Give Your Best
Congratulations on Your New Family!
Make the most of it by giving a nursing parent the support they need to nurse their new baby.
How To Help
The longer a parent nurses, the better it is for both the parent and the baby. Nursing has benefits that last all through life, and your support, encouragement, and help can get a nursing parent through the rough times. Here are some things you can do to help.
Offer to talk about the benefits of nursing. Start talking about it before baby comes—this is when most nursing parents decide how they will feed their babies.
Learn About Myths
Learn all about nursing and the myths that might affect a nursing parent’s decision to feed. Learn how human milk is better than human milk substitute (formula). The more you know, the more you can offer helpful information.
After Baby Is Home
Help With Everyday Tasks
Offer to provide a meal, do household chores, run errands, or care for other children in the home.
Look For Hunger Cues
Help nursing parent look for baby’s early hunger cues such as licking his lips, sucking tongue or hand, searching for the nipple, or making small sounds.
Help With Nursing Parent's Comfort
Make sure the nursing parent is comfy and has a snack and glass of water nearby when nursing.
Hold The Baby
Hold baby for 20 to 30 minutes after nursing. That’s about how long it takes baby to fall into deep sleep until baby can be put down for a nap.
Keep The House Quiet
Help keep the house quiet while baby’s sleeping so nursing parent can take a nap, too.
Help If Baby Is Upset
Babies cry for all sorts of reasons. It doesn’t always mean they are hungry. If baby’s crying, check to see if a diaper change is needed, or if baby just needs to be cuddled or calmed.
Be An Encouraging Voice
Nursing can be tough for any nursing parent, especially at first. Let them know it gets easier with time and the journey is worth it.
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.