Breastfeeding Support & Holding Space

breastfeeding fourth trimester Dec 24, 2021
Woman holding a sleeping baby

This one comes up A LOT. A breastfeeding mama is exhausted, sometimes feeling a bit overwhelmed and generally just wanting to vent to someone who understands how tough this breastfeeding gig can really be. And what happens? 𝘚𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 "𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘺 𝘢 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘴𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱?"


Now while this may seem like a well meaning offer of support there are some huge problems with this:

1️⃣ Breastmilk supply relies on the principle of supply & demand to work- if you take away the demand (aka the baby feeding at the breast) then either the supply also drops off or mum has to replace that demand by expressing. Neither option is one that most breastfeeding mamas want.

2️⃣ It is always quicker, easier and more efficient to just breastfeed directly- if you really want to help an exhausted mama then offer to hold and settle the baby after a feed so she can go straight off to have a nap. Clean the house so that she can actually rest while her baby sleeps. Or cook a meal and drop it off ready to re-heat for meal time so she doesn't have to plan out how to feed the family.

3️⃣ This one is important... 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 is about allowing peoples feelings to be expressed without us engaging in that natural tendency we often have to try and terminate that feeling. Just like all things in life, breastfeeding can have its tougher moments. Being able to express that frustration without having someone try to shut it down is a really important part of offering support.


If you're not sure what someone needs from you when they're expressing their exhaustion and frustration a really simple phrase can be "𝗱𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺 𝘀𝗼𝗹𝘃𝗲 𝗼𝗿 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻?". It may be that at this point in time they just want you to listen, but that knowing you're able to hold space for their emotions might mean that when they're ready to try and come up with some solutions they will know they're able to do that with you.


Some great suggestions I do have for supporting a breastfeeding mama in a non-judgemental way?

🥙  Help by preparing some food that is easy to eat while feeding, or cut up their meal so that they can eat while they are feeding. 

🥤 Bring them a big drink of water or fill up their drink bottle when they sit down to feed. Breastfeeding is thirsty work and each feed can be a good reminder for mama's to have a drink themselves to make sure they stay hydrated.

🥰  If it is is the middle of the night and you hear bub wake for the umpteenth time, you can show your support by being the one who gets bub from their cot or bassinet, brings them for a feed, changes them mid feed and then settles them after the feed. This can really help mum to get back off to sleep more easily as well as not feeling so alone during those often long nights.

🏅 You can be your partners biggest cheerleader, supporter and breastfeeding protector- if you hear someone say "are you really feeding that baby baby again?!"- you loudly say "YES! and they're doing an amazing job!". Someone makes a rude comment about feeding in public? You can confidently state that your partner is legally protected to breastfeed anywhere that they are entitled to eat. 

Breastfeeding can be a lonely process sometimes and when you're feeling tired and overwhelmed yourself, it's tough not to take on the comments of others. If you love or support someone who is breastfeeding then you have a huge role to play in how supported they feel. 

👂 And on the days when your partner is touched out, overwhelmed and had enough?? You can be a listening ear and a supportive shoulder. We all have tough days, breastfeeding is not different. Sometimes we just need to be able to ride out the tough times with a bit of support and time fixes things for us. On those days- support your partner, help them to relax when they can, cuddle bub so they can get some rest and try to encourage them to take some time for themselves. 


There is a lot of focus on non-feeding parents being able to give their baby a bottle to feel connected- but as you can see, there is a lot you can do to support your partner to breastfeed, and in doing so you are supporting your baby. 


🤱🏻 If you're preparing to breastfeed and want to learn more about how it all works, then check out my course MILK

💜 If your baby has already arrived and you want to learn more about how to take care of yourself or your partner while you also take care of your baby then check out my course MORE.



Want to learn more about how my courses can help you to feel confident and empowered in the fourth trimester and beyond?

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