Top Ten Things to say to encourage a nursing mother

It’s Time for another List!! Part of me is thinking about making Thursday my “List Day.” My post about breastfeeding this week kind of got me thinking about some of the other “booby-traps” that moms run into, and negative comments tend to be right up there. Honestly, I think it’s because people just don’t know what to say to a nursing mom. Here’s an idea: Just talk to her like you would any other mom. The fact that she is nourishing her child with breastmilk shouldn’t sway your conversation (and that applies if she is nursing right next to you or just nursing in general.)

Top Ten Things to Say to Encourage a Nursing (or Any) Mother

10. You are doing great!

9. What can I do to help you out right now?

8. Can I make you dinner tonight?

7. Would you like a glass of water?

6. You been nursing for (2 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 months, 3 years)? Congratulations!

5. Nurse where ever or how ever you are most comfortable.

4. Your baby looks very happy/content.

3. Any amount of breastmilk your baby receives is fantastic for his health.

2. Formula and Breastmilk can work together, it doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing.’

1. I am here if you need me, even if it’s just to listen.

I know that it sounds kind of counter-intuitive, coming from a self-professed “lactivist,” but I have really been thinking about why I began breastfeeding and why I wanted to help other mother’s breastfeed. I believe that breastmilk is superior to formula but I am also a realist knowing that not all moms will make the choice to stay home with their children (or that it is financially feasible.) So if I mom decides that pumping her milk for while she is away is too much of a hassle and would rather use formula when she is away, that is what works best for their family.

But there is the flip-side, I do believe that more should be done to remove some of the barriers that impede the efforts of nursing mothers. I mean, you figure if a mom wants to nurse her child exclusively for 9 months and goes back to work when the baby is 3 months old, she’s requiring time to pump for 6 months. When that comes up, all of a sudden there are calls about how it’s not fair that this mom has to have:

1.) time to pump

2.) a private location to pump that’s not her car

3.) storage for the milk (optional)

I think back to when I was working (before teaching) and our workplace was smoke-free, when the smokers could go out willy-nilly to have a “smoke-break” in addition to their mandated breaks. Did I think that it was fair that me, as a non-smoker, didn’t have that luxury? No, I didn’t think that it was fair, but to be honest, I was happy that I wasn’t saddled with a nicotine addiction, so it was a wash. But we have to remember, fair does not mean equal.  When I was teaching, I used an easy way to illustrate this: Is it fair that I have to wear glasses while my BFF has perfect vision? No. Should I stop correcting my vision or should she wear corrective lenses so we are equal? No.

When my DDs were little, they both wore a cheeky one-sie that we bought in Chicago. It read:

” Thank You for not giving my parents unsolicited advice.”

I think new parents are so bombarded with advice, that they forget to follow their God-given instinct. Mothering is hard enough as it is and we make it harder by always wanting to either out-do each other by being the “better mother” or by thinking that somehow we are doing something wrong because we are not following the latest expert advice to a “T.”

But I think the best thing you can say to any mother is:

You baby/ children is/ are beautiful and you all look very happy.

And that’s music to any mother’s ears.
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What’s the best or worst advice you received as a new mom, nursing or not? Share below!!

Pax Christi!

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6 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, family, fathers, feminism, lists, mothering, Thursday

6 responses to “Top Ten Things to say to encourage a nursing mother

  1. This is a WONDERFUL article! Loved every bit of it!

    Maybe not the worst advice — but something I’d write down as a ‘DON’T’ —
    Don’t ask a nursing mother when she is going to wean. Just because YOU wouldn’t/havent nursed a toddler doesn’t mean she feels the same way. I nursed my twin boys until 27 months …. they would have gone longer, but I was feeling very OVER it.

    I’m sharing this on Facebook, too. Great job!

    • Thank You for the complement and the share, Mrs. Kennedy! The weaning question is always a difficult one, especially if you are practicing child-led weaning, because you really do not know! And kudos on the nursing of twins for 27 months!! How awesome!

  2. This is such a great list. I wish I was hearing more encouraging words from your list above!

    And while we’re at it, could we eradicate the phrase “try to breastfeed” from our collective vocabulary? The negative language surrounding breastfeeding can be really sad and discouraging to new/expecting moms.

    • MMD, I agree! It kind of reminds me of Yoda: “Do or do not, there is not try.” It almost seems as by saying “try to breastfeed” we are expecting women to fail.

      And to add, if you happen to see a mom nursing in public, and you feel comfortable doing so, give her a smile and nod. You never know, that might be the only encouragement she needs. But if you are a guy, beware, she might think you are weird and trying to flirt with her. 🙂

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