As we near the end of World Breastfeeding Week, we offer up this post to all the partners, spouses, friends, and family of breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it ain't always easy my friends. And without support from those closest to her, a new mom has a much more difficult time in the first few days, weeks, and months of motherhood, including her breastfeeding relationship. The following five tips can help you provide the most helpful support to new moms during their breastfeeding journey.
1. Be there. For times of joy and success, for tears, and especially for laughs. Just being available to her -- by phone or in person -- can go a long way in helping a new mom feel supported.
2. Offer help. Help can come in so many ways -- light house cleaning, watching the baby so mama can catch a few more zzzs, cooking dinner, or even offering to help mom find a local lactation consultant if breastfeeding issues arise. Moms are sometimes reluctant to accept help, so be persistent and specific: Instead of "can I help?" say, "What can I do to help?"
3. Bring food! This is a huge hit for new moms. Breastfeeding moms are often surprised at how hungry they are once their body is actively making milk, so bring easy-to-eat, nourishing, fulfilling food.
4. Think twice about advice. It's human nature to want to help others, but sometimes our "helpful" advice is less than. Before offering advice, consider asking questions. Instead of "Never wake a sleeping baby!" try, "It looks like you know what you're doing! Does he seem to have found a rhythm with his sleep and feeding cycles?" Comments and questions like this will instill more confidence in mom and demonstrate your support without being received as judgemental.
5. Tell her she's doing a great job. New moms often second guess their ability to parent the "right" way. Let he know often that she's a good mama, and that she is enough. If you sense that mom may be experiencing more than the typical new mom fatigue and worry, it's possible she may be experiencing a postpartum mood disorder like depression or anxiety. In this case, tell her it's ok -- and encouraged -- to seek professional help. Offer to help find someone or go with her to an appointment.
What would you add to our list?