Breastfeeding is no walk in the park. Ask any mom who has done it before or who is currently breastfeeding, and she will tell you all about the woes and wins of her journey nursing her child. Though breastfeeding is different for every mom, chances are that most moms have struggled with it whether they've breastfed for two weeks or two years.
If you're a friend or partner to a breastfeeding mom, you have an invaluable role. Whether you know it or not, the ways you support breastfeeding women can be powerful. For me, my friends and fellow breastfeeding moms, have been my support system as I've nursed my daughter and my husband has been my anchor during the late nights when the baby wasn't sleeping and only wanted to use me as a pacifier.
Most people don't know about the hard parts of nursing — the chapped nipples, swollen breasts, and feeling of having no time for yourself (and, of course, the judgmental eyes when you need to nurse in public.) Being an advocate for all breastfeeding women will not only encourage and empower them, but make you that much more of an awesome friend or partner.
1. Tell Her She's Doing Great
Sometimes the most helpful thing is encouragement. Tell her that, whether or not you can relate, she's a great mom and she can do this.
2. Give Her A Break
Though no one can feed the baby but her, offer to watch the kiddo between feedings. Or if she pumps, grab a bottle and let that mama rest for a few hours.
3. Be Informed
Do your research about the benefits of breastfeeding. She will appreciate that you took the time to learn about something she obviously cares about.
4. Don't Shame Her
This should go without saying, but real life is often a different scenario. If you disagree with something she's doing or chose a different route for your kids, remember that she's doing what she believes is best for her baby. And besides, you wouldn't want her making comments about your choices.
5. Defend Her
Similarly, if someone else tries to shame your friend, make sure to have her back. Channel your sassy side and throw out a snarky comment or eye roll. Your friend will appreciate it
6. Don't Make Assumptions
Breastfeeding looks different for every mom. It doesn't always come easy. Maybe she is struggling with the baby's latch, or maybe she's dealing with painful mastitis. Assuming just makes an...well, you know the rest. Ask her what's going on and how you can help, rather than jumping in with your own thoughts.