It’s been said that the single most influential component of a woman having a natural, unmedicated birth is having a supportive partner. I’d say, without a doubt, that the same goes for successful breastfeeding. A new mom needs her partner’s support throughout the breastfeeding relationship, but most importantly in the beginning.
There are many things a partner can do to show a mother she is supported and taking these actions of encouragement can help a mother through the most trying times of the early days of nursing and beyond into any bumps that may occur along the way.
Some ways that partners can support mothers who are dedicated to breastfeeding include:
1. Learn! When the non-nursing parent is educated about breastfeeding, mom will be reminded of accurate information and directed to trustworthy sources. When mom feels frustrated or confused, having a partner to turn to who can guide her emotions with compassion and helpful facts, a woman can feel supported and successful. Partners can help troubleshoot various problems or difficulties that may arise and dedication to doing so shows great support for a new mom. Some more great places to start can be found here.
2. Commit. Knowing that you are equally committed to the breastfeeding relationship as mother and baby are can make a huge impact in a woman’s own dedication. Bumps in the road, difficulties in the beginning, and misinformation can lead moms to stop nursing sooner than they truly may want. But if the partner is dedicated to making breastfeeding work then mom will be more encouraged to stick with it!
3. Help. Mom may be the one with the milk, but the partner can do the rest! Get mom drinks, (healthy!) snacks, grab her a book or the remote, let her rest, do some chores, help with the other children, grab a diaper, or perform any other myriad of tasks that mom would deem helpful. The early days of breastfeeding are especially taxing on a mom, no matter how many children she’s nursed. I remember my husband helping to hold our son’s little newborn arms out of the way for a few seconds while we got him latched on in those early days of nursing. Remember to take some extra time out of your day to go out of your way making her feel comfortable and supported in her role as mother.
4. Encourage. Never underestimate the power of a kind word. New moms especially need supportive coaching and compliments, but long-term nursers need it just as much. I remember the encouragement I received in the early days from my husband who was so proud of how dedicated I was to sticking to our goal and watching our child grow. But even now that I’m nursing a toddler through pregnancy, he still encourages me and compliments my “stick-to-it” attitude even when it can be painful to nurse. His encouragement still lifts my spirits and gives me renewed confidence and dedication.
5. Be there. As often as you can, sit with mom as she nurses. Your presence is a huge sign of support and sometimes nursing can be isolating and lonely. Spending time together as a family while mom and baby nurse shows patience, respect, and lots of support.
Do you have any other ideas to share regarding the support you received or wish you would have received when nursing? Partners, do you have ideas for more ways to show support to a nursing pair?
Adrienne is a first time mom to her mellow sweetie-pie, Burkley. Carrying her natural lifestyle over into her role of mother was a common-sense transition for this former elementary school teacher turned crunchy-mama. Research is her passion and her friends and family know that she is almost always ready with a stash of resources bookmarked to answer any of their natural parenting questions. While she admits to being on the computer more than she should be, she has been happily adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after moving back home to the Quad Cities (along the Mississippi River) from Chicago, by spending time with her family and newly found mom-friends. She is currently saving up money to become a certified postpartum doula. You can find Adrienne at Mommying My Way.