While breastfeeding is natural, it's also a learned skill.
As such, it can take some time to get the hang of.
The path to getting breastfeeding working well can be smoother if a mother feels supported by those closest to her.
Accurate and up-to-date information, time to learn and having her own needs cared for – all these factors help make the journey to getting breastfeeding working well easier too.
9 Helpful Things Partners Can Say To Breastfeeding Mamas
Perhaps most important of all is a mother feels emotionally support by her partner. The more her partner knows about breastfeeding and is willing to help and encourage her, the more likely she will reach her breastfeeding goals.
In fact, research has found a woman is ten times more likely to breastfeed if she has a partner who wants their baby to be breastfed.
Sometimes, although partners want to help, they may struggle to know what to say that’s helpful. Here are 9 helpful things partners can say to breastfeeding mamas.
#1: How Can I Help?
Since there is typically only one pair of lactating breasts feeding the baby(ies), you may think there’s not much you can offer to do to help.
However, a breastfeeding mama will often have zillions of things going through her mind of what needs to be done once the baby has finished nursing. This could be the load of washing still waiting in the machine, the phone call to the insurance company, or getting grocery shopping done. So, asking how you can help is really helpful!
#2: Here’s A Drink And A Snack For You
Breastfeeding can make mothers thirstier and hungrier. In fact, breastfeeding mothers typically need an average of an extra 500 calories a day, compared to when they aren't breastfeeding.
So bringing your breastfeeding partner a drink or a favourite snack is likely to be very much appreciated. It’s not uncommon for new mothers to find themselves snacking on empty calories such as biscuits and chips because they’re easy to grab in a hurry.
By offering a healthy snack, such as fresh fruit, veggie sticks and dip, or nuts, you can help her enjoy some much needed nutrient-rich food.
#3: Can I Get Anything For You?
It’s common for breastfed babies to feed 8-12 times in 24 hours. This literally means hours and hours of feeding which can make mothers feel like they’ve become part of the couch.
Offering to get your partner what she needs, such as her phone, book, snacks etc, especially during cluster feeding periods, can help to ensure she's comfortable.
#4: You're Doing An Awesome Job!
Many breastfeeding mothers need to feel encouraged, empowered and reassured. This is especially important when things haven't felt easy, or when she's tired and feeling touched out.
Let your partner know she’s doing an awesome job and you’re proud of how awesome she is at being a mum.
#5: Breastfeeding Can Be Challenging
Some women feel like they’re doing something wrong if breastfeeding isn’t going well. This can make them feel they’re somehow failing their baby.
It can help your partner to be reminded breastfeeding can be challenging to get the hang of for many mothers. While many women have breastfeeding problems in the early weeks, most go on to enjoy breastfeeding for many months or years.
#6: How About I Call The Breastfeeding Helpline?
Breastfeeding support organisations such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association offer breastfeeding helplines, which can be called for peer-to-peer support breastfeeding counselling.
Sometimes speaking to someone who has been there and done that and is knowledgeable about breastfeeding can make all the difference. Offering to contact a helpline for your partner shows you support her efforts and want to help her when things get tough.
#7: I'm All Over Baby Care
While breastfeeding your baby may not be an option, there is still a lot you can do for your baby. For example, babies need countless nappy changes every day! You can also help with burping and settling your baby for a sleep.
This baby care gives your partner a chance to have some time to herself, whether that's to have a nap or wash her hair, and it gives you time to bond with your baby.
For more ideas, read 5 Ways To Be An Awesome Dad And Partner.
#8: Thank You For Breastfeeding
Thanking your partner for breastfeeding can help give her the boost she needs. It’s not uncommon for breastfeeding mothers to encounter a lack of support when it comes to breastfeeding.
By indicating you are thankful and proud of her breastfeeding, you help empower her to continue, especially when things are a little rocky and she's feeling so tired.
#9: Would You Like A Massage?
Who doesn’t like a good shoulder rub? Providing her with a massage can help her relax and reduce any muscular tightness.
So, there are many things you can say to help your partner have a positive breastfeeding experience. In the early weeks it can be hard to figure out your role, but you’ll gradually learn what works best. When you’re unsure about how to help, just be her cheerleader and offer practical help.