Supporting your wife/partner while she breastfeeds
Congratulations on your new baby! If your partner is breastfeeding, the single most important thing family members can do is affirm and support that decision in any way they can.
Ways to support a breastfeeding mother:
- Learn about breastfeeding
- Talk with your partner about breastfeeding.
- Does she have breastfeeding goals in mind yet?
- What kind of help does she think she may want from you?
- Is there anything she’s worried about?
- If she will be returning to work:
- She’ll need to talk to her employer, ideally before the birth. Does she want your help thinking or planning for that?
- Help find childcare that is breastfeeding-friendly.
- Breast-pumps and equipment create daily chores. Some partners make it their job to clean the pump and freeze the milk each night and get things ready for the morning.
- Talk with your parents about breastfeeding. Learning about their experiences and your own history can be very interesting.
- Were you breastfed? If not, this might be new or uncomfortable for them.
- Once you have educated yourself about the benefits of breastfeeding, educate them!
- You can have a big supporting role by preparing the grandparents to be positive and respectful of your family’s feeding choices. We know a lot more now about the importance of breastfeeding than we did when they were having babies. Every generation does their best with the information and resources available.
Practical ways to help:
When the baby is hungry, bring them to mama as soon as possible. Early hunger cues include salivating, rooting (turning head and opening mouth) and sucking on hands. Crying is a late hunger that should be avoided.
- Help arrange pillows or otherwise get mama comfortable.
- Bring mama a glass of water and a snack.
- Encourage and help her to sleep when the baby sleeps, especially in the early weeks.
- Welcome diaper changes and bathing times as a chance to interact, care for and bond with your baby while helping the new mama get some needed rest.
- See the Family Guide to Bonding With Your Breastfed Baby section of this website for more ideas.
- Help with the household and older children.
- Let mama know often that she is doing a good job, that you appreciate she’s doing something special.
- If something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and call for help.
- Breastfeeding is not easy, but it should get easier over time.
- Mothering is not easy either, but if mama seems excessively teary, she may benefit from talking to a friend, peer counselor or professional.
- Remember that you also need rest breaks.