I had some truly wonderful friends during this time, but I also lost friends during this time, which still breaks my heart.
Disclaimer: I am a very sensitive person. During the first six months of each of my baby's lives, I was the most vulnerable and emotionally pained that I have ever been. All I can do is share my own personal experience.
WHAT TO AVOID SAYING
2. 'Have you tried fennel tea?' or any number of remedies... lactation cookies, beer, more skin to skin, checking for tongue tie, staying in bed for a weekend with baby, meditation, domperidone, etc. Again, unless she specifically asks you for advice, don't offer it. Chances are you are the ten-thousandth person that has mentioned this to her, and you might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back and have a box of breastfeeding tea thrown in your face.
|Literally thousands of dollars and francs spent on milk-boosting remedies |
from all over the world. These lactation cookies, though, were the tastiest that I tried! :)
4. 'It's because you are giving supplements. If you stopped supplementing, your supply would go up.' Ummm no. Yes, true, breastfeeding works as supply and demand, and every time you supplement you are signalling to your breasts that they don't need to make that milk... but hey, I'm keeping my baby alive. Your friend is choosing to feed her baby, which has to be the priority. This idea that every drop of supplemental milk you give is damaging you own milk supply and reducing your chances of being able to exclusively breastfeeding is something that was always at the forefront of my mind when feeding, and resulted in every feed being one that made me feel insufficient, and dramatically contributed to my depression. Truth does not trump sensitivity. You are not being a good friend by telling her this.
|Us using a Supplemental Nursing System|
6. 'You are so stressed... maybe it would be better if you just stopped.' She knows that this is an option. She knows. She wants your support. She wants to feel like you are there with her, not that you are judging her decisions, and think she is doing the wrong thing.
7. 'At least you don't have oversupply. That's a real nightmare.' Sigh. At least your body can keep your baby alive. (And yes, I acknowledge that oversupply has it's own problems, of course. But don't expect someone with low supply to sympathise with those at the time of her own struggles!)
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Hold her. When she has a moment without a baby or pump attached to her breasts, hug her (gently, if her nipples are going through a tough time!) and hold her hand as she talks to you.
2. Let her know that you've done a bit of research into this area, or have some experience (which I expect is true if you are reading this!), or know of some good lactation consultants (if this is true), and if she ever wants any advice or tips, you're happy to help.
3. Be practical -- Hold the baby while she finishes her tea, takes a shower or nap; bring lasagne and salad; take her dirty laundry and bring it back the next day clean and folded; do the washing up.
4. Tell her that she is an amazing mother. She is the best person in the entire world to be the mother to this little baby. Tell her how you can see her baby feels such comfort and love with their mother.
Lastly, I want to say an enormous thank you to my gorgeous friends who held my hand with me throughout my journeys and managed to keep their mouths shut and their arms and hearts open -- you know who you are. I love you.