Sep 11, 2017

Embedding Breastfeeding Education Into a Grandparenting Class

While the official commemorative day of grandparents has come and gone, you can celebrate them throughout the year. Yes, every day can be Grandparents Day. One way of celebrating is by offering a Grandparenting Class — a class designed for Mimi and Papa, Nanny and Pop, Mammy and Pappy, and all other grandparents with cute alternative names.

It’s no secret that mothers often turn to their mothers, rather than to their healthcare providers, for information and support about infant feeding issues, particularly as their infants grow. While grandmothers have the best intentions, they may lack the knowledge and experience to support breastfeeding, due to limited experience with it.

According to A Grandmothers’ Tea, new mothers have reported that formula is the infant-feeding method most often chosen by their relatives. Less than 25% of women initiated breastfeeding in 1971, a time when breastfeeding rates were at an all-time-low. By 1992 those rates had increased, however at 52% they in no way compare to the rates today.

Many grandmothers are unaware of the AAP recommendations about exclusive breastfeeding in the baby’s first 6 months of life. Educating them about these recommendations and providing them updated information about breastfeeding can be greatly beneficial.

It’s important to note that grandmothers who did not breastfeed may be hesitant to attend an educational event explicitly about it, and breastfeeding education might be best received when embedded in a Grandparenting Class that also covers topics on baby care and changes in standards, like babies sleeping on their backs.

Breastfeeding topics to embed into a Grandparenting Class:

  • Recommendations of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months
  • Continued breastfeeding with solid food until two years old or longer
  • Grandparents comfort with breastfeeding in public
  • Extended breastfeeding beyond a year
  • Ways to be helpful to new mothers beyond feeding their infants a bottle

Grandmothers can be mom’s biggest supporter and advocate even if she didn’t breastfeed her own children.

Suggest grandparents do these things to support mom:

  • Communicate 100% support of mom’s decision to breastfeed
  • Encourage mom rather than advising her to give “just one bottle”
  • Help by doing dishes, grocery shopping and folding laundry, but ask before jumping in
  • Trust mom’s instincts, even if they do not go along with self beliefs

Grandparents are an important source to new mothers. Develop a program that educates and equips them with the right information. That way, you feel more confident when new moms begin seeking advice from their mothers.

Do something grand.

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