*Note: This article was written for people who are trying to help someone who WANTS to breastfeed. Please do not pressure a mom or make them feel guilty about their choices. My goal is to give you ways to help a mom in need!
When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I took all the classes and read all the books. Still I just assumed it would all happen naturally. She would come out, latch on, and instant bonding would occur. Well it didn’t go according to plan. In fact, she wouldn’t latch on at all. It was 6 weeks before she latched.
Through all of that, I had lots of well-meaning people offering to help. Unfortunately, their help was often counterproductive to what I was trying to achieve. People would try to help by telling me, “It’s okay to stop. You have tried really hard!” or “Don’t be down, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.” Instead of listening to their advice, I started going to Le Leche League meetings and found that many women who were struggling were being offered the same “help.” At that point, I made it my mission to be the help breastfeeding women needed. Rather than tell a woman it’s okay if she can’t, I try to give her the confidence that she can. Here are some of the ways I help new moms wanting to achieve their breastfeeding goals:
- If you know a woman who is planning on breastfeeding, begin helping her before the baby is even born. All of the local hospitals provide breastfeeding classes or you could purchase her the book, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” She can also begin attending Le Leche League meetings. The Baton Rouge chapter of LLL meets on the second Friday of every month at 10 am at Abiding Hope Fellowship.
- After the baby arrives, encourage her to meet with the lactation consultants at the hospital. If she can’t drive yet, bring her. They are free while you are still a patient but well worth the money after you have been discharged. If money is an issue, make that your baby gift to her. She will be forever grateful!
- If she feels there is a supply issue, I tell her how to help increase her milk by taking fenugreek, More Milk Plus, drinking a dark stout beer, drinking LOTS of water. I even make her a batch of yummy lactation cookies.
- If she feels the baby is not getting enough milk, I recommend talking to her pediatrician or a lactation consultant about a possible tongue-tie or lip tie that the baby may have. If she has questions about engorgement, thrush, mastitis, or other common complications, I give her what knowledge I have but also direct her to www.kellymom.com or anything written by Jack Newman, specifically on www.breastfeedingonline.com
- Being overwhelmed and feeling alone are normal for a new mom, especially when things aren’t going perfectly. Offer to babysit any other children she may have or do some laundry and cleaning so she can rest.
- Cook a meal! As simple as it may sound, it was a lifesaver when I had Emmeline! A simple meal will mean the world to a tired momma. Something as simple as a whole baked chicken, veggies, baked potatoes, lacation cookies for mom, and regular cookies for everyone esle! Throw in some breakfast muffins and paper plates and you will have a friend for life!
Breastfeeding is hard! It is one of the hardest things I have ever done! But it is also one of the most rewarding. I did finally get Ava to nurse and we continued that relationship until she was 2.5 years old. I never thought I would have troubles again but with Emmeline it was even worse! Fortunately, I already had my strong support system in place and was able to work through every issue we had! Now she is 6.5 months old and still happily nursing.
Beautiful photo provided by K & B Photography.