Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

It Takes A Village

Katie Kennedy, RN, IBCLC
April 02, 2019 01:00PM

I recently heard a new mom say “motherhood can be lonely.” This loneliness is true and yet shocking because as parents, we are rarely alone. Tethered to our homes to accommodate nap schedules or trapped in the bathroom to make headway with potty training can make us feel isolated from others. While pumping alone at work, we miss lunch conversations between coworkers. We chauffeur our kids to and from school, practices, events and playdates, but we miss out on our own social interactions. I’ve also heard the phrase “it takes a village.” I firmly believe that finding people, whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, parent group, health care providers, or strangers at the playground, who support and understand us is vitally important.


The “village” benefits breastfeeding too. Nursing doesn’t need to be an exclusive mom and baby club. Partners, family, and friends can play an influential role in assisting and encouraging moms to reach their breastfeeding goals. Research shows that positive and active partner support is associated with increased maternal satisfaction and confidence with breastfeeding. This makes sense because partners are the intimate witnesses of breastfeeding accomplishments and frustrations.


One partner of a mother I worked with says, “Every day I see the physical and emotional energy it takes for my wife to breastfeed our son and pump at work. As a partner, I try to do what I can to support her because although it’s her goal to continue breastfeeding, it can be a lot of hard work. My way of helping and staying involved is to sanitize bottles and pump parts, always make sure she has a glass of water and a snack, change diapers with each feeding, and tell her she’s doing the best she can when we have struggled with delayed milk and low supply.”


The following is a list of some of the ways “your village” can help support your breastfeeding goals:


1. Attend a breastfeeding class together. Learning about the basics of breastfeeding before birth can be beneficial for everyone. It gives a chance to gather information, prepare and strategize. If a class is not possible or available, a great alternative could be reading literature together about breastfeeding. For instance, check out for good evidence-based information about breastfeeding and parenting. Just having someone else understand and appreciate all that goes into breastfeeding can be comforting.


2. Be the visitor gatekeeper at the hospital and at home to allow for plenty of uninterrupted breastfeeding or pumping time, and skin-to-skin. This is especially important during the early learning phase of breastfeeding and times of cluster feeding. To prevent mom and baby from getting overwhelmed, it’s ok to postpone, reschedule or limit visits.


3. Be the extra set of hands to assist with latch and positioning. Even though you may not be a certified lactation consultant, you can still help mom achieve a comfortable and successful feeding session. Whether it’s arranging the pillows, holding a crying baby while mom gets situated or tickling baby toes to keep him awake, a little help can make a big difference.


4. Keep mom fed and hydrated. We spend a lot of time thinking about feeding the baby, but sometimes it means that moms forget to feed themselves. Preparing and offering snacks and meals is helpful and healthy since breastfeeding burns extra calories. Don’t forget to fill up the water bottle too!


5. Bond with baby by snuggling, rocking, holding, bouncing, singing, talking, reading, bathing, diapering, burping, practicing skin-to-skin…The list goes on and on. Experiment to figure out what calms and comforts YOUR baby.


Breastfeeding can be a team effort! Our partners, family, and friends can be breastfeeding assets through physical and emotional support and involvement. When everything is going well, they can give positive encouragement. If the breastfeeding journey is tough, they can offer help during vulnerable and challenging times. PANW also wants to be part of your parenting village. We offer lactation support 5 days a week to answer your questions and support your breastfeeding goals, whether it’s exclusive breastfeeding, partial breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, or combination feeding. Contact our office to schedule an appointment or talk with one of our lactation consultants….and feel free to bring your village with you to the appointment. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.