Sunday, October 30, 2011

Support for Breastfeeding Mothers

When there’s a brand-new baby in the house, there are dozens of important tasks to be taken care of.    Making sure the baby is fed and safe, learning how to breastfeed, getting to know the baby’s sleeping habits, and keeping the rest of the family fed and clean are only the most basic items on the list.  Add frivolous ideas such as housekeeping or outings, and it’s very possible to become immediately overwhelmed.
What tends to fall by the wayside is the mother’s own care.  In many cases, that lack of necessary care can be one giant stumbling block in the path of a joyous first few months. 
Specifically, if a mother is trying to breastfeed, there are some pretty serious ways her body needs to be cared for in order for her to be able to feed her baby.  Some mothers may feel depleted and uncomfortable if their bodies aren’t being taken care of, leading to difficulty down the road.  If she’s not feeling well, she might encounter nursing problems which could lead to enough stress and discomfort that she’ll be less likely to either enjoy the experience or continue as long as she had planned.
But there are some simple ways to help a new mother get the rest and nutrition she needs in order to get her off to a good breastfeeding start.  And a good breastfeeding start is a solid platform from which she can step into feeling more confident in many other tasks of new-motherhood. 
Even though the very early days of breastfeeding can be fraught with enough anxiety to make any well-intentioned mother feel less-than hungry, it’s incredibly important to make nutrition a priority.  Some experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers get an extra 300 to 500 calories per day. While a woman’s body will still usually have an adequate milk supply even if she’s not eating properly, the lack of a healthy, varied diet can lead to a mom feeling run down and discouraged.  Even more so if she’s experiencing any sort of post-partum blues or depression.
Helping a new mother by providing her with plenty of healthy snacks and pre-made meals is wonderful, but it’s also important to make sure she’s actually consuming that food.  If you’re a frequent visitor or relative, encourage her to eat even if she’s not particularly interested.  Ply her with her favorites, and make sure she keeps a glass of water handy – she’s providing hydration both for herself and her baby.
Making sure a new mom is getting the rest she needs can be a little more tricky.  Any spare moment that could be used for sleep can also be used for a dozen other plans like bathing or cleaning.  But the more sleep a mom can fuel herself with, the better she’ll feel when confronted with breastfeeding challenges.  Visitors can offer to clean, play with older kids, or hold a fussy baby while mom rests.
In the very early days, help with breastfeeding is vital and comes in many forms, not just healthy food and rest.  When given either by an experienced friend or trusted lactation consultant, intimate advice regarding positioning and latch is incredibly valuable.  Lactation experts have a wealth of knowledge to help new moms feel confident and capable, and are very often passionate about providing their services. 
When a commitment to breastfeeding is supplemented with good nutrition, plenty of rest, and loving encouragement, both baby and mom are more likely to be off to a good start.


  1. Great Post Sarah! I was SO not prepared for how hungry I would be those first few weeks. I remember being up in the middle of the night nursing my son in the dark. I started to cry and my husband came in. "What can I do?" he asked. "Can you just shove a cookie in my mouth or something??" I answered. He sweetly obliged. And I worked super hard to get my fruits and veggies...which can be hard when you are eating SO often!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?