Previously written and published by Ivy Bagly in 2019
Hello everyone. One of our family medicine colleagues (and certified lactation consultant) Ivy Bagly, asked to be a guest blogger in honor of World Breastfeeding Week (held annually in August). Her blog addresses how friends, family and co-workers can help support a breastfeeding mom.
When choosing to feed your baby, it is important to realize there are predominately three paths:
1. breastfeeding or giving pumped breast milk exclusively
2. supplementing and breastfeeding
3. formula feeding
Each path has its own bumps in the road. No matter which path you choose, you are a great mom! Parenting is hard and filled with many, many choices. This is the first of many informed choices you will make, and ultimately, you will choose the best decision for your family unit.
If you nurse for three weeks, nurse through many problems while you supplement; or if you nurse for 6 months and decide to wean; always say “I breastfed for x amount of time.” Don’t say, “I only breastfed for a short period of time.” Be proud and celebrate your accomplishment – you breastfed.
Enjoy Ivy’s post below, and thanks for sharing Ivy!
World Breastfeeding Month is celebrated every August. This month provides an opportunity to engage the community in supporting breastfeeding families. The 2019 theme is “Support Changes Everything.” Studies clearly indicate moms who feel supported will breastfeed longer and report a more positive experience with nursing overall.
How Can You Support a Breastfeeding Mom
There are many ways partners, family members, and even the community can provide moms with the supportive environment for nursing.
1. HELPING AROUND THE HOUSE
Support Partners and family members can help by providing meals, offering to wash a load of laundry, or running errands. Family and friends can bring meals to help with the transition. And, there are many online “meal trains” one can utilize to provide organization to simple meals or even take-out. These can be customized to include favorite foods, likes/dislikes, and allergies. You can even specify the time you wish to have meals delivered.
2. KEEPING MOM’S NURSING AREA STOCKED & READY
While mom is nursing, it is important to be available to bring items- extra snacks, more water, her phone, or maybe even diapers/wipes. Support Partners can also burp, change, snuggle, rock, bathe, or facilitate nap time. And, if mom is pumping, you can give one of the nighttime feedings. Although these tasks are great for helping you bond with the baby, they also allow mom to take a much-needed break.
Creating an environment in the home that is breastfeeding-friendly helps facilitate optimal feeding. Items to consider are a rocker or chair, a table for snacks and water, comfy pillows, and a blanket for mom. Although not required, most moms find having an electrical outlet close for their phone charger or breast pump can come in handy as well.
3. LISTEN TO MOM, SHE MAY NEED HELP
The best way to support a breastfeeding mother is by simply offering a listening ear. Perhaps mom needs to speak with her OBGYN or see a lactation consultant (IBCLC) for assistance. Offering to schedule those appointments along with attending the office visit gives her extra support while also proving another set of ears to hear the suggestions.
It is important for any feeding issues or concerns to be addressed as soon as they arise. IBCLCs undergo intense training to assist with breastfeeding and are great at troubleshooting problems. They are part of your team along with the family’s OBGYN provider, pediatrician, and most importantly your family unit. Working together will promote a better feeding experience for the family unit.
4. COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROUPS & EVENTS
It is also vital for families to learn about support within their own community. For example, Wake Med offers breastfeeding support groups at various locations throughout the triangle. They also offer breastfeeding classes- which are a great resource to take prior to delivery and provide education post-delivery as well. Various other programs are available throughout the triangle- simply ask your pediatrician or OBGYN for more information.
And, remember, the ultimate goal is for families to feel well supported while having a great nursing experience!
Ivy Bagly, MSN FNP-C IBCLC