Think back for a minute to your first week of clinical training. Your patient load is overwhelming. You are constantly getting interrupted to answer questions. It is hard to even think straight. Midway into the first overnight, your visions of being the perfect doctor morph into “Just don’t let me kill anyone!” prayers. During rounds, you report hundreds of details only to have others highlighting things you missed. You feel deflated. Defeated.

Breastfeeding initiation leaves some mothers feeling the same way. A mother’s ideals for breastfeeding the imagined infant often differ from her experience feeding the real infant. Bumps in the road are encountered. Setbacks happen. This is where support should kick in. But when we use words to encourage, instruct, or advise, we need to choose them well. Words can do harm.

In my nursery work over the past 25 years, I have found the following approaches helpful.


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