Supporting young mothers to choose breastfeeding and succeed

There are many benefits of breastfeeding so it is worthwhile taking some time to counsel young mothers on breastfeeding.

What are the benefits of breastmilk?

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Breastmilk is the perfect milk for a baby. The benefits of breastmilk are:

  • It has all of the nutrients the baby needs.
  • It is easy for the baby to digest.
  • It gives the baby important protection from infections.
  • It is always fresh, clean and ready to drink.
  • It slows the mother's bleeding after birth.
  • It helps prevent the mother from getting pregnant again too soon.
  • It does not cost money.

Woman breastfeeding her child

Breastfeeding is a particular challenge for young mothers, who often consider breastfeeding to be too confining of their movements and too demanding of their time. So it is your task to help maintain a realistic perspective that supports the young mother in making a decision that she is comfortable with and can successfully carry out. Help her achieve her identity and minimise role confusion as she negotiates between her personal development needs and her role as a mother. One way you can do this is by emphasising that she is the only one who can 'mother' her baby when she breastfeeds. Offer her a different perspective; rather than seeing breastfeeding as keeping her 'tied down', explain that she is doing something important that no one else can take over. Emphasise that breastfeeding is convenient and is rewarding to the mother. Provide breastfeeding guidance from the moment of delivery by giving practical suggestions to maximise the mother's success and confidence. In addition, it is good that you do the following:

  • Help her set realistic short-term goals, e.g. breastfeeding until she returns to school is better than not breastfeeding at all.
  • Connect her with a peer breastfeeding support group. Mother-to-mother support relationships have been vital in helping the young mother successfully sustain optimal breastfeeding practices.
  • Focus on body image in a positive way, e.g., breastfeeding can help her return to her pre-pregnant shape.
Last modified: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 9:02 PM