I remember how exciting it was for my husband and me when we had our first newborn! However, I also recall feeling overwhelmed by the exhaustion, breastfeeding challenges, caring for the baby and household chores! Breastfeeding and bonding with my baby were so important to me – but how could I do it all??
ENTER: my mom!
Grandmas (or another family member) can be a huge help. They can lower the stress by allowing you and your baby to spend plenty of time together, and by being supportive and encouraging with breastfeeding. On the other hand, you may feel that your mom/mother-in-law breastfed so long ago or didn’t breastfeed at all, so how could she be a support? Her beliefs and experiences may be very different. My mom had limited breastfeeding experience with my sister and me. But, whether or not grandma has experience with, or knowledge of breastfeeding, she can be an important influence in the success of breastfeeding and in building your confidence.
If you’d like your mother/mother-in-law to be your breastfeeding advocate, help her out by discussing these 7 tips. Chat with her about this before you’ve had the baby. It’s important to share what you feel would be most helpful to you ….
- Help her to understand why you value breastfeeding: Talk to her about why breastfeeding is important to you. Include grandma in conversations about breastfeeding practices and provide her with reputable resources such as Breastfeeding Matters and halton.ca to expand her knowledge and ultimately, her support of breastfeeding.
- Share your goals: Let grandma know how long you’d like to breastfeed. This will help her to understand your intentions and your commitment to breastfeeding.
- Ask for loving encouragement: A listening ear and the words, “I’m proud of you” can go a long way. Let her know that there will be benefits for you and your baby that will last a lifetime. If breastfeeding is what you want to do, then ask her for 100% support despite any challenges you may encounter.
- Ask grandma to help limit guests: She can encourage you to rest and concentrate on breastfeeding in the early days after delivery.
- Invite her to accompany you: Ask her to come along when you go for breastfeeding support (if your partner can’t go). She can help you to remember the information you are given and help once you get home.
- She can help with the baby: Have grandma cuddle the baby while you shower, eat a meal, or get some much-needed sleep. If you are comfortable with it, have grandma change baby’s diaper and bring her to you for breastfeeding.
- Accept offers to help with household chores: She could prepare meals, grocery shop, do dishes, wash and fold laundry, clean the house, or take care of older siblings giving them attention and praise and lots of hugs and kisses. This will free up time for you to focus on breastfeeding and bonding with your newborn.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and then along with solids, breastfeeding should continue to two years old or longer. There are many local breastfeeding supports available in Halton. Keep this information handy for any challenges you might experience.
Despite my mother’s limited personal experience with breastfeeding, she turned out to be a phenomenal support to me as I breastfed my children. And, as a bonus, it helped to create a strong bond between her and my children.
How has your mother or mother-in-law (or anyone else in your life) positively affected your breastfeeding experience? Share with us!
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.