The first few months after birth can feel like an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Although there is plenty of joy and excitement, things can also feel overwhelming and confusing at times.
It stands to reason new families need lots of support.
And this is especially true during the early months of breastfeeding.
Partners often feel this is an area where they can’t really be involved, but in fact the opposite is true.
5 Ways Partners Can Be Part Of The Breastfeeding Process
Partners play a very important part in the breastfeeding process. In fact, research has demonstrated women are 10 times more likely to initiate breastfeeding if their partners are supportive of breastfeeding.
Although partners might not be physically able to breastfeed a baby, they still play an important role in the breastfeeding process. They might wonder, however, exactly what they can do to help.
Here are 5 ways partners can be part of the breastfeeding process.
#1: Learn About Breastfeeding Before Birth
Going to a breastfeeding education class together before your baby is born can give you the basics of breastfeeding, provide you with useful hints, and help you get breastfeeding off to the best possible start.
Topics covered in breastfeeding classes are:
- How breasts make milk
- Positioning and attachment for successful breastfeeding
- How to know if your baby is getting enough milk.
Organisations such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association run breastfeeding education classes. Partners are always welcome; learning about the fundamentals of breastfeeding is the best way to equip them to support mamas when they need it.
When a breastfeeding mother is concerned about anything related to breastfeeding, it’s likely her partner will be the first person she’ll talk to about it.
So it makes sense to learn as much as possible before your baby is born. It will help you be ready with appropriate and helpful answers.
One study found “teaching fathers how to prevent and to manage the most common lactation difficulties is associated with higher rates of breastfeeding at six months”.
#2: Be Supportive And Helpful
Looking after a new baby can seem like an all-consuming task at times. Young babies tend to feed 8-12 times every 24 hours.
Sometimes it can be difficult for a new mother to find time to get dressed, shower, eat or even use the bathroom. There are many ways you can help and support your partner.
- Let her know she’s doing a great job.
- Tell jokes and get her to laugh by finding the humorous side of things.
- Bring some pillows to help make her feel more comfortable while she’s breastfeeding.
- Bring her snacks, meals, and a glass of water or a cup of tea.
- Take on household chores.
- Do the shopping or take advantage of online shopping options and have the groceries home delivered.
- Bring baby to your partner for night breastfeeds.
- Change baby’s nappies.
- Assist with settling baby to sleep.
- Bath baby.
- Give your partner a shoulder rub while she’s breastfeeding.
Recently a photo shared by Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, went viral after he posted it on Instagram.
The actor shared the photo of himself kneeling and feeding his wife as she was breastfeeding their newborn daughter. He captioned it with:
“I’ll handle this business. Mama @laurenhashianofficial has her hands full nursing/feeding Baby Tia, so I’m feedin’ mama her dinner. My pleasure.
So much respect to her and all mamas out there holding it down and running things. Just landed and good to get all my girls settled in”.
This is a simple way to help support a breastfeeding mama. So often they are left on their own, trying to nourish themselves while juggling a newborn, who seems to be permanently attached to their breasts. It doesn’t take much to be like The Rock.
#3: Enlist The Help Of A Breastfeeding Expert
Sometimes your partner might have breastfeeding problems, which means you can feel out of your depth trying to support her. That’s ok. You’re not a breastfeeding specialist and you shouldn’t feel you have to fix everything.
When problems arise, you can support your partner by helping her seek extra help from appropriate breastfeeding support organisations, such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League, or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
#4: Be An Advocate For Breastfeeding
Everyone has an opinion about how babies should be fed and cared for. And some people want to share their ideas (sometimes forcefully) with new parents.
As the breastfeeding journey continues, families discover what works best for them. If breastfeeding is important to your family, then you can help maintain your breastfeeding partner’s positive mindset about breastfeeding by blocking out any naysayers.
For example, if you hear someone talking negatively about breastfeeding, or using phrases such as “We’ve found that … works for us”, or “Our doctor has recommended …”, you can be very supportive by stopping such unhelpful input from others.
#5: Above All, Be Patient
A new mother experiences rapidly changing hormone levels in the early weeks after birth. This means she can feel like breastfeeding is going really well one moment and like it’s all falling apart the next.
You can help during this time by being patient. Sometimes you don’t actually have to do anything in particular; just being there and listening to her is often more than enough.
So, in summary, partners play an essential role in the breastfeeding process and there are many ways you can provide support and help.
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