When you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby, the idea of you as the sole provider for your new baby’s nutrition may seem a bit overwhelming. However, it doesn’t need to be the case! Your partner can play a key support role in your breastfeeding process.
In your first days postpartum, having help to make the most of “lying in” should be a number one priority. “Lying in” means the days or weeks following delivery where you and your baby are breastfeeding, bonding, doing skin-to-skin, and little else. Your partner can help make this transition easier with a few simple acts:
Prepping your breastfeeding space:
Initially, you’ll want a space that is most comfortable for you to focus on lying in. Having your partner help prep with breastfeeding essentials in between breastfeeding sessions will be incredibly helpful as you get into a rhythm with your baby.
- Ready-to-go snacks and water: being sure that you’re hydrated and fed will allow the same for your baby. Having a water bottle at each breastfeeding space in your house, along with a few easy snacks like protein bars, nuts, or fruits will give you the ability to eat along with your baby.
- Nursing pads: whether you’re using washable or disposable nursing pads, keeping them nearby and making sure that they’re clean will make the post-feeding snuggles much easier Tip: If you’re nursing pads are wet, it’s a good idea to change them.
- Nipple balm: keeping organic nipple balm nearby will provide some new mom nipple TLC. Reapply after feedings as needed. As both you and your baby learn the best ways to nurse, you’ll be grateful to have this balm..
- Any medications or dressing changes necessary following delivery: your partner will be able to help administer medications or help to change dressings while you’re in the breastfeeding zone. This is especially helpful if you’ve had cesarean or a particularly hard labor - let them help you!
- Heating and cooling therapy pillows: your partner will be able to stick these in the freezer or pop them in the microwave, depending on what feels best for you to soothe your breasts before and after feeding your baby.
Burp cloths: Seriously useful. No explanation necessary, other than being sure that you’re using a clean cloth!
Once you’ve gotten acclimated to moving around the house more, there are plenty of ways your partner can help:
- Turn those items listed above into a mobile nursing station: stock up all of your favorite items you’ve learned to love during the initial feedings in a basket for easy transportation from spot to spot in your home. Don’t forget to add in items like an iPad or favorite magazine as you relax into nursing. Fueling your body and mind while breastfeeding is the ultimate multitasking mom hack!
- Use a bottle to feed your baby pumped breast milk: this is where your partner can step in! Having your breast milk ready to go in a bottle allows your partner the opportunity to feed your baby while you do what you need to (sometimes, that’s a shower. Sometimes it’s a nap or two.) Seeing your partner bond with your baby and giving yourself some much-needed self-care time will undoubtedly go a long way in the postpartum period.
Cleaning duty: asking your partner to help out cleaning items, be it nursing pads or pumping parts, will give your body time to rest and know that those items are handy when you need them most. It also shows them how these products work, which is useful for everyone on the breastfeeding journey!
Emotional support goes a long way:
The support your partner provides doesn’t just hang around the inner breastfeeding circle held in your home. Knowing you have their support when you venture into the world will be a huge boost to your confidence!
- Diaper bag check: from the Type A parent who would love a checklist to accompany their diaper bag to someone who shouts out “got the burp cloths?” on their way out the door, having your partner there to double check that you’ve got all the essentials for successful feeding outside of the home will allow you to focus on the other parts that go with leaving the home for those initial first trips. Don’t forget an extra diaper or two and a change of clothes for the baby. Let’s be real, you might want an extra top as well!
- Public shows of support: it may feel intimidating to go out in public knowing that it’ll be during a time that you’re normally nursing. Sharing your plan with your partner before leaving the house gives you both something to stick to, along with a backup plan if it doesn’t work out. If you’re pumping, it might be good to grab some milk to go in a bottle. If you want to have the ease of feeding at your fingertips, having a shawl could calm your nerves.
Chances are, your partner is eager to walk alongside you on the breastfeeding journey. Talking with them about your feeding choices will make this a bit easier, and should help following the birth of your baby as you continue forward with the process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your partner will be excited to be involved with you and your baby. Happy breastfeeding!