Motherhood and having a newborn is a crazy journey, a rollercoaster ride, and a whirlwind all wrapped into one. Whether you’re a first-time mummy, a multiple mama, or a new daddy, the way you feed your baby will be a high topic of discussion for at least the first few weeks of your new baby’s life.
For me, I always intended to breastfeed. Yes, I bought bottles, sterilisers, and midnight prep machines but I also purchased nursing bras (see my favourite ones here), nipple shields, and sat through numerous breastfeeding classes.
Before my baby boy arrived in February, I had something of a rose-tinted glasses view of what my breastfeeding journey would look like. I envisioned snuggly sessions on the sofa with zero pain, lovingly looking into my child’s eyes as he suckled peacefully and whipping my boob out without a care in the world for my calm child. I had imagined that I’d be an Earth mother, that breastfeeding wouldn’t be painful or awkward and that I would take to it completely naturally.
Fast forward to the birth of my child, the quick crash course on latching in the hospital and then going it alone. The reality of breastfeeding was so far away from the idyllic dream from above.
Breastfeeding is tough. It’s beautiful, and rewarding and the bonding it gives you is second to none. But, wow, it is also painful, often a minefield, and a bit lonely.
Today’s blog post is all about how you can support a breastfeeding mama – whether you are one yourself and remember those early days well, you’re a new grandparent, you’re a husband/partner or you’re a pal. Us mamas need and deserve all the support we can get, so use these 5 easy ideas to help support the ones you love!
1. Listen, encourage & support.
Having a new baby and being severely sleep deprived can make the steadiest new family emotional and snappy. Add to that, a new human is learning how to feed from your body. It’s a lot.
There will be days where you feel like giving up, crying and completely helpless.
The best way to support a breastfeeding Mama when she feels like this is to listen to her. Just let her voice her feelings, worries, and fears. Then encourage her by reassuring her that she’s doing an amazing job, her baby loves her and everything is tough before it gets better.
Support for breastfeeding mamas is not what it should be. Be that pillar for her by visiting with muffins, chocolate and an open ear!
2. Do NOT keep asking if the baby is hungry.
Babies cry, right? A HUGE bugbear for me when my breastfeeding journey was just beginning was when I’d be told that my baby was hungry and needed feeding every time he cried.
Please know and understand that you know your baby better than anyone, you’ll know if they’re hungry/want comfort/need a cuddle/have a dirty nappy.
Sometimes all the baby needs is to be away from you and the smell of your milk for a few minutes to settle. Breastfeeding comes with many challenges including not fully knowing how much milk your baby is having per feed, cluster feeding, and pain. By asking if baby is hungry over and over, you could be undermining her hard work and making her question whether her baby is full. Remember, mummy knows best!
If you want to support a breastfeeding mama, help her with those things and DON’T keep asking her if her baby is hungry!
3. Make sure she’s got all the gear.
I had no clue how many things would help to make my breastfeeding journey easier. As you can tell, I was quite naive to it all and just thought I’d take to it like a duck to water. Without my tools, my journey would have been cut short long ago!
These three things have transformed how I breastfeed:
- Comfortable maternity bras.
- Silver nipple shields with healing properties.
- Breast pump with adapter for pumping straight into bags.
Be that friend that gifts lovely Cake Maternity bras or helps to clip the bra back into place when feeding in public. Help your mummy friend get sorted by keeping her silver nipple shields safe when she’s cluster feeding. Make sure she can pump when she needs to by playing with and distracting the baby.
The tools make life easier, breastfeeding less painful, bring on milk supply, and make it all a bit more pleasurable.
4. Be her biggest cheerleader!
Any new mum will have good days and bad days. Sometimes we feel like we’ve cracked it only to be hit with a terrible night where you’re up every hour. There are glorious moments of pure joy and laughter but also moments of dread, fear, and lots of tears.
During those early days, I found myself getting tearful around 5pm. I felt completely daunted and overwhelmed by what would lay ahead in the night. Going up the stairs to bed filled me with dread. I was in pain and I hated that it made me upset.
Needless to say, those feelings flare up less and less now. My baby is now 9 weeks old and I feel like I’ve got a hold of things a bit more – the sleepless nights are less but I feel like I’ve got the tools to deal with it better now that we’re a bit settled.
You can support a breastfeeding Mama by being her biggest cheerleader in these moments – and in the moments when she feels like she’s smashing it.
Tell her how well she is doing, celebrate her achievements, encourage her to keep going on good and bad days, and let her know how tough it is but how brilliantly she is doing!
5. Make her comfortable.
Certain breastfeeding positions call for all the cushions and pillows for support. If you’re a mummy recovering from a C section, you’ll find it hard to get comfortable but when you do, you won’t want to move.
Maybe you aren’t confident breastfeeding in public. Perhaps your baby doesn’t like to be covered when feeding and it all becomes a bit of a palava!
You can support a breastfeeding mama by being the one ready with the pillows, knowing which position she wants to feed in, helping her, shielding her if she wants to be discreet, being ready with a muslin when she needs it and holding the baby while she whips her boobs out.
Simple acts like this really make all the difference and go a long, long way!
No matter if you’re bottle feeding, combi-feeding or exclusively breastfeeding your baby, know that you’re doing an incredible job! Don’t be too hard on yourself, enjoy every second of the baby love, and never give up on a bad day!