For Baby’s Grandmother: Info about breastfeeding and tips to help the breastfeeding Babe

This is the sixth and final post in our special series for Mother’s Day, themed “Rebuilding the Circle.”  We asked Laura Keegan, RN, FNP to create a letter for daughters to give to their mothers that discusses the decision to breastfeed.  This is the complementary post to the letter, including a short list of facts that grandmothers and new moms might find useful. 

Laura is the author of Breastfeeding With Comfort and Joy, a book which we feel captures the importance of women nurturing each other through the breastfeeding journey – especially moms nurturing their daughters.

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A mom breastfeeding her newborn is usually caring for, touching and holding, or close to her baby 24/7. In cultures where breastfeeding is the norm, they experience far fewer problems with breastfeeding than our culture. In many of these cultures, for about 6 weeks after the birth, mom’s community takes care of child care and household duties including food preparation for mom and family. Mom’s only responsibility is to care for her baby for those 6 weeks after the birth. It allows mom to heal her body and learn and gain comfort in breastfeeding.

Many moms share the experience that when they have their babies, they really want their moms!

A mom’s presence makes a child feel safe and gives them confidence like no one else can.

I’m no longer a child but I need you to be with me on this journey! You are my touchstone.

A mom spending lots of time skin to skin with her baby increases her milk production and minimizes physiological stress for both her and her baby. Mom will need to have ongoing private time with her baby. Well meaning visitors can interfere with mom’s time with her baby, and entertaining visitors can place undue demands on those busy helping mom as well.

Babies’ stomachs are very small and babies need to be fed often. Frequent feedings are NOT a sign that the baby is not getting enough.

We know a breastfed baby is getting enough nourishment by observing his behavior and how often and how much he wets and soils his diapers. We don’t need to measure how much breastmilk a baby gets or need mom to pump to see how much milk she makes (the amount of breastmilk a mom pumps is not a reliable indicator of her production).

Just like their babies, moms need to get enough nourishment, so they can care for and feed their babies. Mom may need to be reminded to eat and drink by having food and water readily available at the bedside and in the kitchen. Mom needs sufficient protein, good fats, fruits and vegetables and calories to meet her needs. It is a good idea to always have high protein snacks and water to drink at mom’s arm’s length. Comfort foods are a good idea too. As much as possible, arrangements for food preparation for mom and family, by someone other than mom, is important. This is advice you can share with visitors too. Short visits and bring a meal!

Newborns sleep a lot (and moms should too). They spend a lot more time asleep than awake, waking mostly to feed; and are awake less for alert time. Mom may have to wake her baby to feed at times and will look for feeding cues. And of course babies cry to communicate that they need something: a diaper change, to be held, a soothing voice; crying is a late sign of hunger for infants, though.

“]Some people feel uncomfortable around breastfeeding. If you feel uncomfortable, you may want to come to a place where women are openly breastfeeding e.g., a breastfeeding café or La Leche League meetings. Or, you may want to seek out and view positive images of breastfeeding families that are readily available.  (Editor’s note: We love Laura’s book, Breastfeeding With Comfort and Joy! It’s full of beautiful images that normalize breastfeeding and is an incredibly rich educational resource, too.)

Breastfeeding really is better than formula and can be lifesaving. Breast milk can be lifesaving not just for premature babies and newborns, but for older babies and children, too. Significant benefits of breastfeeding continue for the older baby and toddler. Breastmilk is alive and provides immediate living immunity to illnesses.  It also provides living material for early development of baby’s immune and other systems that provides lifelong benefits. Breastmilk is always changing. It changes throughout the day to meet babies’ needs; it changes month-to-month and year-to-year to meet the changing needs of the growing baby and child. It really is amazing and miraculous!

Just as babies are far better off getting their nourishment from their mothers during pregnancy; they are also far better off getting their nourishment from their mothers after birth.

Breastmilk is: Life nourishing life!



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5 Comments | Last revised on 05/10/2011


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5 Responses to For Baby’s Grandmother: Info about breastfeeding and tips to help the breastfeeding Babe

  1. I am so glad to see that mother and baby bonding is getting more and more of a focus. Moms really do need time to learn how to breastfeed and gain confidence in their new found skill. Thank you so much for being such an amazing resource for families and mothers!

  2. Kim says:

    Awesome article! This is so very needed in a culture where most new grandmothers know so little about breastfeeding, given that most of them formula fed their own children. I see so many situations where grandma is either not particularly encouraging of her daughter when it comes to breastfeeding or actively discouraging her daughter due to her own ignorance. So, this is timely, indeed.

  3. alice jostandt says:

    I am 74 and will be a new grandmother in a couple of days. I am afraid I have forgotte most of my breastfeeding days.I want to help my daughter in case she has problems but not sure where to get the info.

    • Bettina Forbes, CLC says:

      Go to “For Moms” from the navigation bar on our home page, there are lots of resources for expecting and new moms! Congratulations and good luck!

  4. Andrea says:

    Please don’t assume that because a woman is a grandmother she has either forgotten or doesn’t know how to support her daughter – or daughter-in-law – when breastfeeding. To generalise in this way is a real put-down of the wisdom of older women, who may only be in the 40s themselves. In my case, I was 47 when I became a grandmother and had only finished feeding my last child six years before. It is articles such as the above that stereotypes grandmothers as little old ladies with snow-white hair. These days, grandmothers are vital, contributing members of society and are rarely found sitting in a rocking chair watching the world go by – we’re too busy being out there and making it happen!

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