The New-dad’s Guide to Supporting Their Breastfeeding Partner
Although written for fathers, this article is intended for anyone who is a support to the new mom. Husbands, partners, boyfriends, girlfriends and family members are all included.
Waiting for the Baby
Are you a dad-to-be who’s wife is planning to breastfeed? Do you think that breastfeeding is something a woman does alone? Think again. One of the most important factors in determining whether a woman breastfeeds is the support of her partner. Here are some things you can do before the baby is even born that will help ensure that everyone gets off to a good start.
Remind the mom-to-be that you know what breasts are for and how amazing she is. Let her know that you appreciate that she wants to give your baby the best possible start in life. Marvel out loud that not only can she nourish the developing fetus with her placenta, she can also nourish your baby with her breasts.
Go to a prenatal breastfeeding class with your partner. Listen. Take notes. Ask questions.
Read about breastfeeding. Learn the facts. Dr. William Sears and Dr. Jack Newman are authors that dads tend to enjoy. Taking the initiative will earn you bonus points!
Surprise your wife with some beautiful nursing pajamas. (The shirt will have openings to enable easy access to her breasts.)
Everyone you meet will have an opinion about breastfeeding. Counter any criticism with confidence.
Interview pediatricians and do some research to find breastfeeding-friendly doctors in your area.
Ask friends, neighbors and healthcare providers about recommended lactation consultants. Talk to them or send them an email. Get a sense of who they are. Have a name or two on hand and bring their phone numbers to the hospital or birthing center.
Arrange for meals and other support from family/friends/neighbors for the first 6 weeks or so. This is even more important if you will be returning to work soon after the birth.
Learn why breastfeeding is important to the mother of your baby. Have confidence in her and be proud of her choice!
You have attended breastfeeding classes, interviewed pediatricians and maybe even read a book or two about breastfeeding. Now the baby is here! What can you do to contribute to breastfeeding success? Here are some ideas to help you support your partner.
Continue to let her know that she is doing a great job. Acknowledge that she is uniquely qualified to breastfeed her baby.
Make sure she gets enough rest! Remind her that she is recovering from birth (and surgery if she’s had a c-section), she is not getting a full night’s sleep and she is making milk for another human being. An excellent guideline is “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Make sure YOU get enough rest! (See guideline above.) You won’t be much help if you’re exhausted.
If she’s having a hard day, listen! Remind her that there will be bumps along the way. Remind her of the reasons that she chose breastfeeding. Ask her what she needs from you. She probably doesn’t want you to tell her to quit breastfeeding.
Limit visitors to 15 minutes or so. One visit per day.
Encourage her to stay in her jammies. Visitors won’t linger if mom isn’t dressed for entertaining.
Give her shoulder or foot rubs.
Ask her if there is anything that is driving her crazy or making her feel stressed—then fix it.
Make sure she is physically supported when breastfeeding with pillows, etc.
If she meets with a lactation consultant for breastfeeding help, attend the meeting with her. Ask questions. Take notes.
Bring her a nutritious snack or meal every few hours. You know what she likes. No need to ask a lot of questions.
If you haven’t already done so, arrange for meals from friends every other day or so for a few weeks.
Tell her she is beautiful and amazing.
Remember how important you are as the protector of this mother/baby unit!
You don’t have to live in Seattle to receive expert guidance from our resident lactation consultant. Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC, is available for phone consultations for moms anywhere. You may reach her at www.second9months.com. Send her an email and she’ll call you the same day to set up a “meeting.” She will help you develop a customized plan for meeting your baby’s needs while you’re at work or school.