Fathers, partners, family and friends – your support matters!
We can all help support parents as they adapt to their new roles, helping around the house, cooking meals, caring for older children, as well as emotional support, kind words and encouragement so that new parents can focus on caring for their new baby.
Closeness with their parents is really important for a new baby, secure attachment to their parents helps baby’s emotional well-being and brain development. Skin contact helps calm and soothe baby and mother, helps milk supply, encourages babies feeding behaviours and stabilises baby’s breathing, heart rate and temperature.
A mother’s breast milk is unique to her own baby and is the only food a baby needs for the first 6 months. Breast milk is a living fluid which contains antibodies and other immune factors which help to keep a baby healthy and protect them from infection. Breastmilk increases the baby’s resistance to infection and disease and the health benefits can continue into adult life.
Mothers often need time and support as they learn to breastfeed, and there are lots of ways that you can show how much you appreciate what she is doing for baby.
Breastmilk is easily digested, so breastfed babies need feeding whenever they show signs of hunger, or whenever mum wants or needs to feed. This may be very frequently in the early weeks. All babies are individual and a mother’s body adjusts the amount of milk she makes so that the supply meets what her growing baby needs. Every time the baby feeds it stimulates the milk supply for the next feed.
However babies are fed, supporting baby’s mother will benefit baby. She’s recovering from pregnancy, labour and birth, along with learning to feed and care for her baby.
What about routines?
In the first few months rigid feeding routines are not helpful to breastfeeding and can be the cause of many new mums giving up. Night time feeds are a very important part of establishing a good supply of breast milk, so we encourage mums to keep their babies with them all the time. Lots of cuddles help to stimulate milk production, and make babies feel secure. Babies cannot be “spoiled” with too many cuddles.
Mum is making a vital investment in baby’s future, so offer your listening ear, support her decision, encourage her if she appears to be struggling, and offer practical help cooking and housework etc.
Remind her of the local support groups or to ask her midwife or health visitor if she has any concerns.
Let her know how proud you are of her.