How Family Members Can Support the Breastfeeding Mother

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

- Assure her that her milk is the best food for the baby.

- Help her to be comfortable while nursing. Bring her pillows, or a footstool, rub her shoulders and/or feet, play soft music if she asks.

- Prepare her a snack and something to drink while she nurses.

- Do not assume that every passing of gas or crying bout is related to the mother's milk. This creates a great deal of stress for the mother and also is not accurate.

- Offer your hands and eyes: help her to make sure that the baby has a wide-open mouth to ensure proper latch, help her watch for swallows. With multiples, this is even more important.

- Encourage her to put the baby to the breast on cue. Remember that crying is a late cue for feeding.

- Encourage her to watch the baby, rather than the clock; both parents will get to know the baby better this way.

- Develop skills for nurturing and soothing the baby, such as wearing the baby in a sling or skin-to-skin. This way the mother (and the breast) won't be the only source of comfort.

- Be patient. Remind her that she and the baby have never done this together before. It often takes several weeks before the breastfeeding couple has all the kinks worked out.

- Ask for help when you need it. Sometimes it takes an expert with thousands of hours of experience (a lactation professional) only a few minutes to fix a problem that's plagued you for days or weeks. That's why they're there for.

Adapted from Nurturing the Family: The Guide for Postpartum Doulas

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