Breastfeeding is an intimate relationship, rather than a skill to be learned. While mother and baby are getting to know each other and forming their intimate bond – lactation consultants can guide family members to also play a supportive role in breastfeeding success.
Family members express their love and support in many ways – some expressions of love are supportive of breastfeeding and some less so. Grandma that encourages the mother to get some rest and send the infant to the nursery is doing so out of love without realizing the potential negative impact the separation may cause on the breastfeeding relationship. Or, brother that mentions his own practice of initiating solids early to improve sleep may inadvertently cause a diminished milk supply before baby is ready to wean.
Lactation consultants can encourage new mothers (and their families if possible) to agree on feeding goals. What is the breastfeeding goal for mother and baby? 6 months? One year? IBCLCs can also educate the family during the hospital stay about the normal behaviors of infants, the expected frequency of feeding, the sleep patters of newborns and the cues infants send when they are hungry. Working the education into the conversation as mother and LC visit during the hospital stay will support the breastfeeding dyad.
As always with this monthly blog entry, we have identified several YouTube videos available to assist the LC or the breastfeeding mother in defining family support.
Baby Gooroo offers this great, short visual about fathers and their important role in supporting the breastfeeding dyad- How Can Dad Help?
WomenseNews has a great video called “A Father’s Side of Breastfeeding.” This video is targeted for African-American mothers and fathers to address the statistic of lower incidence of breastfeeding in the African-American population. Appropriate for all audiences – excellent points, personable presenters and accurate information.
Please send additional videos you are using to encourage family support of breastfeeding to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to feature them on our blog!
Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC Co-Owner Lactation Navigation – Workplace Lactation Consultants, LLC