When new parents make the decision to breastfeed, the reality is that the person who is producing the milk is going to be the one who, well… has to produce the milk. Even if they want to pump for the partner to handle some feedings, that milk still takes time to pump. Only now, someone has to wash the pump parts and bottles! For this reason, and many others, it might actually be easier for the mom or lactating parent to exclusively breastfeed. This decision can leave partners wanting to know how they can support breastfeeding and find their own ways of bonding with the baby. Well, breastfeeding isn’t always easy, and active partner support can help make the postpartum period easier on everyone. Consider the following breastfeeding tips for dads and partners:
Burp, Change, and Rock the Baby
After feedings is a great time for partners to step in to help with the baby and get some quality time. While burping and changing the baby may not be the most glamorous part of parenting, it needs to be done. Think of this as an opportunity to be involved with your new baby’s wellbeing and to build that secure attachment with them. This will also give moms a chance to use the bathroom, shower, or just take a moment for themselves.
Keep Mom Fed & Hydrated
Breastfeeding burns lots of calories and requires lots of water to maintain. If dehydrated or malnourished, the mother will feel the effects before the baby will, because the body prioritizes allocating those nutrients to keep the baby fed and healthy. That being said, women often feel hungry or thirsty during feedings. Partners can take advantage of this opportunity to bring a nutritious snack and a glass of water. You could even create a little basket with snacks that you keep near the couch, chair, or bed where most feedings take place. Not only will this keep mom healthy, but also grateful for the act of kindness.
Tend to Other Children or Pets
With how often a newborn requires feeding, some women have little time or energy to do anything else. This can be extra challenging when there are other children or even pets in the household. Partners, make it your responsibility to keep the older children or pets entertained. This way mom can feel at ease and focus on feeding the new baby with the knowledge that everyone else is being cared for too.
Emotionally Support Nursing
We mentioned previously that breastfeeding does not come easy for every parent. In fact, many new moms struggle with it. Offer words of encouragement and point it out when they are doing great. If they are struggling, offer to bring in some help from a lactation consultant or another infant feeding professional.
Also, there is a great deal of shame in many cultures regarding breastfeeding in public. If she feels comfortable nursing in public, then support her in this decision!
Give Yourself A Break
Literally and figuratively: you deserve a break! While breastfeeding can be a lot for women, dads and partners are also needing to give a lot more effort on a daily basis. You can’t care for others if you aren’t caring for yourself. Know your own limits and take breaks when you need to. This is a marathon and it requires you to pace yourself.
Get Involved & Plan Ahead
The 6th and final breastfeeding tip for partners is to be a part of the planning process. During the pregnancy, partners should work together to plan for the birth and also the postpartum period. Partners who attend HypnoBirthing classes don’t just learn about birth, but what to expect during the fourth trimester. When you know what to expect, you can better prepare and handle anything that comes your way.