It’s World Breastfeeding Week
so I thought I would highlight some helpful ways we can ALL help support breastfeeding!
This year the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is focusing on four Thematic Areas that relate to each other and to breastfeeding.
- Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction
- Survival, Health and Wellbeing
- Environment and Climate Change
- Women’s Productivity and Employment
Check out their website when you have a chance! http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/
To shine light on “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” here are 5 ways we can ALL support breastfeeding.
#1 – Community: You can support all mothers by praising them when they breastfeed in public! Encourage mom to keep up the amazing work providing the very best nutrition to her baby. Educate yourself on the benefits of breastfeeding. Accept that mothers need to breastfeed their baby whenever her baby is hungry. That does not mean she has to go find a bathroom to do it! Would you like to eat your dinner in a bathroom? It’s OK if she doesn’t cover up! Many babies hate to be covered up or maybe it’s just too dang hot outside to cover up. Be compassionate toward a breastfeeding mother and know that she is doing her best to meet ALL of her baby’s needs.
Breastfeeding families know your rights:
#2 – Family Members/Friends: You can help breastfeeding by:
- Bringing the new family meals
- Bringing mom a snack and water while she nurses. Maybe she needs an extra pillow to support her back, so she’s more comfortable
- Doing the laundry, dishes, picking up around the house
- Holding baby while mom takes a shower or a nap
- Giving baby right back when mom says “oh, it looks like she’s getting hungry”
- Saying things like “You two look so happy and content breastfeeding” or “That is so awesome you decided to breastfeed! What a healthy, happy baby!” Or “What can I do to help?”
#3 – Work/Schools: Supporting moms with breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace actually saves time and money and creates more productive employees! Get familiar with and implement strategies from:
#4 – Hospitals: You can help support mothers with breastfeeding by going through the 10 Steps to becoming a Baby Friendly Hospital. Change your policies and procedures to evidence based practices that help breastfeeding including practices around labor and delivery.
#5 – Partner: You are an essential key in this picture! The type of support you give to your partner can make or break breastfeeding. I know I sound dramatic, but it’s TRUE! You are the one that is present during the most hormonal, scary, exciting, unsure time in a mother’s life. Your opinion on breastfeeding matters. Your support and encouragement for breastfeeding is HUGE.
The early weeks of breastfeeding are all about mom and baby learning to breastfeed together. Yes, breastfeeding is a natural process, but there is a learning curve. If your mind-set is just whatever about her breastfeeding or not, those few days and nights her nipples are so super sore, the baby won’t latch, and/or is crying non-stop, may cause some wavering in how you support her.
You may offer to make just one bottle of formula from that free can you received in the mail. You may say something like “maybe your just not making enough milk”, or “obviously she’s hungry, let’s just give her a bottle”. You may not realize, thinking you’re being helpful, but may actually be undermining moms effort to feed the baby.
How to really support your partner with breastfeeding: Think of that same scenario above mom with the sore nipples, baby not wanting to latch, and crying non-stop… Here’s how to help this stressed out mama:
- Call or give your partner the number of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (What is an IBCLC) for help and take the baby for a few minutes, so she can get some questions answered!
- Make sure mom is comfortable with all she needs (water, food, pillows, comfortable place to breastfeed)
- Undress baby to just a diaper. Remind and encourage mom to get skin to skin with your baby. Cover them both with a blanket. Encourage as much skin-to-skin as possible! By the way, you can do skin-to-skin with your baby too!!
- Trust mom and baby’s body and the biological process of breastfeeding and tell mom that you know she can do it! Do not rush to those free cans of artificial baby milk (formula).
- Remember that breastfeeding class? Remember how they showed you what a good latch looks like? How to get a good latch video. Watch how your baby is latching and help mom make adjustments that she may not be seeing on her own.
- Help mom keep baby with her all the time. Visitors want to hold the baby, pass the baby around, and maybe even feed the baby, this does not help breastfeeding. Let visitors hold the baby, but keep a close watch for those early hunger cues and bring baby to mom as soon as you see them. Visitors want to help you both out, but may not know what to do. Keep a list of things that need to get done (grocery shopping, dishes, laundry etc…) on the fridge and if a visitor asks how can they can help, direct them to the list! Ask visitors to make a meal!
- Commit to learning as much as you can about breastfeeding. Commit to being a breastfeeding advocate for your partner and baby! Your support and encouragement makes all the difference and will bring you and your new family even closer together.
THANK YOU to all the breastfeeding supporters out there!
If you are having breastfeeding problems and need help,
I’m just a phone call or text away! Melissa Preitauer, IBCLC, RLC
I became a La Leche League Leader in 2006 and have been helping mothers and babies breastfeed ever since. I’ve been in private practice since 2013 as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), supporting families with breastfeeding all over Chicago suburbs.