If you are a female in prime childbearing years (I’m calling that 25-40), at any given moment you probably have at least one friend who is breastfeeding.
Right now I’ve got 4 friends with babies under 4 months old. From conversations I’ve had with them, each has expressed their own concern of frustration with breastfeeding.
- "No one tells you how hard it is (or can be)."
- "He's not latching."
- "The doctor's afraid she's not gaining enough weight."
- "Breastfeeding is so tiring - for me and the baby."
In a previous post I talked about the benefits of breastfeeding and touched on the nutritional needs of mom during this time. As part of my regular reading about research, I came across this article: Relationships among Socioeconomic Status, Dietary Intake, and Stress in Breastfeeding Women. I was going to give it a full research review, but I'll be honest, it got depressing and it stressed me out.
So I thought instead, I’d take the knowledge I got from reading it, and just bring you my top suggestions on how to love your friends who are breastfeeding. These could be your peers, your daughter (or in-law), a coworker, or even a casual acquaintance. If there’s one thing that I know about being a new parent, it’s that people need help, and extra TLC. So reach out, offer your services, and show some love.
Ok, so hydration was not the topic of conversation in the article I read. However, we know that hydration is important for most things in life, and milk production is no exception. Drop off a case of bottled water they can leave throughout the house – that makes hydration never more than a few steps away, which is sometimes all they get!
In your normal life, you may bristle at the thought of buying bottled water. In this case, it’s a really simple step to dramatically improve life for this mom. The bottles can be refilled, and can be left around the house for days without going bad. And unlike a glass of water, it can get knocked over or buried under onesies and still be drinkable. Thanks, Laura, for passing along this great tip!
2. Make dinner
Bring some nutrition to their table! Breastfeeding moms tend to be deficient in many key nutrients for ideal milk production and baby development. Specifically, nutrients that are of concern from the article I read are: protein, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
Try one of these nutritious recipes that are easy to make, reheat-friendly, and nutrient-rich.
- Chicken & Orzo Skillet (Katie Goldberg)
- Chicken & Avocado Enchiladas (Gimme Some Oven) – layer this recipe lasagna-style for quicker prep; consider subbing Greek yogurt for sour cream
- Beef and Barley Soup (Eating Well) – add some mushrooms for some vitamin D
- Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry (Cooking Light) – use brown rice for more iron and fiber
My sister-in-law told me of a friend who gave her freezer bags of marinated chicken to keep in the freezer. She was able to use them over time, and with a few different flavors, it kept things interesting. Thanks for the tip, Jen!
3. Provide snacks
It’s not just dinner that is hard to make. Breakfast, lunch, and everything in between is tough, too!
When it comes to snacks, think “produce and protein”. When it comes to new moms, think “one-handed”. A jar of nut butter with apples and bananas. Hummus with pre-chopped carrots, bell pepper, celery and cucumber. String cheese. Individual Greek yogurts or kefir. Hard-boiled eggs. Pre-made frozen smoothie mixes. Protein bars (look for those with more protein than sugar).
When I bring new moms dinner, I like to throw in some lower sugar instant oatmeal packets, a few bars, and easy pieces of fruit.
4. Stay a minute
Maybe you’re dropping off dinner at 6pm in between your own crazy schedule. But what if you dropped it off on your way to work, or on your lunch break, or at a time when you had 30 free minutes. Could you stay for a minute, and give mom a break?
Maybe she needs a shower, or to brush her teeth. A cat nap? The chance to check SOMETHING off her to-do list? Or maybe she just needs to not have another person touching her. What reprieve can you offer her that would reduce her stress level – a key barrier to milk production and the length of individual breastfeeding sessions.
5. Bring lactation-friendly treats
While I want to encourage nutrient-rich foods, and avoid added fats and sugars, there is a place in every person’s life for a little treat. For breastfeeding moms, consider making a baked good that is lactation-friendly.
It's really simple. Just take your favorite quick bread, cookie, brownie or scone recipe, and add a little brewer’s yeast. About 2 Tbs to the whole recipe, mixed in with the dry ingredients. This homemade remedy can help increase milk production, and provide a little treat for mom. Dad will also enjoy it - without any side effects.