How to support new mothers to breastfeed  their babies

Breastfeeding is a very important activity in the life of a newborn baby. The breast milk protects the baby from infections and diseases and the breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancers as well as improves mother and baby bond. Additionally, breast milk is free, easily accessible and almost available.

However, although almost all new mothers can breastfeed, not all of them do so exclusively for 6 months or even do it at all. Some reasons mothers who do not breastfeed commonly cite include not being comfortable with breastfeeding, being afraid of sagging breasts, and a perception that infant formula food is the same as breast milk. Recently also, some women think people disapprove of breastfeeding in public and it is no longer as popular as it used to be.

Considering the importance of breast milk to a baby, new mothers must be supported and given the right information so that they follow the recommendation; breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and continue to breastfeed along with complementary feeding up to  2 years or more of the baby’s life.

How fathers can support a new mother

As the father you can;

  1. Help with house chores to reduce the amount of stress on the mother so she can produce enough milk to feed the baby. Also make sure you encourage her to get enough rest.
  2. Help take care of the baby by burping the baby after breastfeeding, bathing the baby, and changing diapers.
  3. Offer to take the mother to antenatal visits and talk with her health professional to know the right information regarding breastfeeding. Always ask about any additional support you can provide for the mother.
  4. Take paternity leave where applicable or plan your leave o coincide with her time of delivery.

How family and friends can support a new mother

  1. As family and friends you can help with house chores, shopping for groceries, cooking and taking care of other children she might have.
  2. You can also provide her with both emotional and social support by listening to her and encouraging her.

How Colleagues and Employees can support a new mother

  1. Good nutrition is critical at this stage and colleagues can encourage new mothers to eat well and stay active. Colleagues can do this by reminding new mothers to eat, offering to get them breakfast and/or lunch among others.
  2. If your colleague is a new mother, you need to understand balancing work and breastfeeding can be hard on her. Kindly encourage her in any way you can, for example, encouraging her not to stay after working hours, encouraging her to take time off to express and store the breast milk whiles at work etc.
  3. Managers or employers can be really helpful if they provide new mothers with enough maternity leave, at least 6 months to ensure that new mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for 6 months.
  4. Managers and employers can also make the workplace more comfortable by allowing breaks and space (comfortable room) for the new mother to breastfeed or express and store the breast milk.
  5. Managers and employers can also let new mothers know they do understand that balancing work and breastfeeding can be hard on new mothers and ready to discuss ways they can support them to balance it.

Right Information- Simple truths about breastfeeding

Getting the right information will boost new mothers’ confidence to breastfeed.

  1. It is normal for new mothers to feel uncomfortable as this is a new experience. This can be overcome by ensuring that new mothers have skin-to-skin contact with their babies right after birth to establish bonding. It is also important for new mothers to feed the baby with the first milk known as colostrum within the first hour of birth. This will prepare both mother and baby for breastfeeding. Other lifestyle changes like eating healthily, drinking enough water, resting, avoiding alcohol, and smoking, all enable new mothers to produce enough nutritious milk.
  2. Breastfeeding does not cause the breast to sag. It is ageing and changes in body weight that cause this effect.
  3. Infant formula is not the same as breast milk. Breast milk is natural and contains antibodies, enzymes, hormones that protect the baby from diseases and infections, even in later life. Infant formula does not contain these antibodies.
  4. It has been shown that people do not actually mind women breastfeeding in public and most women do breastfeed.
  5. One can still breastfeed and have sex without any consequences.

Let’s support new mothers to breastfeed their babies to ensure a healthier and better future for children.

Related articles: Oral hygiene in pregnancy, Good nutrition for women especially before, during and after pregnancy

Last page review: 22/03/2016
Next page review: 22/03/2018

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