If your partner is exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you could be forgiven at times for feeling like a bit of a spare part. It’s your partner whom the baby gets passed to when they start to cry, it’s your partner who has to respond to exclamations of ‘she’s hungry’ and it’s your partner who rolls out of bed for the 15th time during the night when your baby wakes… again.
It’s worth remembering, however, that whilst your partner may be the one physically feeding your baby, there are lots of other practical ways you can support your partner and be a key part of their breastfeeding journey. Here’s how you can help:
- Burp your baby post feed
Contrary to popular belief, breastfed babies can and do get trapped wind and gas, and as such, it is still recommended that you burp your baby after every feed. You can help your partner by taking responsibility for burping your baby after they’ve nursed. Not only will this help your partner to get readjusted and comfortable after a feed but can be a great bonding experience for you and your baby too. Have your partner pass your baby across to you after a feed and let them relax whilst you manage the rest. You can hold your baby on your knee and pat their back to bring up any trapped wind or gas, or may even prefer to lie them on your chest and benefit from some skin-to-skin contact.
- Help settle your baby
Breastfeeding can be exhausting, particularly during those night feeds when your partner desperately wants to sleep. If your baby is still waking regularly during the night, you can share the mental load by helping your partner settle your baby back to sleep, whether that’s a gentle rock, some soothing or simply getting them calm and comfortable before placing them back in their crib. This also allows your partner to get some much-needed shut-eye between feeds, safe in the knowledge that your baby’s needs are being met. It’s a small ask, but literally, every minute counts when you’re living in the newborn breastfeeding haze.
- Bring on the snacks
During those early newborn days, breastfeeding can be fairly relentless and with cluster feeding and small intervals between feeds, it’s really important your partner stays hydrated and keeps her energy levels up – she needs to look after herself too. You can help your partner simply by bringing them a drink or snack whilst they nurse; a simple act that will be appreciated far more than you might realise! For extra brownie points, make her a special smoothie – packed full of fruit and a natural energy boost.
- Offer reassurance and encouragement
Do not underestimate the power of your words. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Say thank you. Breastfeeding comes with quite a responsibility and at times, can feel like a fairly thankless task. Showing your partner how proud you are of her and reminding her that she’s giving your baby an amazing start in life can help get her through those more challenging days. That emotional support is worth its weight in gold.
- Do your research
Breastfeeding isn’t without its challenges and during your partner’s breastfeeding journey they may experience some difficult days, coping with issues such as engorgement, breast refusal, cracked nipples or even mastitis.
Researching some of the most common breastfeeding challenges and how you can overcome them, can enable you to support your partner through any significant bumps in the road.
- Keep her company
Last but not least, breastfeeding can be a lonely gig. It’s all too common for nursing mothers to sit alone in a dark nursery, nursing room or hide themselves away whilst they breastfeed. Why not ask if she wants some company? Even having you physically close and showing her that you’re there if she needs you can be a huge act of kindness.
Do not underestimate the impact of your support. As the saying goes ‘Teamwork makes the dream work!’