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Involving Family


Grandparents often want to do everything they can to help you in raising your child. Occasionally it can feel like they are being overly helpful, which can get annoying and make you irritable, but try not to snap at them – it will purely be because they want to help.

Your partner may find it embarrassing to breastfeed in front of the grandparents to begin with, especially her/your dad, so ask your partner to decide if she is comfortable with this, and if not, ask the grandparent to leave the room or suggest feeding your baby elsewhere in private. In time you will find that it becomes less awkward, as everybody soon comes round to the fact that breasts are actually designed for feeding babies, so it should soon become very natural and normal.

When your partner feels comfortable feeding in front of your baby’s grandparents, they can also get involved and help by fetching things like drinks, bibs, cloths or cushions.

Also remind them that there are many other ways they can bond with their grandchild without directly helping with feeding, too.

They can take baby at bath time or bedtime, help changing nappies and getting him dressed. They could also take your baby out for some air to give you and your partner a break, or babysit while you go out, or they can help out with things like housework or picking up groceries from the supermarket.

Your parents and your partner’s parents can be very useful people to have on hand, and they will want to help you in any way they can, so utilise that extra support.

If the grandparents still feel left out, and your partner is comfortable expressing breast milk, they can feed your baby using a bottle when you need a rest, allowing them to be involved but you know your baby is still getting breast milk, not formula.

How can family and friends support breastfeeding?

New mums need a lot of support in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding. What can friends and family do to support a mum who is breastfeeding?

Did you know?

  • Women are three times more likely to stop breastfeeding in the first two weeks if none of their friends breastfeed.
  • Almost 90% of women with friends who breastfed their children also planned to breastfeed their own babies. Where women didn’t have friends who breastfed, the percentage was reduced to 51%.

I was having a very bad day and a friend came up to me, put her arms around me, and told me that motherhood is the hardest job in the world, and that I was doing a fabulous job… Prior to that no one had told me that parenthood was hard, I believed it would all come naturally…

If you’ve breastfed yourself, it may be useful to share your experience with your friend. If you do not have children or did not breastfeed yourself, you may feel awkward and lacking in knowledge or experience to support a friend who has just had a baby and is starting to breastfeed. But remember that she is just feeding her baby, so you don’t need to feel any more awkward than if she was feeding her baby with a bottle.

What can friends and family do?

  • Don’t be embarrassed if she is feeding in front of you – remember she is feeding her baby – you wouldn’t be embarrassed if she had a bottle of formula in her hand.
  • If you walk into the room and discover she is breastfeeding, don’t try to escape and pretend you hadn’t noticed – ask her if she is happy with you in the room.
  • If she would prefer to be on her own, remember that she is learning a new skill and needs to build her confidence.
  • Sit next to her, rather than opposite her – that way you don’t have to ‘avoid’ looking at her while she is feeding, but can still have eye contact while talking.
  • Don’t assume that she will want to be alone/in private to feed her baby – most women hate being locked away on their own – she will probably want to chat and talk to you as normal.
  • Offer to help, by making her more comfortable or getting her a drink.
  • Try not to ask questions like ‘how do you know whether the baby is getting enough milk?’ – she may start doubting herself and worry unnecessarily.
  • Don’t ask when she is going to give up breastfeeding – support her in her decision to breastfeed for as long as she wants to.
  • Help out by bringing lunch/dinner when you visit her or offering to pop out to the shops for her.
  • If you are going out together, then check beforehand whether the place you intend to go to is breastfeeding friendly. If it isn’t then go somewhere else.