Too often when a breastfeeding journey is spoken about we think of a mama and her child feeding, the strong bond it can provide, and the challenges that they may face along the way. Sometimes partners can feel a bit left out in this scenario but that needn’t be the case. In fact, partners can play a crucial role in a successful breastfeeding journey. So how best can partners help support breastfeeding?
In it together from the start
Not long after finding out I was pregnant the discussion around how we would feed our baby began. I expected my partner to go with the flow but it was quite the opposite. He was passionate about me trying to breastfeed in the most loving way. He knew I wanted to try it and he made it clear he would support me. We had both done our research and knew all the benefits breastfeeding could provide for us as a family.
I was also aware of how it isn’t always smooth sailing and that I would need him as my support during the early weeks whilst we established ourselves. We bought a steriliser, bottles, and a tiny bottle of formula just in case. We spoke about my partner potentially not feeding our baby until she was 6 months and we were ready to give it our all. We sat tight and hoped our baby would cooperate with our plans.
My delivery date arrived, a planned c-section and into my arms Phoebe came. She head bobbed her way to the breast and we were off. You can read more of my birth and early breastfeeding story here.
Encouraging & supportive at every stage
We are now 14 months into breastfeeding and I know that this would of been a lot more difficult without the support of my partner. He’s had a tough ride with all the running around whilst I’m tied to the sofa with sweet cravings, extreme thirst and a baby totally dependant on my milk. He has been my physical cover up on days when we needed to feed in public and I wanted to be discreet.
He has also supported my decision to keep on feeding in a society where breastfeeding past a certain age can be seen as ‘weird.’ I definitely think being on the same page about breastfeeding from early on it helped us in our journey together as new parents.
Breastfeeding is a team effort where no player should be overlooked.
6 ways a partner can help support breastfeeding
Sometimes we forget how little gestures can make a significant impact on someone’s day. It’s these ‘little’ things that can go a long way to supporting and encouraging a person to continue breastfeeding.
Here are a number of ways that partners can be a token of support for their breastfeeding partner.
Breastfeeding uses up a lot of energy and can make mamas super hungry and thirsty! As she sits down for a feed, make sure she has a snack and some water close at hand. Cluster feeding sessions, in particular, can be hard going for mamas so if you wanted to surprise her with her favourite treat, now is the time! You might also want to cook a yummy meal to help keep her energy and spirits up (bonus points if she can eat it one-handed whilst feeding baby!).
In the early days of breastfeeding everything can be a blur and feeding sessions can sometimes be uncomfortable. Being able to help her position and latch baby comfortably, can be a really practical way to support her. If you’re not sure about the different breastfeeding positions, take a look at this visual guide.
Changing nappies and doing other things to care for your baby (like giving them a bath and burping them) can be a real help to a new mama who is tired and could use 15 minute of alone time! It can also mean one-on-one time with your baby and a chance to chat and sing to them and build a bond together.
Breastfeeding sessions can be long and tiring (especially with a newborn). It can also be lonely time for many mamas, so remember to spend time with her and talk to her. Let her know you are there, and ask her if there is anything that can be done to help. This can also be a great time to binge watch any programmes you have been wanting to watch together.
Tell her she’s doing an amazing job, not just at 3am when she’s exhausted and crying, but in those moments where she’s feeding in public for the first time or when she’s reached a breastfeeding milestone (yes, boobie milestones are a thing and a massive deal!). This can make her feel valued and give her a much-needed boost to her confidence.
Remember, you’ve just had a baby too! In between helping mama and baby make sure you have your time to unwind and do something that you enjoy. It’s important that you look after yourself so you have the energy to give back.
Breastfeeding is a team effort where no player should be overlooked. As my partner recently said “I haven’t really done much to help” I looked at him shocked. He had completely underestimated everything he had done over the last 14 months so here is my little shoutout to all the partners at the back, I see you and thank you!