Breastfeeding may be a natural function of the female body, but it is not easy. It takes time, practice, and sincere dedication to really get the hang of it. As the partner (or even friend/family member) of a nursing mother, the importance of the emotional support that you offer during this time could never be overstated. It is your job to be the cheerleader. If you offer encouragement and appreciation, Mom will be more likely to hang in there through the rough parts. She’ll remember you were there for her when she needed you.
Here is the best part, unlike formula, breast milk costs NOTHING and never runs out! That means no late night trips to pick up cans of formula.
Listen up Partners; the benefits to breastfeeding your baby are endless! Mom’s breast milk contains the perfect blend of nutrients for your baby! Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections and stomach bugs than babies who are formula-fed. If a baby is breastfed for at least three months it can reduce the risk of infections during their first year. There is also research to suggest that it will reduce their risk of obesity. Here is the best part, unlike formula, breast milk costs NOTHING and never runs out! That means no late night trips to pick up cans of formula. The longer your partner breastfeeds, the greater the benefits are. Check out our top tips below to help breastfeeding stay on the right track.
Now is the time to show her how invested you are in her breastfeeding your child! Read some of the pamphlets she has brought home, check out one of her books, or take a breastfeeding class with her. The more information you are armed with, the more helpful you will be in the middle of the night when the baby is screaming and your partner is crying because they won’t latch on. The last thing you want to feel is inept, so let it become your job to educate yourself.
The Internet contains a plethora of knowledge! Here are four great web sites to use as starting points. They will help you to gain the knowledge you need to assist your partner in meeting the breastfeeding goals of your family.
Partners, it’s time to get familiar with some of the terms related to breastfeeding! Read up on some of the terms below. When they come up you will already be one step ahead!
- Watery thirst-quenching fluid that your breasts give at the beginning of each feeding
- Hind Milk
- Milk at the end of a feeding, which has a higher fat content than the foremilk at that feeding
- The term used to describe how your baby attaches himself/herself to your breast
- Let-down Reflex
- Warm rush of milk which feels sort of like a tingling sensation. This occurs after your baby has latched on to your breast
- A breast infection which is caused by a blocked milk duct that has become infected. Mastitis causes flu-like symptoms such as a fever, nausea and it will be very painful
- Cream that is applied to sore, cracked nipples. Lanolin will not prevent nipple soreness. However, it is very soothing to already sore and cracked ones
- Nursing Pads
- Small round pads that are specially made to fit inside nursing bras and soak up leaking breast milk
It is the worst feeling for your partner when they sit down and start nursing only to realize that they’ve forgotten to grab a water, or a snack to refuel. When she sits down to nurse ask her if you can get her something to eat, something to drink, something to read. It’s a very simple gesture that can go a long way in making her feel more comfortable. This is also an ideal time to ask her if there is anything you can do around the house. Better yet, just take the initiative and do it yourself! Unload the dishwasher, maybe put away the laundry. This will NOT go unnoticed and will make her day just a little bit easier!
Seek Outside Help When Necessary
Is your partner struggling with breastfeeding? Maybe the baby just can’t get a good latch, she cannot seem to regulate her milk supply or she has a strong/slow let down which seems to agitate the baby? Now is the time to remind her that, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Let her know how amazing you think she is doing, and how proud you are of her. Encourage her to use the resources available to help her. Breastfeeding can be hard, but she is investing in the long term health of your baby and that is priceless. It is perfectly acceptable as well as encouraged to seek help. Do the research for her and help her to find a lactation consultant. They specialize in getting babies to breastfeed successfully. When you are still in the hospital, encourage your wife to have one of them come visit (it’s free) to help get things off to a good start.
If she really seems to be struggling once you get home, encourage her to go back and visit the lactation consultant again. Many hospitals offer these return services for free. Show her the La Leche Leauge Facebook support groups. This is a great open forum for her to ask questions to other mom’s who have been there. It will remind her that she is not alone. Your partner may feel embarrassed and defeated if she is struggling. She may not be brave enough to ask for help. So, be on the look out for her and suggest it if necessary.
Let Her Know How Proud You Are
This amazing woman has made the selfless decision to provide your child with natures perfect food, made specifically for your baby. Even though breastfeeding is a choice it can sometimes feel like a tireless and difficult job. As her partner, it is your job to let her know how proud you are of her. This may seem simple but it is necessary and meaningful. Don’t stop at telling her, tell your family, her family and all your friends that this woman is doing an amazing job and has blossomed into an amazing mother! It will give her reassurance and make her feel loved!
Wake up with her in the middle of the night
At Daily Mom, we know you do not want to hear this one! Maybe you have to get up in the morning and go to work, or maybe you both have a busy day ahead of you. But, don’t make her be the only one to wake EVERY TIME. It is not necessary to get up and start the day, but show her you care that she can be up countless times at night. You can roll over and rub her arm or leg, tell her she is doing an awesome job or just ask her if she needs anything. When you hear the baby, offer to get up and bring the baby to her and check their diaper so she doesn’t need to get out of bed. It will only take a few minutes of your time but this gesture WILL NOT go unnoticed! We know that you are tired, but Mom is tired too. Remember, this too shall pass! Before you know it these nighttime feedings will be a thing of the past. You may even find yourself missing seeing their innocent little face and their little coos at 2am, 4am and 6am. (OK-Maybe Not!)
Remember that the absolute best thing that you can do is be supportive and considerate of your partner, in midst of the amazing journey you all have embarked on!
Check out these Daily Mom articles to expand your breastfeeding knowledge & help your partner.