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The Importance of Supporting a Breastfeeding Mom

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I attend my local La Leche meetings every month, as long as neither of my kids are sick. Even in the two months before baby number 2 was born and baby number 1 had stopped nursing, I continued to go because I wanted to offer my help to new moms, and be around the old pros to learn what I could. At my most recent meeting, there was a first time mom with a one month old. She had not been to a meeting before, so none of us knew her. She was nursing her one month old son.

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And she sobbed.

She sobbed like I’ve never seen anyone at our meeting cry before. Not because she was in pain, or because the baby was sick, but she wept because when her baby was fussy at her breast or cried, her mother would tell her she must have no milk, and fix a bottle of formula for the baby. She just needed support and reassurance from the person she trusted most, her mother, and because she didn’t get it, she was hurting. Badly.

And perhaps it is because I am one month post-partum, or perhaps it is because I could feel her need for love and support through her breastfeeding journey and all the need of other mothers who give up because no-one helps them, that I wept too.

I’m not here to say formula is bad. I’m not here to say formula isn’t needed. I’m not here to say all mothers can breastfeed. I am not here to judge. So please stop the easy task of putting me in a box labelled “formula-haters.”

I am simply here to say, on behalf of this young mother, and all the mothers out there that nurse, whether it’s their first or fifth baby-

We need YOUR support.

We need your kind words, your encouraging words, your words of love and support.

We do not need to hear that if the baby is crying, it must be lack of milk. We do not need to hear that if baby doesn’t sleep for five hours straight, it must be because of the mother’s milk. We do not need to hear that because our breasts look light or small that there is no milk. Because these are all completely untrue, and if you need to be educated on such matters, I would suggest you visit your local La Leche meeting (dads, grandparents, cousins, everyone is welcome!) or visit the Kelly Mom website. If you don’t know facts, please don’t guess.

Be proud of your daughter, wife, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and encourage them in any way you can.They are doing a beautiful and, at times, not-so-easy thing, and you could be the person whose words encourage them to keep going. Your support may be exactly what they need to get them through a difficult growth spurt period.

Don’t want to talk about it? No problem, fix them a glass of water or some snacks, because nursing a baby makes you seriously hungry. Take care of the baby while she showers. Don’t want to see it? No problem, go order take out. Do the laundry. Clean up her home. Is mom having problems? Don’t assume you have the answer, find your nearest IBLCE certified lactation consultant or a local La Leche leader. Call someone who knows what they’re talking about. But please don’t make any unnecessary comments like something is wrong with their body, or with their mothering instinct, because they are giving their child the best thing for their health, their growth, their overall development. This should make you proud.

On behalf of all nursing mothers, I ask that you support us. Because the number one reason why women give up nursing is due to lack of support. And in the 21st century, that is just sad.

Let’s start to change it. Go tell that nursing mom in your life what a wonderful job she’s doing.

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