Breastfeeding Takes a Team: How to Support Your Partner
This is for all the partners, husbands, boyfriends and anyone else embarking on the breastfeeding journey with a loved one.
In just the first weeks, you will quickly find that feeding your new baby takes up so much of mama’s time, that she won’t have a free moment for anything else.
But don’t worry, there are ways you can help. Here’s a list of thoughtful ways the partner of a breastfeeding parent, can be involved with breastfeeding.
Anticipate Your Partner’s Needs
By being close-by to give her a water bottle, a burp cloth, brush her hair away from her face, or even put on her favorite show and offer her a snack, you’re showing you’re there for her and allowing her to relax just a little bit. She is going to be sitting in one spot and trying different positions to find her breastfeeding groove, and knowing you’re there makes everything that much easier.
Two Can Help
Is mama done feeding baby? There’s still lots of work to do! Letting her rest when you can while you burp and change the little one, is a game changer. Are there pump and bottle parts to be washed or laundry piling up?
Breastfeeding is an amazing experience but it can also feel like a big chore. Any little thing you can do to help gives her time to visit the bathroom, apply nipple cream, change out her Lacti-Cups, and maybe even shower or nap. Its important mama knows she’s not alone and has a strong partner on her side.
Communicate Communicate Communicate!
Bringing home a new baby can often be overwhelming, and your partner may not even know what she needs. Asking her questions like “Are you hungry?” “Do you need a break?” or “Do you have everything you need to be happy today?” can help you know how you can help, and show your support. This way, she can focus on developing her relationship with her new nursling and know that she is being taken care of as well. Keeping communication open makes things run smoothly and helps avoid misunderstandings later.
Be Supportive if She Needs Help
If breastfeeding isn’t going well in the first few days, and it’s not getting better, she may need to get help as soon as possible. It’s so important to be supportive and even help her get the support she needs. She may need to visit a lactation consultant, visit her ob/gyn or attend a nursing group. Being proactive and doing your research will help you to be ready to offer solutions when your partner is feeling discouraged. Assure your partner that you support her decision to help her feel in control of the situation.
Manage Expectations With One Another
Bringing home a newborn baby is a full-time job and while mom is adjusting to her new routine, it’s unrealistic to expect her to clean and care for other children as usual. It’s important to have a plan so you both can handle things more easily. Divvy up chores, sign up for a meal service or do a meal train, have family members help with chores and errands while your new family adjusts to its new “normal”.
Know that neither one of you will sleep through the night for a while. Try to take turns with naps, tasks and anything else that will help you both get the right amount of sleep to be functional and healthy. Having family members come help if possible, is a great way to make sure you both even get some time to rest.
Other things may change during this time that put stress on relationships, such as mama’s mood. When her milk comes in, it brings a rush of hormones and usually a rush of emotions. Openly communicate with each other, work on your patience and understanding, and try to recognize when you both need a break. Having keywords to indicate when she needs a timeout may also help in clear communication when the right words can’t be found.
Postpartum depression or anxiety are both very real and potential issues, so knowing when to recognize one of the other can be helpful in understanding what your partner is going through and if and when she might need extra help. Don’t hesitate to get her in touch with her doctor in a supporting, loving fashion.
Give Her Space for Self Care
Breastfeeding takes up all your time. She won’t have time to do anything she is used to having time for, including shaving her legs, blow-drying her hair, and other things she used to do for herself. Try to notice when she hasn’t had time to take care of herself.
Has she stopped her nightly skin care routine? Is she still doing that? Or has her bedtime routine suffered because of her nighty breastfeeding duties? How about a massage? Or a pedicure? If these are things that your partner regularly enjoyed before having the baby but has since sacrificed, it may be a sign she has trouble asking for help when she needs it. She shouldn’t have to skip out on self-care in order to take care of the baby.
Don’t rush over to her and insist that she stop what she’s doing right now and “go shave her legs”, but do ask if she needs any extra time to spend on herself. Like saying “I’ll watch the baby while you get yourself a latte and a pedicure.” If you’re not sure just ask her what would make her feel pampered. It may even be as simple as an extra twenty minutes in the morning to herself, and she will appreciate it.
Don’t Let Her Forget Herself and Her Interests
Is your partner a photographer? A surfer? An artist? Is there one activity she’s been missing out on that brings her a lot of joy? Don’t let her slip away from her passions, or she may end up resenting her new role.
Be open and encourage her to get back to doing the things she loves. She doesn’t have to sacrifice her former self to become a mom. Breastfeeding mamas can experience and enjoy all the amazing activities she enjoyed pre-baby. When she is spending her time on her talent or craft, it helps her stay in touch with herself and feel fulfilled and happy outside of her new role as a parent.
Breastfeeding is a team effort and remembering to communicate and be considerate of one another will make everything all that much easier.
Lacti-Cups® can help new nursing moms save 4–12 ounces of breastmilk and hours of pumping and cleaning per day.
They can be used in between feedings and while your baby is feeding from the opposite breast, by collecting all the naturally occurring leaks that are usually wasted in nursing pads.
Learn more at https://www.lacti-cups.com
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