A Partner's Support - The Secret Key to Breastfeeding Success
There are many people that a new mother receives support from, but the support she cherishes most is often received from her partner. Even though breastfeeding is job that has been designated by nature to be done by mom, there are many ways that a partner can step up and approach the breastfeeding relationship with love and encouragement. A partner’s support toward breastfeeding has been shown to increase the duration of breastfeeding. Since breast milk increases baby’s immunity, saves money (up to $1,500 / year!), and even decreases mom’s risk of disease, it isn’t hard to see that breast as long as possible is the best choice.
Here are some practical ways that a partner can be involved with the breastfeeding relationship
a. Be actively involved in all other aspects of feeding. Mom may be the only one who can breastfeed, but you can bring baby to mom when it is showing signs of hunger, burp it after feedings, and change diapers as needed.
b. As soon as you see that she has her hands free while baby is at the breast, bring her a snack (bonus points if it’s healthy) and a big cup of water (preferably with a straw). Breastfeeding requires mom to consume extra calories and to hydrate to keep up with her body’s demands to make milk for your baby.
c. Do other household chores – vacuum, laundry, dishes, dusting, sweeping, dinner preparation. It has been said that a woman will never argue with her partner while they are doing chores. Take initiative to do some things around the house so she isn’t thinking about all of the things she needs to accomplish after taking care of the baby.
a. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Do everything you can to be positive and support her in her choices regarding breastfeeding. Whether she decides to quit after a week or continue into toddlerhood, tell her what a great job she is doing as a mother. Even if it is the middle of the night and she’s getting up (again) to feed the baby, give her a pat on the back and tell her how proud of her you are.
b. Listen. This is by far one of the most important things you can do for her during this time. With hormones fluctuating, lack of sleep, and the newness of a baby, she will be processing a lot of things. Just being ready to hear her and acknowledge what she is saying will enable her to be confident in her choices.
c. Ask her questions about her day. She knows you care, but to actively ask and listen to how many poop diapers she needed to change, or about how the baby didn’t nap, shows her that you think what she did that day is important.
a. Support out and about looks like this: If mom is comfortable doing it, you will support her as she does. She has every right to breastfeed in public or nurse her baby at your parent’s house and by standing up for her if she is questioned, you reinforce that what she is doing is best.
b. Be a gatekeeper. You are the best person to help mom determine who can visit, when, and how long they stay. Breastfeeding can be hard at first so it is important that mom feels comfortable feeding in front of whomever is there. Also, Aunt Maude may have done things very differently and isn’t afraid to emphatically share that information. Kindly ask those who aren’t 100% supportive to come back at another time or to leave the room. If you aren’t able to be there and she is having a hard day, have someone to call that can come over and provide the support she needs. The less stress on mom, the easier she can feed baby.
c. Brag about her. Everyone in a relationship likes to hear how awesome they are! Tell your friends, her family, and your family what a great job she is doing, how amazing she is, and how proud of her you are! Feeding is one of the most important things for a new baby. There are so many things that partners can do to support mom and baby as they venture into this new territory. The most important thing is to show her you care and tell her how much you love watching her parent your baby. You have the biggest role to play in making sure that mom and baby get off to a strong start with breastfeeding!
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