How To Show Your Support Of Breastfeeding (even if you’ve never done it yourself)0
In my circle of friends there is a lot of baby birthing going on… which means my love of breastfeeding support is coming through big time. While I no longer breastfeed, my passion for breastfeeding has not waned. Instead, in my role as a Labour & Delivery nurse I’ve become even more educated about breastfeeding, leading me to feel even stronger about supporting mothers and their breastfeeding experience.
Recently I was at a breastfeeding course and the Lactation Consultant talked to us about how we can be supportive with breastfeeding. This should be simple since we were choosing to attend the three day course, right? The twist was: how do we encourage the average every day person to give the support that breastfeeding support requires?
So, how can you show your support for all those breastfed babies out there?
1. Ensure that your soiree is a breastfeeding friendly party
When hosting any type of get together make sure to let the nursing mums in your life know that their baby is welcome, too! The mum and baby are a nursing team that shouldn’t be split apart. While you might just think, “sheesh! Can’t she just pump before she comes over?”. Pumping isn’t always an appropriate action for all mums and babies as it can mess up the whole supply and demand system that makes for a good breastfeeding team.
Word your invite something like this, ‘ Adults only, but breastfed babies are welcomed‘. Being direct like this helps support your tired friend who might choose not to come to your event because of feeling weary about the breastfeeding factor.
In other good news, wording your invite like this also gets you out of fretting whether there will be a surprise bunch of children crashing your event.
2. Be a friend
Maybe you’ve decided that having children is not your thing, so while breastfeeding may not directly effect you, you can still be an advocate. Do you remember that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda was learning to breastfeed her baby? Carrie comes over and has a little freak out when she sees her girlfriend struggling to latch on her baby, so she high tails it out the door with a freaked out expression. This is a classic example of what not to do. Hang out with your nursing friends and help them to feel comfortable about nursing while out and about. Be confident that your actions are a positive act of friendship.
3. Be a cheerleader
I will never forget the friend who came over and helped me figure out the whole latching business when Ben was freshly born. Her patience and knowledge empowered me so much and because of this interaction, my experience was so positive. It didn’t hurt that she was a friend that happened to be a Lactation Consultant!
Right now I have a girlfriend who is expecting her first baby this Spring and she’s planning to breastfeed. I’ve already told her that I’ll be around and available to be her support person with breastfeeding, even if that includes dropping by at midnight in those first few days. Success with breastfeeding is a lot about the support you have around you, so by making yourself available to be a support person, you are promoting breastfeeding.
4. Generational love can go a long way
Back in the day, babies and bottles were the way to feeds babies and breastfeeding wasn’t encouraged or supported. There was a lack of knowledge about breastmilk and so formula companies boomed. Women who actually did breastfeed were often left to figure it out on their own.
This leaves generations of men and women who were not exposed to their mother’s breastfeeding and may not be up on the current knowledge about why breastmilk is truly best. I’m sure you all have stories about grandparents being flabbergasted with your choice to breastfeed or being shocked when you continued to breastfeed your child at 12 months.
Over the years we have learned that nothing compares to the properties found in human milk. We’ve learned that human milk is the best choice for growing little human beings, and I support that.
Even if you chose to formula feed your babies, you can still promote breastfeeding right now. In fact, times have changed so much that normal term breastfeeding is considered to be two years and beyond. This is recommended and supported by the World Health Organization and applies to all mums and babes no matter where they live in the world. Knowing this now leaves me feeling a bit sad about my own decision to stop nursing at 12 months.
I was misinformed and thought that term breastfeeding was actually one year. I felt pretty proud that I exclusively breastfed for the first year of my son’s life, but now with further education, I realize I cut things short. I think a lot of my own peer group have this same belief and I’m pretty sure I’d have been a little bit judged if I had actually breastfed my son full term.
5. Be mindful when giving baby gifts
A few years ago a girlfriend of mine had a baby shower and I nicely packaged up some fancy bottles along with a bottle warmer from a hip name brand. In my head I thought I was being so thoughtful and fashionable with these baby gifts. I didn’t realize that giving bottles or soothers as baby presents, is really a big faux pas in supporting breastfeeding. Unless there are special circumstances, like adoption, these baby gifts are more of a big booby trap for a friend. Be mindful about what message you are giving and buy some fancy nipple butter or high-end nursing pads instead.
Lovely skin to skin images of newborns breastfeeding on their first day of life. Photos compliments of my photographer husband.
Do you have a blog with a fantastic post on breastfeeding? Leave me a comment with a link to the post and I’ll post your link here.