Breastfeeding Week is a time for us to think as a society about how we can support new mothers & their families better.
Part of that support is helping women feed their babies, and we know that where women receive help from family members in the early weeks and months there is an impact on better breastfeeding outcomes.
Preparing everyone better for the arrival of a new baby (with fact-based information) will help those who want to support a new mum to feel better prepared and really make a difference. Indeed, we should be looking at how we can bring this information into our educational system.
Family members often believe that they can help the new mother by getting baby to take a bottle of expressed milk or formula as they can then help feed baby too. Sometimes this is needed – e.g. when mum is really struggling with sleep – but for many mothers, feeding time is an opportunity to put her feet up, lay back and relax with her baby. She appreciates it because she cannot do anything else!
Partners or other family member can take care of the new mother when she is feeding by bringing her drinks and snacks and making sure she is comfortable. They could help with simple household tasks so the new mother can enjoy a break, such as preparing dinner or helping with simple things around the house.
Once past those initial weeks, breastfeeding usually gets easier and a mother’s confidence grows with feeding at night and when out and about.
Partners and family will discover there is lots to do for a new baby besides feeding, including nappy changes, burping, soothing, etc. and can support and enjoy bonding with baby through these activities to give mum a break from all the holding.
Finally, let’s remember that however the mother is feeding her baby – breast, formula or combined – she will need nurturing as she recovers from pregnancy, labour and the birth during this fourth trimester. Feeling loved and supported, she will be better placed to nurture her baby.
Lynn Murphy is Active Birth Centre’s postnatal expert and has spent many years working with mothers and babies. She is well known for her relaxing, energising and highly informative classes – including New Baby & Me.
Lynn teaches pregnancy yoga and various postnatal courses and workshops. She can also assist with private sessions – email her on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.