Once I got the hang of breastfeeding it was, honestly, effortless. As a result, I continued to nurse until my son was a toddler. However, those first few months were really difficult. Thankfully, I was surrounded by supportive family members and friends, who helped me when things sucked (literally). I don't think I'll ever forget the small things people did for me when I breastfed, because they truly did make all the difference.
Since breastfeeding — especially at the beginning, and especially if you're breastfeeding on demand — can feel like an endless cycle of feedings, the monotony of it all tends to weigh you down. That's when the kindness of loved ones (and even strangers, because there's good in the world, you guys) can make the business of nursing less stressful for everyone involved. Before I gave birth, my mom helped me create these wonderful "breastfeeding baskets" on each floor of my house. These delightful baskets contained breast pads, a spare shirt, lanolin, and receiving blankets. Trust me when I say that seemingly small thing, made long or unexpected nursing sessions much easier to manage.
In order to breastfeed successfully mothers need to be well rested, hydrated, have good nutrition, feel comfortable, and obtain the necessary tools to successfully manage their stress. That's a tall order for a postpartum woman so, in other words, mothers can't do it alone. Small kindnesses can make a seriously large difference, so if you know a breastfeeding woman, consider helping her out by doing one (or all) of the following:
They Gave Me Water
I was so thirsty when I was breastfeeding. It was incredible. I could down a pint of water and still feel ridiculously thirsty. My partner starting bringing me two water bottles every single time I sat down to nurse. My hero.
They Gave Helpful Advice
Of course, there's no end to the amount of unsolicited, not-necessarily-helpful advice you're going to receive when you're a parent. However, some of that advice can be monumentally helpful.
My lactation consultant and some experienced mom friends gave me lots of practical advice on how to make nursing easier, as well as tips and tricks to try for myself when I experienced setbacks or problems. Their advice really was invaluable.
They Made Me Feel Comfortable
Making a breastfeeding mom comfortable is an important job, and one that my partner took very seriously.
In those first few months, as both myself and my baby learned the breastfeeding ropes, my man would bring me pillows, blankets, water, snacks and, of course, the remote control. He was quick to do anything to make me more comfortable, which not only helped me breastfeed but made me feel like I wasn't alone.
They Gvae Me The WiFi Password
A local cafe owner didn't need to be asked more than once, and that means a great deal to me (and, I'd argue, any breastfeeding woman who has to pass the nursing time by perusing the internet). As soon as I arrived for my daily decaf and settled into a cozy spot to nurse, he would run over with the day's WiFi password so that mama didn't miss a thing while she was multitasking. Not all heroes wear capes.
They Painted My Toenails
In the crazy first few weeks of being a new mom, I complained to one of my friends that I was sick of constantly nursing and just wanted to go and get my nails done. She kindly obliged by panting my toenails hot pink, while I fed my baby. You guys, that's ultimate #FriendshipGoals.
They Fixed Me A Meal
My mom helped out when my son was born by making dinner for us all, then freezing the leftovers in individual containers so that we had meals for months. That small act was literally life-changing.
They Gave Me All The Snacks
The person who brings me a tray of snacks when I am breastfeeding wins all the awards.
They Took Photographs
Not in a creepy way, mind you. Taking a picture of someone without their consent is gross, you guys. Don't do it.
However, my partner and I arranged to have breastfeeding photographs taken by a professional photographer to capture this fleeting moment in our lives. Those pictures hang in my bedroom and make me feel empowered, capable, and beautiful. I love them.
They Refused To Judge Me
My online mommy group gave me so much support when I was new to breastfeeding, and that bolstered my overall confident. The forums were a safe space to post questions, complain and vent about any challenges I was experiencing, and to let it all out without any fear of judgement.
Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but the people around you can make it a less stressful experience. Really and truly, simple acts of kindness can go a long way.