As a dad myself, I know that a partner’s support can make a massive difference to anyone’s experience of breastfeeding.
Taken from Amy Brown’s book, published by Pinter & Martin ltd, here is some advice on how a partner can help:
Top 10 ways for partners to help
1. Feed the mother. This might mean literally cutting up and putting the food in her mouth for her as she feeds the baby. It might mean cooking meals that can be eaten one-handed. Or it might mean leaving healthy (and let’s face it, not so healthy) snacks in the fridge for her that she can eat during the day without having to prepare them – again, ideally one-handed.
2. Do the housework. No brainer. She will spend what seems like 25 hours a day feeding the baby. Let her have a break from everything else.
3. Be her advocate with health professionals. Ask the questions she is just too shattered to ask, or feels suddenly too emotionally vulnerable to ask. Research the questions you have.
4. Hold the baby between feeds. Watch out for feeding cues and pass her the baby straight away. Take the baby for a short walk if she wants (but only if she wants).
5. If she’s immobile or sore after the birth, get up and pick the baby up for her and put them back after so she doesn’t have to lift the baby or move. This is a particularly good tip in the days following a c-section.
6. Fend off too many visits from friends and family. It is ok to be the visit police. Some mums love nothing more than loads of friends, family, neighbours and the lady from the local shop popping in as soon as they are back from hospital. Great. You can organise making sure they aren’t all demanding to hold the baby while your partner ends up making endless rounds of tea. But if she doesn’t? It’s ok to tell people to come back in a week/month/next lifetime. Or to just stay for 20 minutes. Kind, caring human beings will understand.
7. Hold her. There will be bad times – days, or maybe even weeks – when she will look at you and sob that she can’t do it any more (usually while continuing to do it). Never underestimate the power of a hug.
8. Be on her side. Know that she wants to breastfeed, so be her breastfeeding champion and help her do this. This might mean talking to other people about their comments and why breastfeeding is important to you as a family. It might be giving her some encouragement if she wavers. It definitely means not criticising her choices and doing what you can to be supportive, even when it looks like a challenge.
9. Help her practically with tasks such as expressing, sterilising a pump, storing breastmilk etc if needed. Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t straightforward and there are things to be done. Help out where you can.
10. Be proud of her. Boost her confidence. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Just like the hug, never underestimate the power of hearing that your partner loves you, thinks you’re great and is really proud of the tricky new thing you are doing. This can turn an exhausting never-ending night into a good one.
Amy Brown will be at our Real Baby Milk Conference in January and Pinter & Martin ltd will be there to sell Amy’s latest book and the rest of their range of books on parenting and breastfeeding.