Supporting a Mom Who is Experiencing Breastfeeding Challenges
This post is part 2 of "What Women Wish They Had Been Told But Did Not Hear".
Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say to a new mother who is having a difficult time establishing breastfeeding. Emotions are high and exhaustion is never ending. Here are some specific suggestions for what to say to support a new mother:
I understand why this is so upsetting and I’m sorry you are going through this.
You are a good mother and you are doing what is best for your baby.
I support you and your choices.
I’m here to help you in whatever way you need me to help.
What you are struggling with right now is not a reflection of you as a mother.
You are a good mother.
You are not a failure and are not failing.
How can I help you?
"I just wanted someone other than my husband to tell me I'd made the right choice to exclusively pump."
While moral support is extremely important for a woman who is experiencing difficulties breastfeeding, concrete information and support is vital:
Offer to find a qualified lactation consultant or to contact the local La Leche League organization. Be with her when she sees the lactation consultant to be an extra set of ears and ask questions. Sometimes a new mom is so overwhelmed she may not hear things or remember things and you also may be able to offer your own perspective of what you are seeing in the baby’s behaviour.
Search for information online or in the library that may be helpful.
Go and rent a hospital grade breast pump if the baby is not feeding well and a pump is necessary to establish and maintain her milk supply.
Take care of as much as possible within the household to allow mom to focus on the needs of her new baby.
Purchase anything needed that may assist with breastfeeding or pumping: breastfeeding pillow, stool, comfortable chair, bedside sleeper or bassinet, nursing bra/pumping bra, etc.
While you may not truly understand the emotional impact breastfeeding can have, and the even larger impact not being able to breastfeed can have, do understand that the new mother is likely overwhelmed with emotions and needs to have her feelings validated. Telling her it really isn’t a big deal or that she can "just feed formula" disregards her feelings and makes it even more difficult to cope with the changes she is experiencing.