Women supporting women. It’s a beautiful thing to see in any context, but especially when it comes to motherhood, which often feels fraught from the start. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, how to handle career post-kids – every choice a mother makes is highly personal, and for some inexplicable reason, hotly debated by everyone and (ahem!) their mother.
The reality of breastfeeding can be far from the beautiful experience a woman may have envisioned during pregnancy. Not only does breastfeeding look different for every mom, but sometimes the same mom’s experience varies from one baby to the next. Some infants latch easily while others don’t take to the breast; some moms experience so much pain that they pump exclusively. Still others experience issues that warrant supplementation, while others wrestle with overabundance of supply.
In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we’re dedicating this post to nursing mamas everywhere. Here’s how to foster inclusiveness and embrace the breastfeeding mom in your life — whether she’s nursing, pumping, supplementing, cluster feeding, or some combination of the above.
DO: Offer genuine words of encouragement – all any mother wants to hear is that she’s doing a good job
DON’T: Share your opinion on when she should stop breastfeeding – that decision is based on many factors unbeknownst to you
DO: Bring lactation cookies and bars that help with milk production, if you know she has low supply (and leave them within easy, one-handed reach!)
DON’T: Share stories of how easy and effortless breastfeeding was for you, especially if you know she’s struggling
DO: Embrace the idea that “Fed is best” and let her know you support her feeding choices 100%, whatever they may be
DON’T: Chastise her for supplementing with formula or rattle off reasons why you believe breastmilk might be better
DO: Help keep older children occupied and engaged if you visit during a nursing session
DON’T: Leave her alone, unless she asks for privacy; she might be craving your company and happy to have you around
DO: Drop off a casserole or other homemade meal that she can easily pop in the oven for dinner
DON’T: Scold her for pumping — or using bottles for pumped breastmilk
DO: Wash and sterilize bottles and pump parts for her while she breastfeeds
DON’T: Stay silent if you hear a derogatory comment about breastfeeding – no mom shaming allowed!
DO: Offer to hold the baby so she can pump, take a nap, or wash her hair
DON’T: Mention all the extra milk you may have (or had) in your fridge or freezer, if you’re a fellow pumping mom
DO: Be a hydration helper — bring her a fun reusable water bottle with a straw, so she can hydrate easily during feeds
DON’T: Correct her breastfeeding position or offer alternatives – what worked for you won’t necessarily work for her
DO: Be an advocate for nursing moms everywhere
DON’T: Forget to treat her with compassion and kindness above all
Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month! Cheers to mamas everywhere – you’re ALL doing great.