It’s no mystery that when it comes to feeding a baby, there is no better natural food than breast milk. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office states breastfed babies are less likely to develop a disease, while breastfeeding mothers experience a better quality of life after giving birth, including decreased chances for depression, and fewer health risks such as ovarian cancer, Type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis and even breast cancer.
With all these benefits, partners of breastfeeding moms should be compelled to do all they can to help a nursing mom succeed. Providing the proper support to a breastfeeding mother is essential to a parent partnership, and fathers who learn proper ways to support their partner can experience the benefit of having a healthy, happy family in the long run.
Here are some ways you, as a partner, can support breastfeeding in your family.
1. Wear your baby
Seize every opportunity to “wear” your baby. This promotes a close bond between babies in parents. When your partner is resting after a feeding session, volunteer to wear the baby while she rests. Your baby can actually feel soothed when you carry him, simply because you don’t smell like mom’s milk, which often excites little babies!
2. Help with the housework
I remember the first two months of motherhood being the most difficult. I went through a slight depression, and I had trouble getting my baby to latch, resulting in a development of mastitis, inflammation of the mammary gland in the breast or udder, in my left breast. During this time, my husband was forced to cook, learn how to bathe our son, do the housework I couldn’t do, and be a “domestic hero” in his own right.
Be supportive to your breastfeeding partner by volunteering to do the housework and caring for the baby. Make an effort to be home as much as possible, especially in the first two months, which are the most crucial for a mom who is developing a breastfeeding relationship with her child.
3. Take the night shift
A breastfeeding mom actually gets more sleep than moms who don’t breastfeed. Still, she needs to get good quality sleep. As a partner, support breastfeeding by volunteering to care for the baby during the night. This is usually advisable after your partner has developed a steady milk supply (usually after 1-2 months) that will allow her to express milk for occasional bottle feeds.
Encourage your partner to express breast milk for night feedings, and volunteer to take a shift during the night. This will help your partner get a few extra hours of sleep, even if you only do this for a few nights a week. (Don’t forget to burp your child after giving him milk, and change his diaper before putting him back to bed.)
4. Don’t demand intimacy
After the birth, don’t expect a breastfeeding mom to be all gung-ho about “getting it on” too soon. As a new dad, your job is to understand your breastfeeding partner. It’s normal for her to not want sex or intimacy, as she might feel tired quite often from feeding, carrying and caring for the baby almost all hours of the day. During this time, find ways to make her feel comfortable; look for other ways to touch each other and be close, such as giving her a soothing massage; be open to new ways of expressing your desire for closeness while still putting her needs first.
5. Seek help when it’s needed
If you find your breastfeeding mom is experiencing some difficulties related to nursing, gently encourage her to seek help. Having the right information and approaching it proactively as a couple can help you both support breastfeeding in your family. Seeking the help of a lactation consultant may be in order in some cases. Hiring extra house help may help alleviate some of the stress of the early days of parenthood, too. Just remember that — no matter what your breastfeeding partner needs — you need to be committed to making things work out.
About Martine De Luna
I'm a freelance writer, editor, blogger and former preschool teacher. Married with one kid, I'm a work-at-home mom, but most of all, a mom-in-the-works. I'm a work in progress, and I believe that living intentionally day by day will help me become the best mom for my child.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts (41)