Grandparent’s Day is the 1st Sunday of September. It is a day to honour grandparents but also a good time for grandparents to think about their role in supporting their children as they raise the grandchildren.
1) Support your child’s decision to breastfeed regardless of whether you breastfed or whether you feel your own breastfeeding experience was “successful”. Over the years you will find many ways in which your grandchildren will be raised differently than you raised your own children. It is a different world with different pressures than you experienced. The young family is made up of different people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences than you had. Their choice to do some things differently than you did is not a criticism of your parenting decisions.
2) Encourage mum to be comfortable feeding her baby in your company. Don’t make her sit in a bedroom or other private place for feeding – it will make her feel left out of the family. If she wants some privacy or baby needs some quiet time that is also fine. Your grandbaby’s parents are the best judges of what they and baby need at that moment.
3) Nearly all women are physically capable of breastfeeding but breastfeeding can sometimes feel like a struggle in the early weeks, especially if the new parents aren’t prepared with accurate information. You can give them a Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as a pre-baby gift and encourage them to attend a La Leche League meeting before baby is born to make connections with their local breastfeeding support system. Many grandmas enjoy relieving their breastfeeding days by attending a La Leche League meeting with their new grandbaby.
4) If you don’t live close by the phone or an internet chat can help bridge the distance. Listen fully to any concerns the parents bring up. Rephrase what you think you heard them say to confirm that you understand what is worrying them. Before making suggestions ask them what they think is the best solution to the current issue. Brainstorming ideas with them can help the parents find a solution that they are comfortable with. Saying “have you considered …” is more helpful than “you should do…” Encourage them to contact a La Leche League Leader for breastfeeding support and information.
5) Be careful not to undermine their decision to breastfeed by suggesting that they give baby a bottle as a solution to a breastfeeding challenge. Most breastfeeding challenges can be resolved by ensuring that baby is latching correctly and is spending enough time at the breast to empty it fully and effectively.
6) Be okay with spending a lot of time looking at the back of your grandchild’s head in the early weeks. Breastfed babies spend a lot of time at the breast. You have many years ahead in which to play with your grandchild and enjoy face-to-face time.
7) There are lots of things you can do with a breastfeeding baby when he/she is not at the breast. Cuddling time is the one every grandparent wants but burping, bathing and changing diapers also create opportunities for some hands on time. Taking baby for a walk, around the house or outside, can give mum a few minutes to have a shower or a nap. 10 minutes alone can be a real treat for any new parent.
8) Ask the new parents what would be helpful to them in terms of doing some housework, laundry or making a meal. Many new parents feel like they should be able to “do it all” so make sure your offer of help doesn’t come across as a criticism of their current housekeeping standards. Your role as a grandparent is to look after the parents so they can look after the baby.
9) Read up on the parenting and breastfeeding information that your grandbaby’s parents are going to be exposed to. While breastfeeding has been the norm for humans back to the beginning of human history our understanding of the science behind breastfeeding has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 20 years. There are some great article for grandparents HERE
10) Remember that while your grandbaby’s parents are growing into their roles as parents you are also adjusting to a new role and a new relationship with your child and their spouse. It will take time to figure out what kind of a grandparent you can be. It may not be the same kind of grandparent that yours were for you or that your parents were for your children and that is okay. As long as your children and grandchildren know that they are loved for who they are and that you believe in their strength and capabilities you will be a great grandparent.
Happy Grandparent’s Day!
La Leche League Leaders are happy to answer breastfeeding questions from mums, dads and grandparents. Contact us at LLLC.ca