For Chosen Support
Give Your Best
Everyone Has A
Role to Play
in helping a nursing parent and baby get off to a good start. You are a part of the team!
How To Help
The first few months with a new baby are a time of adjustment. Chosen supporters can help a nursing parent by providing practical support and encouragement. Here are some ways to be helpful.
Make Sure It’s a Good Time for the Family
Check in before you arrive to make sure it’s a good time for visitors. It’s good for new nursing parents and partners to practice lots of skin-to-skin with baby, and some may want to make this a private time. Nursing parents and partners also need to sleep when the baby does, day or night, so you may need to set your visit for another time.
Be Conscious Of Germs
Wash your hands before you touch the baby, and don’t visit if you are sick or were recently exposed to an illness. A sick baby can have a tough time breathing while trying to nurse. Also, babies get sick more easily than adults do because they are still building up their immune system.
Help With Daily Chores
Offer to help by bringing a meal, doing household chores, running errands, or caring for other children in the home.
Assist Nursing Parent
Ask if you can bring the baby to the nursing parent once set up in a favorite nursing position or chair.
Help During Nursing
Bring the nursing parent a glass of water and some snacks while nursing. Many nursing parents feel very thirsty as they nurse.
Offer To Care For The Baby After Nursing
Offer to hold the baby for 20 to 30 minutes after nursing, until baby falls into a deep sleep and can be placed gently down a nap. This gives the nursing parent a chance to rest, knowing that the baby is being cared for.
Encourage nursing parents to remember their goals, and show helpful nursing information if needed. Remind nursing parents they are giving their BEST!
What If A Nursing Parent Seems Depressed?
Many parents feel depressed or anxious during and after pregnancy. It is not a sign of weakness or that the parent has done something wrong. It is a medical condition that can cause a parent to stop nursing and can have long-term health effects. Here is some useful information from the National Institutes of Health on how to identify the signs of depression and what you can do to help.
Know the signs
You are in a unique position to help your loved one if you see signs of depression, such as:
- Frequent sadness, irritability, or anger.
- Foggy thinking or difficulty completing tasks.
- “Robotic” actions, as if going through the motions.
- Anxiety around the baby.
- Saying they are a failure.
- Lack of interest in activities usually enjoyed.
- Ask about the parent’s emotions.
- Be kind and understanding about the concerns.
- Listen without offering advice.
- Let the parent know that perinatal depression is common and can be treated.
- Encourage the parent to seek help quickly.
- Offer to watch the children to give the parent alone time.
- Provide meals or take care of household chores or shopping so the parent can get some rest.
- Schedule time with the parent outside the house to get away from family responsibilities for a little while.
Let the parent know where to get help
Encourage contacting a health-care provider or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find a health-care provider close by.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support—they talk about more than just suicide.
Call 9-1-1 if the parent is feeling like they may hurt themselves baby or if they are having unusual or extreme mood swings or thoughts.
Learn more about depression and anxiety
Download the flyer, “Talk About Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth: Ways You Can Help” (166KB) from NICHD for tips on how to talk about this and more resources on where to go for help. Get more helpful resources on mental and emotional health support.