When I teach my prenatal breastfeeding classes, I often rate my success as a teacher by how well I am perceived by the significant other who attends the class with the pregnant mom. If a dad comes up to me and thanks me for the great class, I know that I have done my job. You see, if the pregnant mom signed up for the prenatal breastfeeding class, she has already made up her mind that she plans to breastfeed her child(ren). The significant other usually attends the class to show his/her support for the pregnant soon-to-be mom. This support is absolutely imperative in the mom's success to reach her breastfeeding goals. A mom needs her cheerleaders….significant others, friends, family members, yahoo-group friends, etc. …. to help her feel successful as a mother. Motherhood if challenging, especially the first time around; which is why we need our cheerleaders. If breastfeeding poses some challenges, it is this cheerleader who can either provide support and build confidence or slowly begin to offer that the mom give up.
This is why my prenatal breastfeeding class focuses more on creating support systems than positioning and latch. Lactation consultants can help to fix positioning and latch, but the cheerleaders are the ones who give the mom strength to meet her personal breastfeeding goals. It is the cheerleader who brings the mom water during the night and makes sure she eats enough healthy food throughout the day. It is the cheerleader who rubs mom's back and massages her shoulders as she feeds her baby 8 or more times in a 24 hr. period for the first few months of life. Again, it is the cheerleader who makes all the difference.
Wondering how to be the best cheerleader for a new mom? Here's your list to follow:
- Before breastfeeding challenges arise, have a list of lactation consultants, La Leche League leaders, and breastfeeding support groups that you can contact to get help, if needed.
- Breastfeeding a baby can take up a large portion of the day and night. Offer to help make dinner and take care of the home so mom can focus on getting breastfeeding off to a great start.
- Find your own special ways to bond with the baby: snuggle after feedings to help the baby's milk digest more easily, hold the baby skin-to-skin, sing to the baby….these are just a few.
- Discuss with mom what her breastfeeding goals are and do everything you can to support her and these goals.
- Be proud to be a cheerleader! You role is irreplaceable!