How Partners Can Help

Having a supportive partner can make a huge difference in your breastfeeding relationship. In the first few weeks, you’ll need a lot of help and support—almost more than you did while giving birth!

Here are some tips for your partner on how to support you:

  • Attend a breastfeeding class with her, or read a book about breastfeeding to feel more knowledgeable about and invested in how your baby will be fed.
  • Be her errand person. Feeding a newborn takes a lot of time and she’ll likely be glued to the couch. Be the go-to person for fluids, easy-to-hold snacks, pillow readjustments and shopping trips for more diapers. 
  • Visitors may cheer her or tire her, and she may need you to judge when to encourage or delay the visit. If your family isn’t excited about her plans to breastfeed (relatives often want the chance to feed the baby themselves), you can also deflect judgmental comments or outdated suggestions. 
  • Understand that she’ll have strong emotions and listen with compassion. Her hormones will be in flux for a couple of weeks after childbirth, which can cause mood swings. Be prepared for a few tears; it’s all part of the transition into motherhood. Beyond hormonal swings, many moms are blindsided with the overwhelming feeling that their lives have changed drastically. It takes time to learn to balance the roles of mother and individual.
  • When you both have questions about nursing, don’t wait. Call the lactation consultants at your hospital or in your community. Professional support can make a huge difference; have a breastfeeding pro on speed dial. 
  • Hold and comfort the baby when mom rests. As you do, you may discover many new ways to soothe your child other than breastfeeding: rocking, swaddling, bathing, walking, baby-wearing and just talking to him. Babies love skin-to-skin contact; many a partner has found that lying down, belly-to-belly, with the baby on his or her chest comforts and settles the infant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers 'A Special Message to New Dads which provides tips on how to help and support moms who are breastfeeding.

See also ...

•  Getting your family on board

• Postpartum depression & breastfeeding

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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