Posted by Stacy on December 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM
I know we have all heard the expression, "It takes a village." You may be wondering what this has to do with breastfeeding and a mother's success to breastfeeding, but from my experience as a birth educator and mother, it means everything to have others supporting you.
I recall when my daughter was first born and I found myself at home with her alone, I felt overwhelmed. You could say she was one of those fussy babies. I had to be with her constantly. Nothing in my home was accomplished. I found the most easiest of tasks the hardest to complete because I always had her with me. I had little time for eating, and forget showering.
However, I had some support that just happened to happen for me. I talked with my husband about not getting a shower and food. His first response was just let her sit in the bouncy while I showered, but he soon realized that at night or in the morning before he left for work, I was getting a shower. Also, he was amazing with water! I never realized that I would become so thirsty when nursing. So, before work, he would fill all my water bottles and set up some healthy snacks by the couch for me. He also started making me a sandwich to have for lunch. My good friend in Chicagoland came over to fold laundry for me and just to talk. Those two things just made me smile and helped me through those first few weeks and months as a new mother.
As a new mother, we have many emotions. Some new mothers will be happy and go with the flow while others find the journey into new motherhood a hard road. It is very important that when a new mother asks and seeks help and advice that she feels supported and nurtured. She should feel that if she is asking for help with her duties as a mother and partner that she feels supported and not judged.
I want to add too that new mothers do not just experience these feelings. All mothers have these feelings to some degree. Mothers who have their first, second, or whatever number baby will go through some change, and we as the village must come to her aid.
So, how do we as those support people offer help, advice, and nurturing?
When she calls you, just listen to her.
- Laugh with her about the mess
- Remind her it does get better
- Never judge her
- Brainstorm a plan for getting at home tasks complete and which tasks are the most important to complete
- Remind her to take some time to relax. If visitors are at the home, remind her to tell them to come another time so she can have some time to learn breastfeeding.
Bring meals and healthy snacks to her
- Set up meal circle for her. You could either collect meals or have the dropped by her home during the week. Ask when she would prefer meals to be dropped by and what allergies and food preferences her family has. Ask meal makers to make a double batch so mom has food for a few days.
- When you are going for a visit, stop by Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or your local health food store and pick up some healthy snacks.
- If you live with her, fill several water bottles for the day and put them around your home where she will be nursing.
- Make lunch for her before leaving for work.
- Put her healthy snacks around the house.
List of contacts
- Find her local La Leche League chapter and attend it with her if possible
- Go to the lactation consultant with her. Ask questions like how can you help with latching!
- Find local attachment parenting playgroups. Those mommas REALLY love breastfeeding!
- Contact her church for the mothers group. Go with her so she doesn't feel left out the first time.
Sleeping; deal with the changes
- Many families find varying sleeping arrangements during the initial breastfeeding relationship.
- The family bed is a great option, but please do it safely.
- Help her in the night with changing the diaper, getting fluids, and latching. It is hard the first few weeks.
- Give her time sleep in the morning before you head out to work. She needs a boost.
- If you are friend coming for a visit, hold the baby and give mom a chance for a nap.
Be on time
- Come home on a timely manner. She relies on the little break and the time to talk with you.
- And with this, be flexible on her and baby with time. If you are leaving somewhere, know that it will take twice as long to get ready. Do not get upset with her or baby when they stop just before heading out the day to nurse.
- Listen,Listen, Listen!!! Do not judge her ever.
- Tell her you love her.
- Admire her strength.
- Tell her she is doing a great job.
- Give her a massage.
- Smile at her and tell her again you LOVE her.
These are just a few ways we all can help. If you have a great idea on how to help a new mother or even an experienced mother who just had a baby, please share! Remember It takes a village.