Any breastfeeding mother will tell you that it was the support she received from her partner, first and foremost, that impacted her ability to feed her baby. She needed her partner more than her mother, the lactation consultant, or the pediatrician. read on to learn 6 ways the partner can help with breastfeeding.
Partners don’t presume your wife needs her mother’s support more than yours. Nearly 57% of BBIC survey respondents cited husbands/partners as the most important influence in their lives while nursing. Just over 21% chose their mothers. So, don’t be shy, be an active participant in nursing.
Encourage and compliment her dedication. I list this first as I think it is the most critical. The commitment to breastfeeding is a lot like the commitment to marriage. It is in god times and bad, in sickness and in health. She needs you to compliment her in good times and encourage her with breastfeeding challenges like sore nipples, three am feedings, and mastitis. Show solidarity by participating in nursing time. Sit with her, read to her from a breastfeeding book, or even take your shirt off with her for fun.
Support her in front of family and friends. It’s all over the news. Breast is best. Yet society can exert pressure on women to abandon it, particularly when nursing challenges arise. When you struggle, having you partner act like a gatekeeper and protect the mother baby partnership. The partner can take it on to keep interruptions to a minimum. Focus on ‘helpful’ help who want to bring meals, do chores, and care about the mother as much as the newborn. Don’t be afraid of politely but firmly keeping others at bay.
When faced with breastfeeding challenges, don’t suggest supplemental food options like formula. She knows it’s an option, and she chose to be breastfeeding instead. Avoid the words formula and supplement. Instead Listen to her. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Many new moms need help learning how to set up a safe place to nurse, get a baby to latch on, or help to establish their supply. Your partner will need you to hear her. Offer help where you can and get help if she needs it.
Help comes in many forms. From hiring help to doing more chores. She is even more sleep deprived than you are. She may feel guilty at not being able to help. She may be maxed out just taking care of herself and the baby. Listen to her about what makes her anxious. Observe what would make a calmer, more relaxing environment. Tackle the laundry. Use paper good for the first couple of weeks. Get up with her at night. Hiring a cleaning lady.
Breasts are beautiful, and there is something very primal about lactating breasts. You may think they are sexy. You may want to play with them like a new toy, but for her they are hot, heavy, and drippy. Take sexual cues from her. Ask her for how and where she wants to be touched first.
Last but not least, ask her what she needs. You won’t know unless you ask!
photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on unsplash.