Supporting the Breastfeeding Relationship

Breastfeeding activists know all about the many benefits that go along with breastfeeding. Those who are passionate about breastfeeding are often quick to share their knowledge, opinions, support, and advice…whether it is wanted or not. When talking to others(whether they are breastfeeding or not) often this unsolicited information that is intended as support can come across as rather judgmental. Support delivered in this manner is often not supportive or helpful at all. So what can we all do to provide real support to new mothers?
Listen without Judgement- All people have a hard time listening if they do not feel that they have been heard. Think back to being a new mother, what a new mom needs is someone to be there to listen without judging. After being able to talk through her emotions she will most likely feel more equipped to persevere through her current challenge!
Validate and Accept Her Reality – Being a new mom is hard and breastfeeding is hard. Accept and validate whatever the mother is feeling. If, for example, a new mom tells you that she is not making enough milk, do not jump to the conclusion that she has been receiving bad advice. Acknowledge how frustrated she must be and how hard it would be to not know if your baby is getting enough nourishment.
Empower Her – Help her to trust her gut and her instincts. When she asks you a question about breastfeeding, try asking her what she thinks. What does her gut tell her? Never underestimate a mothers instincts, it is tuning into them that is the hard part.
Offer Support and Information, not Advice – There is a big difference between “you should feed your baby more often” and “breastfeeding is a process of supply and demand and usually the more a mother feeds her baby, the more milk she will make”. One of these statements is a judgement and one offers evidence based information.
Most new moms in our country need so much more support then they are receiving, but what they don’t need is judgement and criticism. Were there people in your life that were extremely valuable to the success of your breastfeeding relationship? How did they support you?