One of my favorite things to do when educating families on breastfeeding is to make sure to include the support person! I try to do this as much as possible for several reasons. One of the most important ones being that that particular person is the person who will continue to assist and support the breastfeeding parent. While it may seem as though the person who is actually breastfeeding is the only one that can do the job, there are also several ways for the partner to help as well. I’m sharing 5 ways that your partner can assist you on your breastfeeding journey!
1. Attend a breastfeeding class together
I know that this may seem boring or like a chore but it’s so helpful! While working in the hospital, I’ve spoken with several knowledgeable fathers that were able to remember tidbits from breastfeeding classes. These dads also remembered little pieces of info that their spouses didn’t. Having someone help you to remember little pieces of breastfeeding info takes a little bit of the mental drain off of a freshly recovering you. This tip is a great way to get your partner to help on your breastfeeding journey.
2. Assist with positioning and obtaining the correct latch
During any instruction on correct latch and positioning, I try my best to ask the support person to come and observe what is being done. Because I won’t be with the families in their biggest time of need (example: late night clusterfeeding!), I think it’s vital for the support person to be able to help maintain a deep, comfortable latch. As the person doing the assisting during the feeding, I like to say that I have the “bird’s eye view”. From above, I can see so much more than I can in the nursing parent’s position. So, I try to remind the support person to get the bird’s eye view and help the breastfeeding parent see what isn’t being seen.
Another way to assist with positioning is to bring and organize the props. For the parents that have to feed with several pillows or assistance devices (ex: nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems), have your partner assemble all of those things for you.
3. Take sleeping shifts (if possible)
A lot of parents ask me “so when do we sleep?”. Honestly, every family is different and I always advocate for doing whatever works the best for each member of your family especially in regards to sleep. As we all know, babies cry a lot and they often refuse to sleep in a bassinet. In these moments, already sleep-deprived parents become more exhausted and unsure of what to do next. All of this correlates with breastfeeding due to the nature of those nighttime feedings. I always encouraged parents to take shifts sleeping if at all possible. One parent will spend time with the baby, either feeding or consoling. Meanwhile, the other parent sleeps. And vice-versa.
Side note, I’m in no way saying to skip the night time feeding. Skipping a feeding does have the potential to negatively impact your milk supply. I’m simply saying after you have fed the baby, get some sleep while your partner takes care of the baby.
4. Show support in a way most respectful to the breastfeeding parent
This should be an easy one. Once upon a time, I read an article that basically stated that one of a key components in determining the length of time a person spends breastfeeding is the support of their partner. Obviously, this means being supportive of the breastfeeding parent’s feelings and decisions. Support can be shown in words of encouragement or advocating for the mother when she is unable to do so.
Examples include: cheering your partner on, celebrating the little wins (even if you don’t understand them), watching and listening to the lactation consultant during a feeding.
5. Offer assistance related to breastfeeding or pumping
This is definitely an easy one! If your partner is breastfeeding exclusively, several small tasks can make feedings easier. You can offer to change the baby prior to the feedings or burp the baby post feedings. Bringing snacks, a cup of water, a cell phone or charger (you know, the breastfeeding essentials…) can be a huge help. If your partner is pumping, you can offer to do all of the bottle feedings. It would also be absolutely incredible to clean, dry, and store the pump parts!
Well, there ya have it!
I hope this post answered the question of how to get your partner to help your breastfeeding journey!
In what ways has your partner been helpful for you?! Comment below and share the love!