Partners play a very important role in supporting breastfeeding. One of the most significant predictors of how long a woman breastfeeds is the support she gets (or doesn’t get) from her partner. Sometimes partners are concerned that they will not be able to bond with the baby as much if they are not directly involved in feeding. We suggest that there are many ways to bond with the baby, and supporting the best nutrition and comfort available is certainly one of them. Here we offer tips on how to be involved in breastfeeding and to support the breastfeeding relationship between your partner and child.
v Be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. Know why exclusive breastfeeding is important for your partner and baby. Understanding why breastfeeding is so important will encourage you to support the breastfeeding relationship.
v Bond with your baby through cuddling, kissing, skin-to-skin contact, rocking and playing. Make diaper changes fun by playing games and bonding with your baby.
v Become involved in breastfeeding. Support the breastfeeding relationship by caring for your partner. Help her remember to stay nourished and hydrated. You can also participate by bringing her the baby when it’s time to eat and having a family cuddle session during and after feeding. Offer to burp the baby after nursing.
v Facilitate a household that is conducive to breastfeeding. Try to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere. Care for older children so that your partner can focus on breastfeeding. Organize with family and friends home-cooked or takeout meals to alleviate the stress of cooking.
v Have breastfeeding resources on hand. Be prepared for difficulty and plan to overcome challenges with good breastfeeding books and websites, support groups and lactation professionals. You may be the first person your partner turns to in times of difficulty so be prepared to offer sound advice and resources to continue breastfeeding.
v Talk to your family (parents) and others about your decision to breastfeed. If they are not supportive, take measures to protect the breastfeeding relationship.
v Support your partner breastfeeding in public. Exclusive breastfeeding means the baby will need to eat when you are outside the home.
v Be knowledgeable about managing breast milk. If you will be feeding the baby pumped breast milk, learn about milk storage and use milk wisely.
v Be the emotional support your partner will need during (and after) breastfeeding. Provide her with your encouragement by telling her she is doing a good job, give her a hug and tell her you love her.
v The simplest of things can often times be the best things. Give your breastfeeding partner the chance to take a shower, or relax in a warm bath, hand her the remote, make her a cup of tea, do some household chores without being asked, and/or get the diaper bag ready if you’re going out.
v You have a special place in your baby’s life, so don’t feel left out. Your role in supporting this breastfeeding relationship is imperative to the happiness and well-being of your family.