Looking after a newborn can be hard work.
New mothers are recovering from the birth, exhausted from lack of sleep, probably feeling a little emotional thanks to those pesky hormones, and just getting to grips with those mamma-bear-esque feelings of protectiveness for the new baby.
They may also be feeling less than confident in their new role as a mother, a bit defensive, and as though everyone is out to judge them – which unfortunately tends to happen at this time of life.
While breastfeeding mothers struggle with breastfeeding problems, formula feeding mothers often struggle with feeling judged for not breastfeeding. Whether this judgement is real or imagined, it feels pretty real to the new mother, and can leave her feeling pretty hurt.
The new mother may have struggled with breastfeeding before switching, or always planned to formula feed, but that is neither here nor there. It's not your place to ask about the reasons she came to her decision. All this new mother need, in fact what all new mothers need, is your support.
With that in mind, here are five things that are worth saying to a formula feeding mamma:
What To Say To A Formula Feeding Mamma #1: Can I Get You Anything?
Breastfed mothers are able to sit and feed their babies while guests play hostess, getting drinks and making sure the breastfeeding mother has everything she need.
Some formula feeding mothers report finding the opposite – far from offering to help out so the new mother can feed her baby, guests prefer to take over the feeding. Of course, feeding a newborn baby is lovely, but what the mother and baby really need, is the time to bond.
So hand the bottle back to the mamma, tell her to get comfortable, and go and get yourself a drink while she settles in to feed her newborn baby.
What To Say To A Formula Feeding Mamma #2: Your Baby Is Doing Great
Motherhood comes with a lot of guilt, and all new mothers are terrified that they aren't doing a good job.
Whereas breastfeeding mothers worry about milk production, formula fed mothers may worry that they aren't giving their child the best start in life.
Reassure her that her baby is amazing – healthy, happy and growing, so that she feel confident that she is giving her child a great start.
What To Say To A Formula Feeding Mamma #3: You Two Have A Really Strong Bond
Some formula feeding mothers worry that they are missing out on the bonding experiencing that breastfeeding allows.
By acknowledging the strong bond she shares with her baby, you can help to reassure her that she has already built a lasting relationship with her newborn.
Comment on how well she seems to soothe her baby, and how quickly he turns towards her when he hears her voice.
What To Say To A Formula Feeding Mamma #4: You're A Great Mother
There is nothing a new mother likes to hear more than comments on what a great job she's doing.
Well, ok, maybe the silence in the house once the baby is asleep is a little more valued, but the great mother comments are a close second.
Babies smile for the first time around week six. Before that first loving smile, many new parents wonder whether they are doing a good job.
That first smile is the baby's way of saying, “good job, mama”, but until then, you can provide encouragement by congratulating her on her mothering skills.
What To Say To A Formula Feeding Mamma #5: I Support You
You don't need to say this one out loud, you can communicate it with actions. Simply by offering to prepare a bottle, or by helping out so the new mother can feed her baby, you can show her that you support her decision.
You can also take care not to say things that may make the new mother feel unsupported, and instead focus on the positive things listed above.