This year, World Breastfeeding Awareness Week focused on the support a woman needs to succeed at breastfeeding or pumping breast milk.
We all want our children to have the best start in life. We know through research and experience that breast milk is the very best nutrition for newborns. So, a new mother may feel bad if she doesn’t immediately succeed with breastfeeding. But most women who breastfeed struggle and need help from someone.
Most babies don’t know what to do when it comes to breastfeeding. Some babies figure it out right away, but others need a few days or even longer to get into the rhythm of breastfeeding.
Moms are often exhausted, sore, insecure and scared they are not doing it perfectly. Moms need help figuring out how to hold the baby at the breast, what a normal suckle feels like, how to deal with their ever-changing breasts and take care of themselves. Some mothers have to pump their breast milk and need help doing that, too.
Anyone can support a new mother who is breastfeeding
If you are a friend, sister, mother or husband, you can help a new mom who is trying to do what is best for her baby. Being supportive of a new mom during this critical time is important. She needs encouragement to increase her confidence and give her the strength she needs to keep trying and stay positive.
New mothers need to know that milk does not come in completely until 3-5 days after giving birth, and even then it is in very small amounts. Mothers need to know how to contact their support systems — a lactation consultant, doctor, birthing center or peer counselors — to get help.
If you can’t help with breastfeeding, offer to mow the lawn, do the grocery shopping or fold laundry. This will allow the new mother to relax and enjoy her baby. And, keep encouraging the new mother in your life. Make sure she knows it’s OK to ask for help from others.
- Linda McNamara, RN, BS, IBCLC, RLC, lactation consultant, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has board-certified lactation consultants who support breastfeeding mothers. Our lactation consultants focus on supporting mothers in providing breast milk to their babies through breastfeeding and expression (removing milk from their breasts). They also provide educational and support services to families and staff.