By Debra L. Karplus
Your new grandchild has arrived. Your daughter or daughter-in-law is excited to share with you that she will be nourishing the new baby with mother’s milk. Possibly you breastfed your babies, or perhaps you tried and found it too challenging for a number of reasons. Or maybe nursing your newborn way back in the last millennium simply didn’t cross your mind. Your task as grandparent is to be as supportive and knowledge as you can to the new nursing mom.
There are many excellent reasons why new moms choose to breastfeed.
Pediatricians know that mother’s milk is the healthiest option for a newborn opposed to giving formula. Medical experts claim that breastfed babies typically have better overall health and have fewer allergies. Studies suggest that the more months infants are breastfed, the more they’ll benefit from mother’s milk.
Your breastfeeding daughter or daughter-in-law will also appreciate the convenience of feeding baby mother’s milk instead of formula. When baby is hungry, the milk is always ready at a safe temperature for the little one. It’s really that simple!
There is a financial benefit to breastfeeding, too. Some of the online calculators that demonstrate the cost of raising a child show that using formula instead of mother’s milk is approximately $105.00 per month, and more for older babies. In some locations, it might even be more expensive. Breastfeeding can save money for your grandchild’s parents.
Yes, Grandma, Grandpa, (and Daddy) can feed the baby mother’s milk.
In the few decades since you were a young parent, baby accessories have changed tremendously. Your grandchild’s mother may have already shopped around and purchased a breast pump. There are many good reasons for nursing mothers to own a breast pump. From the point of view from you, the grandparent, the most obvious advantage to a pump is that you will be able to feed your new grandchild from a bottle that contains mother’s milk.
Some pumps are manual and cost about thirty dollars or more. Others are electric, cost closer to two hundred dollars and come with many more handy features that nursing mothers find to be very useful. The more you pay for a breast pump, the more features you’ll get.
Possibly a breast pump is on you’re the baby gift registry of the new parents. If not, it’s probably not too intrusive for you or a close relative to purchase one. The corner drug store, discount store or one of the online vendors are all good sources to obtain a new breast pump. Discourage your grandchild’s mom from using a used pump from a friend or relative. There could be some health risks to that, since it could have gathered bacteria.
You and your grandchild’s mother will be pleased with the plethora or information and resources for nursing moms.
Since the late 1950’s, La Leche League (llli.org), an international organization has served as a source of information and a wonderful way for new moms to network. As a new parent, you might have received assistance and guidance from this group. Since that time, of course, the Internet has evolved as a venue for researching just about anything, including breastfeeding. Perhaps after delivering the baby, your daughter or daughter-in-law may have been lucky enough to have spent some time at the hospital with a lactation consultant. These professionals are skilled at helping new nursing moms.
As a grandparent, you should be pleased that your grandchild will be breastfed for some duration of time. Your role is to maintain a positive attitude. When appropriate, share anecdotes about your own experiences related to feeding a newborn.
Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L