I won’t lie- breastfeeding wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I definitely faced a learning curve and it took me almost 6 full weeks before I felt confident and comfortable nursing my son. Some moms take to breastfeeding almost instantly while others struggle to nurse their new baby. If you have a new mom in your life that may be having a hard time breastfeeding, here are a few tips how you can support them.
Find them a lactation consultant
I truly believe that because I met with a lactation consultant during my son’s first week I was able to successfully breastfeed my son for over a year. This was outside of those LC that I met with in the hospital for a few minutes at a time – those were helpful, sure, but the lactation consultant I met with privately gave me two hours of her time to ensure I was breastfeeding my son correctly. Even if things are going well, I still think all new moms should meet with a certified lactation consultant. Ask around to other moms in your area if they know of or have worked with a LC before to recommend to your friend. And there’s always this great resource for finding a local lactation consultant that’s associated with the International Lactation Consultant Association.
Bring them to a La Leche League Meeting
La Leche League is an international organization whose sole mission is to help mothers breastfeed through information, support, and guidance. If you put your address (or your friend’s address) into their search feature, you can locate the closest meeting. Bring your friend – and be her support – to the next meeting. At the very least, send her off with all of the information she needs to get there!
Bake them lactation cookies
As a newly nursing mom, your friend is likely starving! Most moms seem to agree – you thought you were hungry when pregnant, but it didn’t compare to breastfeeding hungry! Your friend’s body is burning through a lot of calories (an estimated 500 a day). By baking and bringing her lactation cookies, you are not only giving her something yummy to snack on, but showing your support for increasing her supply. There’s many recipes for lactation cookies found online, but the general consensus is that they contain brewer’s yeast and oatmeal – two ingredients that are recommended to increase milk supply. Here’s a recipe that I’ve tried and enjoyed myself from All Recipes.
Offer your help
Depending on your relationship and their needs, this could mean different things to different moms. For me, all I wanted was to take a hot shower. Others may want help staying on top of laundry. And even others may just want their baby – or even older kids – occupied so they can run to the store alone. Whatever your friend’s needs are, ask and offer! In the beginning, nursing can feel isolating – I felt glued to the couch for hours at a time. Nothing got done around the house and it was lonely at times! I really enjoyed the times I had visitors who offered such simple services to me, like holding my son so I could make myself lunch!
Bring them dinner
Along the same lines as offering your help, bringing them a meal is extremely helpful and supportive. As mentioned above, it can be difficult for some moms to get anything done outside of caring for their new baby. A hot meal – large enough for the family, plus leftovers as a bonus – is a great way to help a friend. I try to never visit a new mom without a few bags of food. Sometimes they have plenty, but often they are going through it quickly (remember that breastfeeding hunger?). Along the same lines, simply asking what they need from the grocery store and bringing it by is very helpful as well.