We would love your input here. We have put up a new section on our website about how to be a “bosom buddy” and what to say and not to say to moms (see below), and would love more suggestions to flesh it out!
How do I support a friend to breastfeed?
Here are some suggestions excerpted and expounded upon from our Fit Pregnancy: Update on Facebook vs. Breastfeeding:
1) Be gentle. Come from a place of acceptance and compassion; most mothers are far more open to hearing your experience than they are interested in being lectured to or told what to do. Your best bet is to share your experience in a non-judgemental, humble way. Always put your friendship first.
2) Listen. Ask your friend what she knows about or has heard about breastfeeding. Help her think about any underlying feelings she may have, share yours. Only if you listen to what is really going on with her will you know how to best support her, and be able to direct her to the appropriate resources. Hammering her with the science will do no good if her mother disapproves of her interest in breastfeeding.
3) If you see a mom nursing in public, give her a “thumbs up”! We usually just say “Good for you!” or “Great job!” as we pass by. Many new moms are very nervous about nursing in public and your encouragement gives them a confidence boost and sets a good example for others.
4) Ignore misbehavior. Yes, there are some moms who go too far and are looking for attention, and the best thing you can do in those situations is ignore them. Try to keep it all in perspective—flagrantly whipping your boobs out is still not as bad showing that you are not wearing underwear or something! The more accepting our culture becomes of mothers who nurse discreetly, the sooner the need for militancy, extremism or baring all to make others uncomfortable will disappear. Try to understand that militancy comes about from frustration at the overwhelming odds stacked against moms.
A fabulous post on supporting moms to make decisions right for them: Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding, and Somewhere in Between: Why the Guilt?
What if a breastfeeding mom makes me uncomfortable?
We understand because we used to be uncomfortable with it too! After all, breastfeeding in public has been taboo until recently. It might help to view it like other cultural changes: it took a while to get used to the bikini, or seeing people in their workout clothes. Americans are very flexible culturally–consider that Hummers used to be cool, now they are not, because we are more aware of environmental damage (it’s hip to go green and breastfeeding dovetails perfectly with the environmental movement, it’s the original organic!) We hope that with a little effort, soon breastfeeding will not only be tolerated as normal, but will be celebrated, admired and supported.
From Elita, one of our favorite, hip & hilarious bloggers, at Blactating Blog: How do I act around a breastfeeding mom?
What else can I do?
Join us to help bring about mainstream change. Send this link to a friend, sign up for our blog, donate so we can help educate more people on how best to support moms. Part of the backlash against breastfeeding has come about because too many people are beating women over the head about breastfeeding but not using the same coaching skills and encouragement they would to support someone to exercise or quit smoking. We have heard horror stories about how women were berated in the hospital, at home, in public and the workplace. Please help us put an end to this abuse! Best for Babes has a group and cause on Facebook, you can help spread the word and raise funds to educate more mothers about how to avoid the “booby traps” and help fight the barriers that are tripping them up. Breastfeeding protects against dozens of diseases, yet most of these diseases have millions more supporters and dollars than any breastfeeding organization. It’s time we all stood up for the “mother of all prevention,” right under our nose!
We welcome more suggestions, posts, and comments for this section. Please contact us!