My husband was away the first few weeks after I had my son. I remember that we would sometimes argue and end up not speaking for a while because I was on edge and he was completely clueless about what I was going through those few weeks. Sure, I had my mum, yet I yearned for him to be there with me. If only to get me my favourite ice cream combo so I could feel a bit better. Without a doubt, breastfeeding in the early weeks post-partum are one of the toughest and having your partner’s support can make things a whole lot better.
Here are ten ways that your partner can help support you through breastfeeding:
- Wave the ‘Nay-sayers’ Goodbye! For quite a number of first time mums, the first few weeks are fraught with uncertainty. You and your little one are just starting to get to know each other and find a rhythm as regards feeding. This is not a time to tell a breastfeeding mum that ‘her milk isn’t enough’ or that ‘she can’t possibly breastfeed exclusively’. A mother’s intuition is very strong and she no doubt, senses when something isn’t as it should. Allow her to grow into her motherly role confidently and seek guidance on her own terms. Your partner can help wade away all sources of negativity.
Top 10 Ways Your Partner Can Support In Breastfeeding
- Skin to Skin: This one’s a favourite of mine. Skin to skin helps to regulate baby’s breathing, temperature and heart rate. It helps to relax and calm baby, promote bonding and helps with oxygen saturation amongst other things. It is a perfect way for your partner and baby to bond together. Dad can hold baby skin to skin for a while so mama can get some rest.
- Keep visitors at bay: when I had my son, I remember a friend of the family came to say hi. She came with her teenage son. I’d just had a Caesarean section, I was in pain, I was gassy and uncomfortable and I was in a hospital gown. Some hospital gowns are open at the back. Unfortunately, I was wearing one like that. I needed to pee really bad during the visit but I kept hoping they’d leave soon. Fortunately, my mum noticed my discomfort and politely shooed them out. This is one thing your partner could really help out with. In fact, he could delay telling people outside of family about the baby till you’re comfortable enough to receive guests. Or even better, your partner can insist that you’re currently unable to receive guests and save you the hassle of my ordeal. This gives you more time for you and baby to find your own rhythm.
- Be a Helper: remember how I wished my husband was there to get me ice cream? Yea. Dads can help support breastfeeding by identifying mum’s need and helping with them. The first three months post-partum aka ‘the fourth trimester’ can be such a blur for mum. Mum is definitely not getting as much sleep as she’d like and she’ll need you to help out with stuff. Like laundry, diaper change, holding the baby for a while, picking up some groceries, order take out or maybe even cook or possibly even hiring help so she isn’t overwhelmed. Her focus during this period will be on the baby. Your focus should be on her! The less time she spends worrying on the other stuff, the more time she has to get breastfeeding right!
- Encourage her! This is very important. I would never have been able to get through the first week of breastfeeding if I dint have my mum and my friends cheering me on. I had sore nipples, engorgement felt like I had rocks permanently tied to my chest and it was so painful each time we had to feed. My experience isn’t solitary. A lot of mums go through this and some days, all you’ll need to keep you going is someone giving you a massage or a back rub and telling you that ‘You’ve Got This!’.
- Be Informed: if your baby isn’t here yet, attend prenatal classes with her. Book a prenatal breastfeeding consult that you can both attend. The best way you can provide support to your partner is by being informed so you can help with challenges that may arise.
- Burp the baby: this is one activity I particularly don’t enjoy doing especially with night feeds. Helping Mama with this will give her more time for other activities including sleep. It’s also a good way for you both to bond.
- Ask if she’s okay: Mothering can be hard and you being concerned about mama’s feelings reassures her of your feelings for her and acknowledges the stuff she may be going through.
- Tell her she’s beautiful and that you love her: This one’s a bonus but will definitely keep your love bank full. A lot of physical and emotional changes happen with birth and breastfeeding. a lot of times, mums are unaware of these changes and may grapple with their appearance some times. She’ll need you at those times to reassure her. Be there!
- Find a trusted Community: Being the non – breastfeeding parent may sometimes feel lonely. Your relationship dynamics may change and you may find yourself bottling in some resentment about the shift of attention. This is normal and even expected. Talking to others who’ve been through similar situations can help you work through your emotions so you don’t take it out on the new mum. Know that you are not alone and that effective communication free of anger and judgement with your spouse can do wonders for your relationship. Often times, mum’s entire focus is on the newborn and she’s completely oblivious to what you may be going through.
That’s it! My very best tips on how partners can help support mums through breastfeeding. if you’d like to book a prenatal breastfeeding consult, please click here. Feel free to drop questions, comments in the comment box below or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org