How To: Support Moms' Breastfeeding Journey
How To: Support Moms' Breastfeeding Journey
By Katie Black
As you’re already well aware, having a new baby is both exciting and stressful! New moms have to juggle a lot: their baby’s health, their own mental and physical health, other kids, jobs, and everything else that goes along with parenthood.
For breastfeeding moms this can be an especially hard time. That’s why it’s super important for our communities and loved ones to step up and help new moms in a variety of ways. Here are some ways partners, family members, friends, and employers can pitch in and support both momma and her breastfeeding journey.
Your support can begin before the baby is even born by attending birth and breastfeeding classes together. Paid classes are going to give a more in depth education, but if you don’t have the time or cash there are many free classes online as well (some insurance also covers birthing classes). This is a great way to take some of the mental burden off your partner so they’re not the only one who has to remember everything and can help you give advice and encouragement if she experiences any bumps in the road.
It takes a lot of physical and mental strength to give birth and breastfeed. While your partner is taking care of your baby’s nutritional needs, you can make sure she stays hydrated and is getting enough healthy, nourishing food that supports breastfeeding: grocery delivery services can be a great resource during this time.
This is an important time for bonding between momma and baby, but it’s also important for you and baby to bond. Try some skin to skin contact while your partner takes a shower or gets some rest. And if your newborn is waking up in the middle of the night to nurse that doesn’t mean you can’t also be the one to pick them up and soothe them before handing them off to your partner. You can then make sure your partner has water and a snack during late night feedings.
If your partner uses a breast milk pump, you can wash the parts and bottles so there’s one less thing they have to worry about. Just make sure you do it the right way.
We know it’s very exciting to have a new addition to the family, but make sure you’re not making things more stressful for the baby’s parents. It’s fine to give some attention to the newborn, but you should focus on helping out where you can so mom can spend more time bonding with her new baby. You can make or buy meals, do dishes and laundry and provide childcare and petcare.
If you’re unable to help out, keep your visits short. New parents have enough on their plates without having to play hosts as well.
Just like with relatives, although a new baby is amazing, you should be helping out more than holding the baby unless that’s where you’re needed the most.
There are a lot of ways you can support your friend and her new baby. One of the best things you can do is organize a meal train. Just make sure you know of any allergies, diet restrictions and preferences.
Chipping in with other friends to hire a postpartum doula or lactation consultant can do wonders for your friend’s breastfeeding journey—especially if it’s off to a rough start. And if she’s curious or worried about her breast milk, you can gift her a breast milk test kit.
Encourage your friend and check in with her. Try not to criticize or give unsolicited/non evidence based advice. No two parenting or breastfeeding journeys are the same so don’t compare theirs to yours.
Providing extra care for your breastfeeding employees shouldn’t just be a requirement. It benefits everyone when moms get the support they need and deserve.
It’s your job to make sure moms have a safe, clean, and private space to pump or breastfeed at work (and this can’t be the bathroom!). You also need to give extra break time so she can express milk, as well as access to an electric outlet and a comfortable place to sit.
Check in with her and see if any adjustments need to be made for her work load, or environment.
Breastfeeding shouldn’t just be moms’ responsibility. It really does take a village, and communities should rally around new parents and share the load. If you have any more ideas or things that would have made your breastfeeding journey a little easier, share it in the comments. You can also become part of a whole community of moms by joining the Lactation Lounge where advice, questions, and encouragement are shared.