Support a Breastfeeding Mom for World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Many materials are written for new moms on how to breastfeed. Often the rest of the family feels left out or does not know how to help a breastfeeding mom. Families and spouses have a significant impact on a mother's success with breastfeeding. Here are some tips from breastfeeding veterans on how to support a breastfeeding mom:

• Tell her how beautiful she is and that she is doing a great job. Even if the baby is crying and mom is frustrated, show your support. Everything will fall into sync soon enough and your support will help quicken that process.
• Offer reassurance that breastfeeding can be difficult in the beginning, but it is no reason to stop. Seek a lactation specialist right away if problems such as soreness, cracked nipples or engorgement occur.
• If the baby wants to nurse frequently, tell her that baby loves her milk and that she is doing a great job. Don't suggest that she try a bottle to get a break. Frequent nursing is very normal at the beginning and is nature's way of increasing the milk supply.
• Offer to do household chores so mom can focus on taking care of the baby and getting enough rest, food and water for herself. Offer to run errands for mom, like going to the grocery store, post office, bank, etc.
• Give a gift that shows your support for her important decision. Here are a few ideas:
- Shawl that keeps her covered in
- Special shirt with nursing flaps
- Sports bottle so she can carry plenty of water with her
- Gift certificate to her favorite clothing store (some of her pre-baby blouses might not fit)
- Over-the-shoulder baby holder
- Cordless phone
- Backpack diaper bag
- Great books for breastfeeding moms include: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League, The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner. This last book suggests it is only good for toddlers, but it also has a wealth of advice for new moms and their families, even if they do not plan to "nurse a toddler."
• If you are visiting mom and baby, keep visits short in the beginning so mom can rest and nurse her newborn.
• Remember that mom needs a lot of food and water. Prepare her favorite dish and make sure she has water next to her at all times, especially when nursing the baby. Mom's food intake will increase, so make sure she eats often.
• Offer to make her more comfortable with pillows. The more relaxed the mother, the easier it is for milk to come in.
• If mom is sleep-deprived, encourage her to try new positions, like lying down. Mom can doze or sleep while baby nurses as long as they are in a secure place without covers or other bedding which can smother baby.
• When mom is nursing the baby, ask her if she would like privacy or company. This preference varies according to each mom. Some moms prefer that you stay with them for company. Others like privacy when baby is first latching on, then want to have company afterwards. Breastfeeding is the norm in many countries and not something you need to run from!
• When planning activities or outings in the first three months of breastfeeding, keep in mind that mom needs to feed the baby every 2 or 3 hours. Choose places that make this easy on mom; expect to stop the car if necessary to allow the baby to nurse.
• Families and spouses should take this opportunity to educate themselves about the benefits and how-tos of breastfeeding. See the books suggested above and attend classes with mom. A local lactation consultant can be very helpful getting mom started.

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