA Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s PlaybookFirst Time Dad: The Stuff You Really Need to KnowDude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 MonthsThe New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year (New Father Series)The New Dad’s Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers
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