Oh the advice us new breastfeeding mums receive (and sometimes give ourselves!)…
We go through our whole pregnancy having to listen to people tell us we look;
“Huge”, “Small”, “Wow! You are so overdue!”, “You’re going to use drugs during your labour?!”, “You’re NOT going to use drugs?!”, “Wow, you are carrying so low you will definitely have a baby monkey instead of a human”, “Seriously, how can you continue to breastfeed your toddler while pregnant? You will definitely hurt your unborn baby”…and the list goes on!! Once our baby arrives the endless comments and advice comes full force with no break in sight. So often I have read what NOT to say to a new mum, various unhelpful, un-supportive things that are said by doctors, mother in laws, sisters or aunts. What we need though is a list of supportive things we CAN say. Things that the woman’s partner, friend or family member can say that will be helpful and encouraging to a new breastfeeding mum. As new mums we are exhausted, we think we are doing everything wrong, we want advice but hear three different opinions as solutions to the one problem. We have huge engorged boobs that leak, our babies cry for reasons we can’t figure out, we wonder, “Am I doing this right?”
Here are twelve supportive, encouraging things you can say to a new breastfeeding mum; your friend, partner, sister in law, neighbor or stranger on the street you see breastfeeding in public……
1. “Your baby looks just gorgeous!” Yes, her baby might look like a midget and super skinny, might look like a four month old sumo wrestle or might be “not very gorgeous” shall we say…regardless it does not matter. This mums thinks her baby is gorgeous and while everyone else might point out that her baby is skinny and wonders if she is getting “enough”, it will be nice for her to talk with someone who DOESN’T point this out to her.
2. “That’s great to hear that your baby is waking frequently to breastfeed. Although it is tiring, it will build and keep up your supply, and all of your baby’s night time needs are being met by breastfeeding. Now go lie down for a bit while I hold your baby so you can take a little rest.” (Don’t ask her, she will say “No,it’s OK” just offer to do it). Every new mum needs a bit of shut eye. Then when she wakes up do her dishes and a load of laundry.
3. “Your baby is feeding frequently 24/7? That’s great! He knows just what to do to keep your supply up!” Many mums worry that frequent feeding means they do not have enough milk. Let her know that most mums feel like ALL they do in the beginning is breastfeed. Also let her know that if her baby has at least 6 wet nappies per twenty four hour period, about 2-3 bowel movements, is generally content after a feed and gaining weight then baby is getting enough.
4. “Instead of focusing on how your baby looks while feeding or how you are holding him, try getting into the laid back breastfeeding position which will encourage him to self attach.” Often times mums hyper focus on their baby’s mouth and how it looks when attaching, how they are holding them or if they are latching them on properly. Just getting skin to skin and encouraging self attachment often times leads to a much easier breastfeed for mum and baby.
5. “I was totally sleep deprived as well!!! It SUCKS! Here are some ideas on how to get more sleep (without putting your baby into a routine or having to train them)”…then send them to my article 🙂
6. “That’s awesome that your baby is falling asleep at your breast. There are components in your breastmilk which help relax both you and your baby.” The books that warn against doing this do not discuss how it is the biological norm for your baby to fall asleep while breastfeeding. It is natural, what most babies do, and does not last forever. Enjoy it while you can!
7. “Offer boob first, if that does not work then try ‘the circuit’!” Offer boob, put them in a baby carrier/sling, swaddle your baby, pass them to a friend/partner/mother/sister, go for a walk outside, get into the bath with them, REPEAT! Eventually one will work. 🙂
8. “You will feel guilt, question what you are doing and second guess yourself constantly. This is motherhood.” Remind her that we all are unsure of what to do, we are all in this together and we are doing the best we can.
9. “Your baby breastfeeds for many different reasons other than hunger, one reason is not more important than the other. When in doubt, whip it out!” Often times as new mums we question our babies, “How can you be hungry again?” It can be helpful for new mums to be reminded that hunger is only one of many reasons to mother through breastfeeding.
10. “If you have questions about anything seek help from an IBCLC or volunteer breastfeeding counselor straight away. Often times getting help earlier, rather than later can prevent many problems down the road.”
11. “It’s wonderful to see you breastfeeding in public, you are making it easier for other mothers to do the same.” Many of us first time breastfeeders feel self conscious when feeding in public. Having someone come up and say this can give the extra boost needed to keep on breastfeeding no matter where baby and mum happen to be.
12. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…“Trust your instincts and follow the lead of your baby”. Has her doctor told her something she feels is not the best option for her or her baby? Has she been given advice that does not seem right?Encourage her to listen to her motherly instincts and her baby. Encourage her to get a second opinion…she will then be able to look back and know that she did the right thing.