By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
Congrats! You and your partner just welcomed a new bundle of joy earthside! But between mommy recovering and spending most of her time getting the hang of breastfeeding, where does that leave you? How can you help in all the chaos? The support you provide can determine whether or not your partner accomplishes her breastfeeding goals. That makes your job in all this, pretty important.
Here are 5 practical tips for those who want to help their partner be successful at breastfeeding.
Find her support and get educated
Research tells us mothers who have breastfeeding support from their partners are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals. So that makes YOU pretty important! The support you give is vital in making breastfeeding work for her and your baby. Educate yourself on breastfeeding. If you were not able to attend a class prenatally, contact your local hospital. Take the time to learn about how the human body makes breast milk and what is typical newborn behavior. The more you know about breastfeeding the more you will be able to support her and encourage her when the going gets tough.
Compliment her and mean it
If seeing your partner carry your child for 9 months and spend brutal hours in labor didn’t change you, check your pulse because you might be dead. I mean seriously! This woman just created life inside of her belly and is now making food from her body to feed your growing child! She deserves the world. Buy her flowers. Kiss her gently on the forehead and tell her you are proud of her. Tell her you love her. Tell her what a great job she’s doing. Make sure you do it in front of others too, so everyone can know how amazing she is! Put your phone down, close your laptop and be present.
Give her some “me” time
Even a hot shower can feel like a vacation to the Galápagos Islands during this journey. Take the baby and give her some alone time to soak out all the stress of being a new mama. For an added bonus, prepare the shower or bath in advance and sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil in the corners of the tub for an even more rejuvenating experience. Take the opportunity to do skin to skin and bond with baby. Research tells us that skin to skin with dad is not only important for baby’s development but promotes the bonding process between them. Mommy gets to relax and you get to bond with your baby. Perfect combo!
Listen, learning to breastfeed can be messy! Newborns are messy. Spit ups, poop explosions, and wet stains on everything from leaking and dripping breastmilk are just a few to name. Go to your partner first and ask if it’s OK to have visitors over the house. It’s OK to say no to visitors. Always ask her first. If an unexpected visitor comes by don’t expect her to have to entertain them. Right now her only worry in the world should be learning to breastfeed and bond with baby. It can all be so overwhelming dealing with cluster feeding and a fussy baby. Throw in your long-lost cousin and her runny nose toddler to the mix and you will have one grumpy postpartum mama. Have a plan in place to dodge visitors. Papa Bear to the rescue!
Keep her fed and hydrated
Provide her with cool water on all her typical nursing stations – night table, living room, coffee table, maybe even a balcony or porch. Did she have lunch? Does she need a snack? Keep the fridge stocked with healthy high protein / healthy fat options to keep mommy producing that super milk to power your little superhero! Keeping mommy fed and hydrated won’t necessarily make her produce more milk but it will help with her feeling relaxed and her milk will flow more easily. Join in and share a glass of water with your partner! Cheers to your health!
Breastfeeding is a family commitment. It takes a village to support a new mom and baby. Arm yourself with the right tools and you will be ready to walk through any breastfeeding obstacle your partner will face. She needs you and so does your baby. Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby and you can help make this journey even more beautiful. Need help finding local breastfeeding support? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re here for you and we support you!