5 Ways Your Partner Can Support Your Breastfeeding Efforts
Breastfeeding, while natural, is not as easy as one may think. Sure, breasts are made to feed babies, and our babies are made to feed, but when it comes to getting the hang of it all and getting through the tough beginnings, it's far from easy.
I was able to breastfeed my third child until just before her third birthday and currently going strong breastfeeding my now 8-month-old. I have loved the bond breastfeeding forms with my children, and it's a comforting thought to me that my body works and is able to give them the nourishment they need. I know that my (personally defined) success at breastfeeding was in part thanks to my husband, who believed in me, supported our efforts, and helped out where he could.
If you're worried the feeding-the-baby aspect of parenting is going to be all on you since you're breastfeeding, there are ways your partner can get involved through supporting you and aiding in meeting your own personally defined breastfeeding goals.
1. Ensure you have water and snacks nearby
When you're breastfeeding, especially in the early weeks, you get all kinds of hungry, and keeping hydrated is very important for your milk production. Your partner can help support you by making sure you have snacks (almonds were my favorites!) and water available and in reach–bonus points if he brings the TV remote, too.
2. Educate themselves on the how-tos, common issues, and traps.
With breastfeeding, there are a lot of initial questions from getting the correct latch to what is or isn't safe while breastfeeding. When I was in the hospital, with my fresh newborn only days old, I was being pushed into using formula, because my baby, already small, had lost 10% of his body weight. My husband, who was educated on normal-baby birth weights and breastfeeding, stood his ground with me when we said we were going to wait until my milk came in. Because of his support in this, we were able to make the nurses back off a bit when it came to the formula push, and of course, three days after his birth when my milk came in, he was thriving and growing perfectly, just as we thought.
Even though I had breastfed before, I swear those first six weeks of it feels a little like torture, and it's easy to want to stop. From the sore, chapped nipples to the mega tired moments, breastfeeding is not easy. My husband listened to me complain and swear after the painful latches, and having his ear–to tell me he hears me and loves me and we will get through it–made all the difference to me.
4. Run to the store when you need nipple butter, pads, etc.
My husband was in charge of obtaining my pregnancy cravings at all cost, and when the baby was born and I needed to feed him, it was his job to make sure I had all I needed to be comfortable and happy. Yes, this means he had to run to the store for new nipple butter, breast pads, and even picked up a nursing bra or two. It's a great way he was able to support my breastfeeding efforts because it wasn't all on me, and he knew as well as I did that these tools would aid in my comfort. And comfort is key when breastfeeding.
5. Encourage them to seek professional support if they need it.
I am thankful that I didn't need professional support while I nursed my two younger children, but had both my husband and I known more while I was trying to breastfeed my older two children, we may have had a better go at it. If you're struggling with getting enough milk, the right latch, or any other common breastfeeding issues, having your partner support your desire to get professional help from a qualified lactation consultant and not pushing you into it or deterring your desire to seek it can be a great support when things aren't going as smoothly as you'd hoped.
What are some tips you have for how families and partners can help support breastfeeding?