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Family and friends - be her breastfeeding village

Want to support your loved one? 



Become part of her breastfeeding village.

Grandparents with baby

Breastfeeding happens more easily when the people closest to the breastfeeding mum support her. She needs information, rest, time to learn and her own needs cared for.

Most of all, she needs the emotional support and commitment from the people closest to her, especially her family.  

It is a huge help when you understand the importance of breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. There are short and long-term risks for both mum and baby if they don’t breastfeed. The more you know about breastfeeding and are willing to help and encourage her, the more likely she will be to reach her breastfeeding goals.     

Supporting breastfeeding as family and friends

A new baby brings new challenges. These days new parents may have had little to do with young babies before having their own. If you're a grandparent, or if you've had children of your own, you know how hard it can be.     

Caring for a new baby is a 24-hour-a day, 7-day-a week job. Always being on call, with interrupted sleep, is tiring and can affect the confidence of new parents. It can take time to adjust to the lifestyle changes a new baby brings. As friends and family, you can be a good source of support.  

Supporting the mum as she learns to breastfeed will help you share the role of caring for the new baby in your life. You can help the new parents become more confident and feel good as they nurture their baby in the best possible way. 

Understanding breastfeeding 

If you’ve had a baby in the past, you may or may not have breastfed. Feeding practices have changed over the years with research into breasts and breastfeeding. If you’re supporting a breastfeeding mum, it can be helpful to learn the current research about how breastfeeding works and how routines, sleeping practices and settling techniques may affect it.  

What's normal in the early weeks?

  • Babies need to breastfeed often, at least 8 times each 24 hours. This makes sure there is plenty of milk and helps to stop mum's breasts from becoming too full and uncomfortable. 

  • Night waking is normal, but very tiring. There may be times when mum finds it all too hard. You can encourage her and remind her that it will be easier once she and her baby get to know each other and learn the skills to breastfeed.   

  • Babies can be fussy and unsettled for lots of reasons and may cluster feed in the afternoon and early evening. Encourage the mum that this is normal and to keep going. 

  • ABA's trained volunteers can help to sort out feeding problems. Encourage her to ask for help.

There are many ways you can help to support breastfeeding, it’s not just up to mums. 

Practical support

  • Make sure mum has all she needs for breastfeeds – a pillow, a drink of water, ways to relax, a snack, her phone.  

  • Offer to hold, settle or take baby for a walk to give mum a break.   

  • Help with some household chores.   

  • Bring a meal or some healthy snacks. 

  • Do the grocery shop. 

  • Look after any other children, either in the home or on an outing with you.  

Father cleaning up

Emotional support

  • Just be there for a chat and encouragement. 

  • Create a relaxed atmosphere, keeping other children quiet and occupied if possible.  

  • Understand that mum may sometimes not want a visit.  

  • Praise and encourage both parents for the job they are doing. 


© Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2022

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