When you first start breastfeeding it can seem overwhelming, especially in the early weeks and months, and doubly so if there are additional complications such as health issue or personal problems happening at the same time. It is helpful to remember that every stage passes (though the days seem long, the years are short!), and breastfeeding does usually become easier by 3 months and second nature by 6 months.
Sometimes the difference between an easy breastfeeding journey and a hard one comes down to the amount of support surrounding the breastfeeding mum. If she is surrounded by people who are encouraging her and helping to create time and space for her to focus only on her baby she is much more likely to be able to persist through any breastfeeding issues.
So, if supporting a new mum through these harder stages is crucial, how can you support a breastfeeding mum when she is the one with the boobs? Never fear! We have LOADS of suggestions for you!
10 Easy Ways to Help Support a Breastfeeding Mum:
- ASK! The best thing to do is ask how you can help her, would she like a drink of water? Can you get her something to read? The number of times I've been stuck somewhere breastfeeding my baby with a glass of water frustratingly out of reach is way too high!
- Mum is likely to be sleep deprived, so offer to take baby for a walk so Mum can get an extra hour of sleep (it can make all the difference!)
- Organise food and household chores. It is incredibly difficult to get anything done when you have a new baby in the house.
- Manage her visitors - it's lovely to have people to visit when you have a new baby, but check in with Mum to make sure she's not overwhelmed. Limiting the numbers, or having days 'off' from visitors can help reduce stress levels while Mum and baby are getting to know each other.
- Offer to contact support for her if she's having trouble, or needs more info on something. There are a number of services to help breastfeeding mums. You can call the 24 hour breastfeeding helpline (1800 626 268), or organise a Lactation Consultant for a one-on-one visit to get to the root of the problem (you may also have access to free services through the hospital or your local chemist).
- Tell her she's doing a fabulous job, and that you are so amazed at everything she is doing (she created and is sustaining a new human being!!).
- Look after older children. Take them to the park, play with them, read to them etc. It's hard to look after older kids with a baby at the same time!
- Offer to hold baby so Mum can have a shower, a peaceful cup of tea, or anything else she hasn't had a chance to do.
- Ask if she needs you to get anything from the shops.
- Be interested in what she's going through. This means listening without judgement, and provide empathy. If you're not physically there, you can call regularly so she doesn't feel isolated.
Do you have more suggestions? Let us know in the comments below