Practical information about supporting a mum when breastfeeding does not work out
1. Acknowledge your own feelings- you can do this just to yourself or if you think it will support her you can share what you are feeling with her. For example; "I want to be there for you but I just don't know what to say or do"
2. Listen, listen, and then listen some more. Listen to the mum to understand, empathise and acknowledge. Be compassionate.
3. Acknowledge and validate what she is feeling for example: "It is normal to feel sad when you have lost this breastfeeding relationship when it was so important to you"
4. Support her to deal with the crisis- often women end breastfeeding to end the crisis. Encourage, support and remind her of her basic self care at this time. Prepare a nutritious meal, go for a walk with her, help entertain older children, tidy her house, hang out washing, encourage her to have positive bonding time with baby in times where it isn't focused on feeding etc
5. Ask the mum if she needs support to continue breastfeeding or support to end breastfeeding
6. Acknowledge, respect and accept her decision. This is her decision to make and one she is unlikely to have made lightly, avoid pressuring her.
7. When the mum needs support to end breastfeeding you will need to shift gears from breastfeeding advice and support to support, empathy and practical information for bottle feeding.
8.Equally important don't tell her you think she should give up, when breastfeeding starts getting challenging but she wants the support to continue trying other avenues for breast feeding!
9.Let her know what you see her strengths are, acknowledge all her efforts and how very hard it has been for her. Tell her about the ways she is a great mum and a wonderful woman.
© Karen Holmes 2012