A valid and honest question and concern we hear from many partners is how they can help support and participate with feedings when baby is being breastfed. There are many ways you can help with breastfeeding, but here are what we think to be the top three:
- Be Supportive: This doesn’t just mean supporting the fact that your baby will be breastfed. Go to a breastfeeding class, read a book, understand the physiology, the health benefits, the process, the signs of when maybe a little extra help is needed to ensure a good breastfeeding relationship, and be armed with resources (such as support groups or names of lactation support people) if the need arises. Know that the first couple weeks are hard and uncomfortable and that baby will go through frequent periods of cluster feeding (basically constantly wanting to be at the breast). Your partner will be exhausted, sore, frustrated and wondering if she’s doing it right; encourage her, listen to her, remind her how amazing she is and how lucky you and your baby are to have her.
- Help with Breastfeeding: A lot of partners think there isn’t much they can do to help with feedings when their baby is breastfed, but there actually is. Bring baby to mom and help prepare mom and baby for the feeding. This may mean changing baby’s diaper, undressing them for skin to skin, making sure mom is comfortable and has water and a snack to help sustain her. When baby is finished, you can help by burping baby, holding baby skin to skin on your chest, rocking baby and just enjoying and breathing in the life you helped create. Touch and love from you is nourishment too.
- Protect (and possibly Defend): Unfortunately, even in this day and age breastfeeding is still more taboo than it should be. When you’re out and about and baby is hungry, sit with your partner while she feeds your baby. Sometimes people can be rude and give looks or even feel the need to say something discouraging to a breastfeeding mother. Show her you are there for her and maybe distract her from any possible negativity by taking the moment to connect and talk, laugh, plan and dream. Head off any stares or glares and encourage her if you happen to hear a passerby’s negative comments. Know your state laws on breastfeeding in public (most states allow for breastfeeding in any public place that you’re allowed to be in), but here is the link to read more about the specifics for each state http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx
Sometimes, it may even be necessary to protect or defend breastfeeding to friends or family. Make sure you sit down together and talk about your breastfeeding goals and how you both will be comfortable handling any negativity that may come your way. Find out how comfortable she is with public breastfeeding and encourage her to do what’s most comfortable for her and your child and help in any way you can.
Partners do not realize how their support, understanding, encouragement and help with breastfeeding can aid in making or breaking the success of that breastfeeding journey.
Partners, sometimes you may feel left out or unnecessary for certain processes, but believe us when we say; you are important, you are needed and you are necessary in all aspects of the health and well-being of your child, from conception to birth and everything after.
Want to learn more about how to fully support your family through pregnancy, labor and birth, postpartum or breastfeeding? We offer classes that can help prepare you and build your confidence for all aspects of pregnancy, birth and beyond!