1. Share your successful breastfeeding stories and experiences and leave the negative experience or breastfeeding "horror stories" for another person......a new mom is already emotionally full as she processes her birth experience and contemplates motherhood...she is full of desire to be successful at breastfeeding and bonding with her new baby. Offering stories of challenges may not fill her with the inspiration she needs, especially if she is struggling.....certainly let her know she is not alone even if there are struggles but adding to the list of "what if" and "could that happen to me" worries is probably going to have a negative effect.
2. Bring her food!! And NO it does not have to be bland and boring just because she is breastfeeding. Most nursing babies have no problem with any foods a mother eats even spicy or bold flavors. You could ask a mother about her preferences but don't hold back on foods she enjoys. Or make her easy-to-grab, healthy snacks that she can store in her nursing nest and can eat while she feeds the baby!
3. Pamper mom!! Bring her some flowers to brighten the room, offer a foot rub or shoulder massage or bring her some chamomile tea to relax. Fill Momma's love tank so she can fill baby's!!!
4. During a feeding help her relax.....if you are present for a feeding, and you see mom getting tense, some gentle relaxation reminders can be helpful! Sometimes her shoulders creep up to her ears. Reminding her to relax and encouraging a few deep breaths can even help with the milk letting down!
5. Ask her what tasks around the house would help reduce her stress.....often times offering to hold the baby or take the baby so she can rest will only stress the mom more or make her feel inadequate as a mother. What may enable her to relax and focus on the baby is clearing the kitchen sink or doing some laundry. Straightening a room or walking the dog? Ask her!!
6. Be the gate keeper.....the early days of learning to breastfeed are usually filled with fumbling and adjusting as mom and baby learn the dance of latching. Mothers may find it hard to manage and focus if there are many visitors stopping in. Help decrease visitors, and you may also want to hold off on long visits until she requests it or feels up to them!
7. Send encouraging texts and emails....let her know how proud you are of her efforts to breastfeed, her dedication to breastfeeding, her amazing mothering abilities.......a simple text like " You are an awesome mom and every drop of breastmilk you give your baby is a precious gift!" can carry her to through a long feeding at 2 am or a round of evening cluster feedings!
8. If she needs help...help her find good help.....IBCLC's are the gold standard forlactation care, bring her a list of local IBCLC's to call on if she is having any issues!
9. Look up her local chapter of La Leche League and help her get to a meeting! Mother to mother breastfeeding support is invaluable.....she needs to feel like she is not alone.....even if everything is going well, it is good to meet other like-minded moms doing all the same things she is!
10. Help educate others around the new mother about ways to help support her! If you are reading this blog, there is a strong likelihood that you have a new mom in your life.....pass this blog on to others in her life as well. Create a "village" around this new mom to inspire and support her on the journey of breastfeeding her baby. Each child we see breastfed in this generation will contribute to a healthier and happier world in the next!!