When we had Della, I sometimes wished I could breastfeed because I wanted to support Serenity and be a full part of my new baby's life. But even though I couldn’t latch her on myself, there were LOTS of things I could do (and not do) to support Serenity through this difficult but rewarding journey. Here are my top DOs and DON’Ts to support your breastfeeding partner.
DOs & DON’Ts for Supporting the Breastfeeding Mom
DO - FEED HER
Mom that is. Breastfeeding requires a ton of calories - even more than pregnancy. Her body is sustaining two human lives - and she has been for over 9 months now!
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Expect her to be hungry and never EVER comment negatively on her appetite. Keeping up with her appetite and trying to feed baby and herself might feel overwhelming, so make it easy by buying and prepping her favorites. Bonus points if it can be eaten with one hand while nursing AND tastes good at room temperature. Some of Serenity’s favorite snacks were Roam sticks, KIND bars, Bulletproof bars, and Siete chips, and LMNT electrolytes. For even more bonus points, throw in some treats like Hu chocolate and Capello’s pizza.
Preparing freezer meals in advance is a great idea, but if that ship has sailed or if cooking isn’t your thing, make a list of quick and easy nutrient-dense meals you can grab from the grocery, get delivered from a restaurant, or send to the friend or relative who wants to help out. Bottom line: limit how much mom has to think about her own food so she can focus on providing for your little one.
DON'T - MINIMIZE HOW HARD IT IS
It may not look like much, but breastfeeding is both physically and emotionally demanding. Plus HORMONES! It’s harder than partners will probably ever realize.
You may never really understand what she is going through, but you can still sympathize. Listen to her challenges and tell her how much you appreciate all that she is doing to feed your child.
Avoid saying things like “isn’t baby done yet?”, “how is baby already hungry again?”, “do you think baby got enough milk”? Chances are, your partner is questioning the same things, but asking them can be perceived as questioning whether or not mom is doing a good job. Instead, use those thoughts to sympathize and offer support - “I know it takes a long time for each feeding session. Do you want me to take the baby when she’s done so you can shower or have some quiet time outside?”
DO - SET UP & MAINTAIN A PUMPING & BREASTFEEDING STATION
Keep it stocked with snacks and drinks so she can replenish and hydrate while she nurses or pumps. Include some entertainment to stave off boredom - a book, remote, headphones for a podcast or audiobook, her phone charger, etc. Plus anything else she likes - chapstick, lotion, etc. Here’s some inspo from ours.
When she’s done, make sure it’s ready to go for the next time - plug the pump in to charge, wash the pump parts (order a second set if she pumps often), etc. Restock burp cloths, nursing/pumping bras, and clean up whatever messes you can. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just functional!
DON'T - EXPECT TO HAVE THE SAME SOCIAL LIFE
It can be a huge adjustment to sit at home every night. The burden on mom to be physically present is more than it is on dad if she’s nursing, but you’re in this together so adapt alongside her. Communicate with each other and find new ways to socialize as parents.
And remember, this phase is temporary. Soon your baby will feed less often, sleep longer stretches, and develop more of a predictable schedule.
DO - HELP WITH NIGHT FEEDINGS
Yes, mom must nurse, but partners can do everything else. Go get the baby, change diapers, bring to/from mom, soothe and get back to sleep.
Serenity and I alternated nights. One night, I would do everything but nurse, the next, she would do it all and I would rest. That way, every other night we would each maximize sleep.
DON'T - ALLOW MOM TO REFUSE YOUR HELP
You might try to help and she may criticize you or get frustrated with how you do things. Don’t take it personally and don’t let her resistance be an excuse for you not to help. Remember- hormones! Be her rock. Patiently try to understand how she would like your help and how you could make some tweaks to better serve the family as a whole.
From a dad who has been there, who has made mistakes and learned lessons, I hope these tips help and empower you to be a fully present partner in your breastfeeding journey.
P.S. How awesome is this photo of @therock taking care of @laurenhashianofficial; "[She] has her hands full nursing/feeding Baby Tia, so I’m feedin’ mama her dinner. My pleasure. So much respect to her and all mamas out there holding it down and running things." Check out the original post here.
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