posted in Parenting
I have a running buddy who will be welcoming his first child next month. On our runs, we’ve bonded over the cool and weird things about pregnancy from our different perspectives, and I’ve also learned his wife plans on breastfeeding their little one. Having nursed three children, I’ve fought the urge to spew unsolicited breastfeeding-related advice vomit in his direction. So instead, I’ll redirect my energy in a way that might help parents-to-be who are actually seeking advice.
Here are 9 ways new parents can help their breastfeeding partners:
1) Diaper duty: What I appreciated the most in those early breastfeeding days was my husband jumping in to take on the bulk of diaper changes when he was home. Since he couldn’t physically feed our baby with his body, it seemed like a fair arrangement that he dealt with the output while I focused on mastering the input — breastfeeding! I definitely wasn’t sad about skipping those first, tar-like poop diapers.
2) Meals: Acquire them. Whether it’s ordering a pizza, re-heating freezer meals you made ahead or cooking something yummy at home, just do it. Because chances are, that new breastfeeding mom is ravenous. (At least I was!) Her body is healing from childbirth and working overtime to produce milk, so any meals you can just sit in front of her are amazing. It’s one less thing to worry about while she’s getting used to feeding a tiny human with her body.
3) Snacks: All of them. Like I said, producing milk works up an appetite. Make sure the breastfeeding mom in your life has a stockpile of healthy snacks. Fresh fruit, granola bars, oatmeal, cheese, snack-size portions of veggies — whatever can be easily grabbed and consumed from her favorite nursing spot.
4) Make sure her water bottle is fresh and filled: I was soooo thirsty after having my babies — and that giant bottle with a straw they give you at the hospital is perfect to keep using once you’re home. New partners, help keep that thing filled with fresh ice water. It’s a little gesture that can go a long way in making breastfeeding easier for new moms. (Not to mention, staying properly hydrated is important for keeping up a nursing mama’s milk supply.)
5) Burping: Once the mama is done filling her baby up, a partner can get some snuggles in while gently patting the baby’s back to help release gas bubbles. Now Mom can eat the food you heated for her, hop in the shower, or change her lochia-saturated pad while your little one burps.
6) Baths: For us, baths were another opportunity for my husband to get in bonding time with our always-on-the-boob babies. I could spend time with my other kiddos while he was cleaning up the baby, or just enjoy a chunk of time that didn’t involve holding our newborn.
7) Wrangle older kids: Something else I appreciated my husband doing with our second and third children was playing with/taking our older kid(s) out of the house to do something fun while I focused on breastfeeding and resting. Helping my baby get an efficient latch was less stressful when our other kids weren’t going stir-crazy at home.
8) Help control the flow of visitors: This is especially important if the breastfeeding mom is feeling overwhelmed, or the mom and/or baby is struggling with feedings. I may just be a weirdo, but I was basically topless the first couple weeks of breastfeeding. (It seemed like my babies were on the boob around the clock anyway, so it was just easier that way.) A new mom might be self-conscious at first about nursing in front of friends and family, especially when her baby is trying to master this whole nursing business. If you sense she needs some privacy or is overwhelmed by a constant stream of visitors, check in and see if you can help direct the traffic flow.
9) Listen and support: Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially during those first few weeks. Listen to her worries and frustrations. Help out in any way you can. Let her know you support her, and that you’re proud of how hard she’s working to feed your child. Words of encouragement can mean so much during this huge life adjustment.
You’ve got this, partners of breastfeeding moms!
What tips would you offer to partners of breastfeeding moms? What did your partner do to support breastfeeding?
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