HAVING THE TALK: THE ROLE OF FAMILY IN BREASTFEEDING
Why is it that some women choose to breastfeed, while other opt for formula? A family’s role in the care and nurture of a baby can play a big part in that decision. Dr Preeti Gangan explains the importance of a family’s support and encouragement when it c
Importance of the support from your loved ones
Motherhood is a bumpy ride, no matter what way you look at it. Post-partum psychosis and depression exerts a lot of pressure on mothers and this increases the stress level impacting health. Many mothers get agitated and are unable to handle this change, blaming it on this postpartum depression. Exhaustion, lack of maternity leave and affordable or accessible maternal care, and preoccupation with the demands of the child cover women in a heavy blanket of responsibility that is often difficult to escape.
They juggle between household chores, official work, preparing meals, baby sitting and other unpredictabilities, diminishing their will to breastfeed, forcing them to adopt formula. However, the lack of knowledge on the benefits of breastfeeding, family support and poor skills of time management, contribute to their choice to feed their child formula over breastmilk. Even if the hospital recommends formula, a family’s support can help a new mother take the breastfeeding decision. A mother should be encouraged to discuss with whoever they’re comfortable with, their desires and plans to breastfeed. Her partner and the baby’s grandparents also play critical support roles when it comes to breastfeeding, both with regard to assisting in decision making about how the baby is fed, as well as in creating a supportive and encouraging environment for a mother to breastfeed, after the baby is born. Making motherhood an art Families can help a new mother master the art of motherhood and also inspire her to continue with her career. Here are certain tips for families to help mothers get through those early weeks with a new baby.
AVOIDING COMPARISONS: A lot of new mothers draw comparisons with other new mums and their lifestyles. This attitude decreases their confidence and creates doubts on their own ability to effectively breastfeed. Each nursing relationship is unique and is subject to conditions which every mother will exclusively face, and hence the resulting outcome will also either be positive or negative. What a family must remember is to help a nursing mum relax, breathe and breastfeed!
BUILDING TRUST IN YOURSELF: The journey to motherhood is quite a challenge and not everybody passes with flying colours. At times, when mothers try to nurse, they’re faced with issues like poor milk supply and latching problems, discouraging them in their endeavours to breastfeed. This is exactly when her family needs to step in and encourage her to keep trying. Help her understand that every new mum will take their own time, and find their own way around the problem. Perhaps, sharing their own experiences and struggles of motherhood can help a new mum cope, and understand that it takes six to eight weeks to adjust to breastfeeding. LINE UP BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: There should be someone who is always close to the mother, be it her partner, her mother-in-law, her mother or a close friend. While there are a few first-time mothers that get the hang of breastfeeding almost immediately, most first-time moms will face a few difficulties when first trying to nurse. She’s going to need someone to encourage and support her through this rough phase, and also have the presence of mind to line up breastfeeding support ahead of time. Scheduling a visit with a lactation consultant to speak about breastfeeding challenges and seek advices on breastfeeding works best. Installing breastfeeding applications and making her join breastfeeding support groups on social media can also help.
KEEP HER WELL HYDRATED: Feeding a newborn is difficult as a mother has to always be prepared to meet the baby’s demands. This constant feeding pattern often leaves her exhausted. This means, while she cares for the baby, she requires someone to constantly care for her, and ensure her nutritional needs are met. And while maintaining a healthy diet is a must, someone must ensure that she drinks a lot of water in between her breaks of breastfeeding.
HOLD THE BABY: For every first-time mum, holding her bundle of joy immediately after giving birth,
is a long-stading tradition. It’s easier since she’s already in bed, and all she has to do is hold the baby to her breast. However, back home when everyone is eager to hold the baby, it becomes imperative that a new mother should spend the baby’s waking moments holding her baby. The fact remains, skin to skin contact is important for both the mother and baby as this helps create a lasting bond.
PUMPING IS A SOLUTION: Once a mother has to resume her professional life, whether after three months or the standard six months, she may or may not be inclined to weaning her baby just yet. This is where the family can support her decision, no matter what it is. Moreover, if a mother would like to continue breastfeeding, pumping is definitely a solution. Mothers can pump and store milk in a refrigerator. Later her partner, relatives or even the nanny, can reheat the milk to feed the baby. Having a healthy support system will enable and encourage mothers to give their children the best possible nourishment and care, even when they’re not around.
HELP IN OTHER WAYS: The first six months of a baby’s life are the most crucial. It’s the best time for a mother to bond with her child. This means, she must spend as much time as possible for exclusive bonding. This also means spending less time on household chores, and more with nurturing her little one. This is when the family needs to step in and take care of the chores that she’d otherwise take care of. While every mother-child relationship is unique, the one thing that helps strengthen this relationship is the unrelenting love and support of her family and friends. It is very important that the mother is able to relax, rest and spend as much undistracted time as possible, feeding her baby. It’s her family’s love and warmth that helps her achieve this goal.
Dr Preeti Gangan is a member of Medela LC Club. She is an M.B.B.S, D.C.H, IBCLCcertified, paediatrician and lactation consultant at Cheers Child Care.