• Race To A Cure Authors

Support Breastfeeding Mothers!


Breastfeeding is always recommended by pediatricians and other healthcare professionals as a means to feed newborn babies due to the numerous benefits it offers. However, the ultimate decision of whether or not you choose to breastfeed is up to you. Every breastfeeding mother’s journey is different, but they all share one common experience: difficulty. Here are some of the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as some ideas to show support throughout a mother's breastfeeding journey. 



(Image is courtesy of webbed.com)


Benefits of breastfeeding


For the baby

  1. Ideal nutrition 

  2. Breast milk provides the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. It is also easier to be digested comparing with instant formula. Breast milk changes in consistency and nutrition to cater to the baby’s needs. 

  3. Body defence

  4. It contains antibodies, proteins and enzymes that can help babies to activate their immune system and protect them against diseases. 

  5. Lower risk of certain diseases

  6. Study shows that breastfeeding can reduce the chance of developing asthma. In 2011, the European Lung Foundation discovered that children who had never been breastfed had an increased risk of wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm during their first 4 years. 

For the mother

  1. Helps uterus to return to pre-pregnancy size faster

  2. Breastfeeding stimulates the brain to release oxytocin. This can cause the uterus contractions to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size.  

  3. Lowers the risk of breast cancer

  4. According to research, mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of one year were slightly less likely to get breast cancer. It is still unclear the reason behind the correlation. Possibly, lactation delays when women start having a menstrual cycle. This reduces lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen which are often linked to breast cancer. 

  5. Helps bonding with the baby

  6. Physical contact, skin-to-skin touching and eye contact help the baby bond with the mother. They are ways to build a secure and loving relationship. Breastfeeding allows the mother to spend more time to interact with the baby and to maintain a positive emotional tone. It encourages the mother to spend regular time with the baby. 


(Image is courtesy of researchgate.net)


Ways to show support to the mothers


Whether you are a partner, family member, friend, or stranger, there are tons of ways to support the mothers. Breastfeeding support can lower the mother’s stress and boost breastfeeding success. 

  1. Don’t assume that the mother wants to be alone. Making a polite excuse when it’s time for the baby may seem to be the right manner but breastfeeding is sometimes very lonely. Simply ask the mother, ‘Do you want to be alone?’ If she says no, stay with her. Provide a comfortable space for breastfeeding mothers who want to spend time with their family members. On the other hand, provide private space for those who don’t wish to breastfeed in an open setting.

  2. Offer encouragement. ‘If I did it, you can do it!’ ‘Breastfeeding is the best!’ These may seem supportive but they all imply judgement behind it. Simply offer a simple, genuine word of encouragement, such as ‘You’re doing a fantastic job!’ Remind her of all the benefits of breastfeeding and give her lots of moral support! 

  3. Use some practical support. The mother is probably tired and exhausted from feeding, diaper changing, rocking, and more. Do some housework for her. Bring her water or snacks in case she is too tired to grab some. If you have older kids, keep them engaged and avoid disturbing the mother when she needs private time and rest. 

  4. Learn hunger cues. Partners, mothers-in-law, and friends always try to help the mother. However, if you keep saying ‘I think the baby is hungry,’ it will bother the mother a lot. Learn the hunger signals of the baby so you can comfort the baby on your own while letting the mother rest. 

  5. Offer to be a bridge for professional help. A lot of times mothers, friends, and mothers-in-law have awesome tips and personal experiences to share. However, mothers can get expert advice and personalized solutions from professional help. Here are some organizations that can help with that. La Leche League International, International Lactation Consultant Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, The Lactation Foundation

  6. Allow the breastfeeding mother to work part-time or flexible working hours. In order to sustain breastfeeding for at least a year, employers can allow them to work on a part-time basis after maternity leave. This not only can ease the mother’s stress and fatigue, but it also allows the mother to spend more time bonding with the baby without sacrificing her career. 

  7. Stand up for the mother. Breastfeeding is starting to be legal in many places. If you are in an airport, a coffee shop, or a restaurant and you catch someone shaming a mother who’s breastfeeding in public, defend the woman immediately. It is understandable that the breastfeeding scene may seem to be uncomfortable, just consider it as a natural union between the mother and baby. 

  8. Show support on social media. Display posters with positive breastfeeding images and messages. This can influence breastfeeding attitudes and breastfeeding norms. Social media is a powerful platform to spread awareness and show community support.  


(Image is courtesy of gift.org)


I am not here to encourage you to breastfeed due to all those amazing benefits. It is up to the mother to decide what is best for the baby. At the end of the day, don’t underestimate the difference you can make to breastfeeding mothers. Nursing a baby is a tough job, so show some support and encouragement! Remember, the mothers are only creating a healthy and special bond with the babies and no one can take that right from them. 


References:


AG, M. (2019, August 27). Breast milk composition: What's in your breast milk? Retrieved from

https://www.medela.ca/breastfeeding/moms-journey/breast-milk-composition

Breast-feeding reduces breast cancer risk, says new report. (n.d.). Retrieved from

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318788#Exclusive-breast-feeding-for-6-

months


Featured image courtesy of Wix



Article Author: Michelle Lam

Article Editors: Maria Giroux, Sherilyn Wen

Follow Us on Social Media

Sign up to the Race to a Cure Newsletters

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

RACE TO A CURE

© 2020 Race to a Cure

Incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act