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Every family is different. And you know your family best. Educate those you are closest to and include them early so they can see how you and your baby are learning and bonding through breastfeeding. If you don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of certain family members, you may want to delay those visits until you feel more confident with breastfeeding.
Having support from your family will help you breastfeed successfully, bond with your baby, and meet your breastfeeding goals. But your family may not know exactly how to help. People closest to you should know how to help you as a new mom. Here are a few suggestions on how you can prepare them to be supportive.
After your child is born, the best way for a new dad to be supportive of your breastfeeding efforts is by being there for you. Having a partner or spouse who understands that you need to breastfeed on demand can make all the difference. When you're at home, dad's role could be to bring the baby to you at night for a feeding or change your baby's diaper after a feeding, both of which can help him bond with the baby. If you can, take a birthing, breastfeeding, and/or new parenting class together, either through the hospital, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, or other organizations. The more he understands about the benefits of breastfeeding, the more likely he will be able to support you and participate in the experience. (Learn about different birthing, breastfeeding, and parenting classes.)
Many new moms (and dads, grandparents, and close friends) are surprised at how often newborns need to eat. This is because a newborn's tummy is tiny. When you know what to expect, it's easier to handle. This will also help you teach your loved ones about how to support you, which is very important to do early on. Regardless of how they express their love or concern, your family wants the best for you. The better they understand the mom-baby connection that comes with breastfeeding, the more supportive they can be.
A breastfeeding mom needs a support network. Finding a breastfeeding support group and turning to family members who support your decision to breastfeed will help you continue when challenges arise. You can also find a local La Leche League or talk with a WIC peer counselor. Also, ask the health educator at the hospital you deliver in to provide information for local support groups, mom groups, and more. Share breastfeeding information, videos, and pamphlets with your support team so they can understand and respect your breastfeeding goals.
Whether you have older children or younger siblings, kids are usually curious about the new baby. There is nothing inappropriate about breastfeeding in front of older children, so long as you feel comfortable with it. If they ask what you're doing, you can answer them by telling them you're simply feeding the baby so he or she grows healthy and strong. If the child is old enough to follow directions, maybe his or her job could be to get you a glass of water when you breastfeed or grab you a snack from the kitchen.
Content last updated: January 20, 2013.