Choosing to breastfeed is a big commitment for a mom, and receiving some much-needed and well-deserved support for this undertaking can truly aid in the success of her nursing experience. Over the past few years, many women have been working to normalize breastfeeding by posting pictures of themselves nursing their babies and taking a stand in public places that have shamed the practice. Although these efforts are change-making, you don't need to organize a sit-in breastfeeding session to show breastfeeding moms you have their back. Sometimes expressing your support means taking on little things to do to help a breastfeeding mom.
If you have a woman in your life who is breastfeeding a child, you have probably seen (or heard her talk about) how much time, energy, and emotion is wrapped up in the process. For me, breastfeeding was only mildly successful, which made me feel like my body had failed to do something is was designed to perform. However, with the love and support of family and friends, I was able to make peace with my experience and not feel judged.
Use these 11 ideas of little things you can do to help out a mom who's breastfeeding, because she will appreciate all your efforts of support.
1. Let Her Have A Break
Every time a newborn cries, it isn't based on hunger. As Parenting magazine pointed out, you shouldn't hand off a crying baby to a nursing mother because you assume the baby is hungry. Try other soothing methods to calm the baby and give mama a break.
2. Connect Her With A Group
Feeling connected to others with the same breastfeeding goals can help mothers in more ways than one. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out, having peer support for breastfeeding helped mothers reach their goals for nursing, as well as feel encouraged and supported in their efforts.
3. Provide A Space For Them
If you work in an office with a breastfeeding mother, work with your employer to provide a space for her to pump milk. According to the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health, "supporting nursing mothers at work has been found to bring businesses a positive return on investment."
4. Support Her Choices
Every breastfeeding mother makes different choices about how she is going to nurse her child. To help her be successful you should support breastfeeding mom's personal choices about when, where, and how long she wants to breastfeed, according to the website for the American Academy of Family Physicians.
5. Encourage Without Shaming
When I was struggling with breastfeeding my kids, it made all the difference when someone was encouraging without judgement. Every time someone would say, "You have to keep trying, it's the best thing for your baby," I felt so shamed for not being successful, as if my baby would suffer. Kind and loving encouragement makes you feel supported and not judged.
6. Be Kind With Comments
As Today's Parents pointed out, mothers with public lives have been ridiculed for posting breastfeeding pics on social media, and some of the comments are just plain mean. If someone you know posts a breastfeeding pic, make a supportive comment. Or, as the saying goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.
7. Spread The Word
As the website for La Leche League International pointed out, normalizing breastfeeding takes critical mass, meaning the more we see and speak of it in a positive way, the less taboo it becomes. Helping to spread the world that breastfeeding is one of the most natural things mammals do, helps not only breastfeeding moms you know, but breastfeeding moms everywhere.
8. Offer To Feed The Baby
Give mama a break by offering to feed the baby a bottle of expressed milk. This will give her a chance to take a shower, grab lunch without interruption, and just put her feet up for a while. She deserves a break.
9. Step In When Needed
A sweet story of kindness was reported by Today, about a breastfeeding woman eating breakfast alone, and a kind stranger who cut up her eggs while she nursed her baby. This allowed the mother to eat (with one hand) while her food was still warm. These small gestures go a long way.
10. Offer Her Your Seat
If you're in a public setting and notice a breastfeeding mother standing to feed her little one, offer up your seat to give her a comfortable and relaxing spot to nurse her baby.
11. Volunteer For The Graveyard Shift
If you are the partner to a breastfeeding mom, give her the gift of some glorious Zs. As Parenting magazine pointed out, partners can offer support at night by taking on baby duties while mama gets some sleep.