10 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Person

The Boob Group – 10 Ways to Support Breastfeeding Moms

Why this podcast?
I like this podcast as it comes across as light, fun and chatty while still managing to cover some really important topics.

The Boob Group falls under the umbrella of New Mommy Media and its sister podcasts include Preggie Pals and Newbies.

Along with a panel of women who always sound like they are having a blast, there is often an expert along for the ride.

Episodes tend to be around forty minutes and of course, you can always fast forward through the commercials and the chit chat at the beginning.

Why this episode?
This looked like a fun one to listen to and I was curious what kind of ideas they had. It’s also an important topic.

Breastfeeding takes time to learn for both the parent and baby and it can be tough.

Sometimes it’s tough for a week or two, sometimes quite a bit longer.

It can be wonderful but it is also a huge commitment, both emotionally and physically, so breastfeeding people deserve and need a whole lot of support.

I hope this episode will give partners, family members, friends and neighbours some ideas on how they can provide that support!

The episode
I think we’ll just get straight to it, shall we?

The first five tips are aimed at what your partner can do to support your breastfeeding journey.

Tip #1 – Educate themselves about breastfeeding
The best time to do this is probably before your baby arrives but after can work too.

They don’t have to become experts but knowing the basics can be really helpful for, well, everyone.

Attending a breastfeeding class together during pregnancy could be a great way for your partner to get educated and to have any questions answered.

Tip #2 – Discuss your breastfeeding goals with your partner
Being on the same page about your hopes and expectations for your breastfeeding journey is huge.

That way, on the days when you are feeling discouraged, your partner can remind you of your plans and encourage you to keep going.

Tip #3 – Tell them how well they are doing!
Encouragement goes such a long way. Especially in the early days when it can be hard to trust that you are doing it right or that it’s working.

Having someone there to reassure you that you are doing a wonderful job can really help.

Tip #4 – Give them a break
Or several. As the partner, you are probably not going to be able to breastfeed your baby but you can still be involved in the feeds, yes, including the night-time ones.

Bring your partner a glass of water and a snack, ask if they need extra pillows or help to arrange them, burp the baby and do the diaper change.

All of these things will not only give the person breastfeeding some extra rest but will make you feel more involved too.

If you haven’t been before, now is also a good time to get into the housework! It’s much more relaxing and enjoyable to breastfeed when you don’t have a huge list in your head of things you need to get done.

So, put on some laundry, get out the hoover or take over making dinner so that your partner can focus on the baby.

Tip #5 – Find support for your partner if needed
If there are breastfeeding challenges that could mean a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League but it might simply be some emotional support from a fellow breastfeeding parent.

If you can, have a list of support people on hand before your baby is born.

Trying to research and find support options in a crisis can just pile on extra stress for you both.

 The next five tips focus on how family and friends can support breastfeeding families

Tip #6 – Trust the breastfeeding parent’s instincts!
If the baby was fed forty-five minutes ago and is now being fed again, that’s ok!

There’s no need to worry and definitely no need to comment.

If the breastfeeding person says they need to feed their baby in the restaurant before heading home or at the bus stop before hopping on the bus, trust that.

They have probably spent almost twenty-four hours a day with their baby since the minute they were born and know best what they need and when they need it.

You can offer your support by getting them some water and asking if there is anything else they need but beyond that, just sit back and wait.

Tip #7 – Encourage the breast-feeding person to feel comfortable nursing in front of you
I love this!

Breasts are made for breastfeeding.

If you can be comfortable with that it will make it so much easier for both you and the breastfeeder.

You might also find that the more you see breastfeeding the more comfortable you become with it.

Educating yourself on all the benefits of breastfeeding for both parent and baby might also be helpful.

If you are truly not comfortable seeing a baby feed then feel free to leave but please do not expect the breastfeeding person and their baby to change the way they nurse to accommodate you.

Tip #8 – Help with the housework
This is especially helpful in the first few weeks and months postpartum when the new family is focused on what they need to be focused on – their baby.

When you come to visit, don’t ask if you can help, ask how you can help.

Hoovering, laundry, dishes, cooking, taking older kids out for an hour, walking the dog, running errands or even holding the baby while the parent showers or takes a nap can all be hugely helpful.

Tip #9 – Organise a meal train
Finding time to cook or even grab a sandwich in those first few weeks can be tough!

Knowing that people are going to be dropping off meals or even easy to grab snacks, takes so much pressure off a new family.

Tip #10 – Avoid offering advice
Now, there’s a difference between sharing ideas and offering advice.

Feel free to ask if you can share an idea and if the answer is yes, put the idea out there and the breastfeeding person can decide whether to grab on to it or not.

Giving advice, no matter how well-intentioned, brings with it the sense that you don’t think the parent knows what they are doing and that you know better.

If you are asked for advice then clearly that’s different but still, be careful to frame it in a non-judgemental way that encourages the parent to trust themselves.

To wrap up
I thought there were some super useful and very practical ideas in this episode but I’d love to hear yours!

How have you supported a breastfeeding parent?

As someone who breastfed what was the most helpful thing someone said or did for you? What do you wish someone had done to support you?

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time!

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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