Breastfeeding, like parenting, unexpectedly altered everything about me. I found it an avenue to dive into the topics of food, health, well being, parenting and attachment and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on a topic that has endless opportunities to learn about myself, my growing baby and my body.
My breastfeeding journey with each of my children was unique, but had many similarities. I found much support and direction from a group of smart, supportive women in my community (La Leche League of Montgomery County East). I also pulled from a variety of resources to collect tools and emotional support along a journey that shifted my view and reframed my perspective on mothering through breastfeeding.
Perhaps you are the partner of a breastfeeding mother or the grandparent of a breastfed baby and you find yourself in unusual territory. Here are 3 ways to show your support for the woman you love:
Go get a glass of water and set it in front of a breastfeeding mother.
Don’t ask if they want it, they NEED it and it will be much appreciated. There were many times when I’d sit down to nurse and the second Brady or Meadow latched on, an overwhelming sense of thirst took over me. A friend once suggested creating “water stations” around the house and just leaving water bottles where you frequently nursed. That is such good advice!
Show interest in hunger cues and encourage feeding.
There are signs that a newborn gives when they are hungry. Here’s a handy tool to interpret them. Learning to notice them is like having a conversation with the little baby in your life without words.
I often felt worried that I was feeding my son too often. Once I realized how easily and efficiently breastmilk is digested, I understood that he wasn’t being a bugger when he was hungry just 30 minutes after a feeding, but that his body had efficiently processed his milk and was ready for some more! Our first pediatrician warned me not to be the pacifier and further warned against nursing for comfort. I was perplexed by that because I felt that was my job and the beauty in breastfeeding – I was providing food and drink along with comfort and security. I could not love this essay more – on the beauty of being a human pacifier.
Provide a pillow and reading material.
It’s the little things, but these make a HUGE difference!
Because I had so many supportive mothers who had been where I was to help me on my breastfeeding journey, I choose to offer the same support in return serving as a La Leche League Leader for 2+ years. No matter if your goal is one week or 5 years, you may have many questions – from technical to emotional – and hopefully some of these resources at the bottom may offer guidance.
- The most helpful book I found was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. You can buy it through the local LLL group I mentioned above for $10.
- Infant Risk Center – If you are taking a medication, say getting a cavity filled, or whatever, call them and they will talk to you about the latest research on whether or not to nurse the baby and how soon. I called multiple times and spoke to a real human.
- United States Breastfeeding Committee – Leadership, advocacy and collaboration resource.
- Embarrassed: Spoken Word by Holly McNish – a beautiful spoken word piece of her experience breastfeeding in public. It gives me chills every time.
And if you are passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers – support them! Much of the research states that the community around a nursing mother is one of the most important tools to help her meet her personal goals.
Go to local meetings of whatever group makes sense to you and volunteer or host a gathering. La Leche League has annual local conferences that I attended and even co-led a session and those were very fulfilling and exciting learning opportunities.
Top Photo Credit: Pixabay