Supporting your partner’s decision to breastfeed and giving her lots of encouragement especially in the early days is so important. Research has shown women are more likely to keep breastfeeding if they have a supportive partner. Ciara Butler, IBCLC, vice president of the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland, gives tips for partners on supporting baby breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed your baby, but it is still a skill that needs to be learned by mum and baby. Partner support during this steep learning curve is paramount. So what can partners do to support breastfeeding? A few things actually!
Go to a breastfeeding class
Many couples feel that these are for the mums only but it is really helpful for partners to learn about breastfeeding.
The information in these classes will prepare partners for some of the challenges that they might be faced with. Partners are often the ones who remember more of the information, particularly in the early days.
Keep visitors at bay
After the baby is born new mums can be overwhelmed with exhaustion. Visitors can add to this therefore, it’s the partner’s job to keep the visitors at bay! Try to ensure that there is quiet time and time for sleep.
While the visitors are there, watch for the baby’s feeding cues and if your partner is not comfortable feeding in front of them, ask them nicely to leave.
Help around the house
Tending to household chores, keeping washing underway and shopping is very helpful; this allows your partner to focus on the baby. Also ensure that there is healthy nutritious food ready for whenever she needs it.
Support her if difficulties arise
If she is having any difficulties listen and support her. Be sure to know where to get help, and encourage her to do so. There is lots of breastfeeding support available i.e. PHN, La Leche League, Cuidui or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
How can partners bond with their baby?
- Wear your baby in a sling, take them for a short walk to give your partner a rest, or just rock them in it.
- Partners can do skin to skin too, enjoy your new baby by lying them on your chest and reading to them or just soak them all up!
- Changing your baby’s nappy is a great way to bond with them, in the early days. Newborns tend to cry a lot during nappy change, but soon it becomes a big game for everyone involved!
- Bathing your baby is a wonderful thing to share, after a few weeks you can bathe together and this is always a special way to bond with your baby.
- Soothing cuddling and winding your baby after or between feeds gives your partner a break and allows for more cuddles from you.
Your new baby has so many needs, feeding is only one of them. Bonding comes from special time spent together from the beginning. Remember to praise your partner and the wonderful job she is doing, giving your baby the best possible start in life.
Over to you now. Do you have tips for partners for supporting breastfeeding? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments below.