Breastfeeding, like most parts of motherhood, comes with it's own set of challenges. For many moms, it doesn't come as naturally as they hoped. They may feel pressured to switch to formula, or maybe they've been shamed for nursing in public. Whatever the case may be, there are many things you can say to a breastfeeding mom that will help them instead of hurt them. Sometimes all a mom needs is encouragement that she's doing the right thing for her and her baby.
When I started breastfeeding my first baby, I remember being shocked at how awkward it was. I had never really held a newborn, let alone tried to get one to latch on and nurse properly. I was intent on breastfeeding, however. And after lots of failed attempts on my own, I eventually saw a lactation consultant. Her encouragement and reassurance that bumps in the road are normal helped me gain confidence in myself as a mom and my capabilities to feed my baby.
You don't have to be a lactation consultant to encourage a breastfeeding mom though. Sometimes the most powerful influences are friends and family members. And with all of the negativity moms face, a little bit of encouragement will go a long way.
1. "It's Okay To Not Always Love It."
To many moms, breastfeeding doesn't come naturally. Whether you've breastfed or not, let her know that just like any part of motherhood, it won't always be fun. And that's totally okay.
2. "Can I Get You Anything?"
While both of her hands are preoccupied, offer to grab her some water or her phone. Sometimes it's nice to have someone there to offer help.
3. "Trust Your Body."
Sometimes a simple encouragement can go a long ways. Even when she doesn't feel like it, her body was made for breastfeeding.
4. "Do You Want Some Food?"
Believe it or not, nursing moms love food more than the average person. They're hungry all the time and actually need to eat a bit more than normal too. So, yes, she wants you to get her food.
5. "You're An Amazing Mom."
This little phrase means more than you know to a breastfeeding mom, or any mom, for that matter.
6. "Go Take A Nap."
Don't ask if she needs one, because she'll say no. Watch her child (or children) and let that mama get some rest.
7. "Trust Your Instincts."
Though it doesn't always feel like it, the phrase "mother knows best" is usually spot on. When she feels like she's not doing a great job, reassure her that, actually, she's killing it.
8. "Thank You."
Breastfeeding, like almost every other part of motherhood, takes sacrifice and putting your body second for the health of your baby. Recognizing the choice she's made with a simple thank you could encourage her to keep going.
More often than not, you don't need to say anything at all. Her confidence in her decision to breastfeed is all that matters. While the support of her friends and family is important, ultimately it's between her and her baby.