Let’s face it… becoming a new parent can be extremely overwhelming! I still remember that first drive home from the hospital. My husband and I were cracking up as we stared at our son in the car seat behind us. “Can you believe that they trusted us enough to take this little guy home? Do they know that we have never changed a diaper or bathed a baby before? What were they thinking????”
As I spent the first few weeks mastering breastfeeding, it became apparent that two sets of hands were often better than one. It amazed me that an entire day would pass before I realized that I forgot to eat or take a shower. It was my hubby, aka breastfeeding cheerleader/parenting partner, that made sure that I was being taken care of as I was all consumed in feeding and caring for our newborn.
I often get asked by the soon-to-be parents in my breastfeeding classes about the roles of the partner. What role does he/she play while mom is breastfeeding? Many partners often feel like they don’t have a defined role when their partner is breastfeeding because unless his/her breasts start lactating, it is truly a one person feeding show for those first few weeks. Plus, diaper duty doesn’t sound too glamorous!
So, instead of writing an article for the newly breastfeeding mama this week, this blog post is actually for her partner… the one who makes sure that the ship doesn’t sink! Let me tell you…. your job is WAY more important than you may think.
Before we get to the advice, I’d like to let you in on an important secret…. You are the glue that binds your new family together. You are an integral component in the happiness and sanity of your household! The bond you form with your partner, who has just stepped into this new parenting role just like you, is just as powerful as the bond you create with your new baby. Your compassion and support will not only increase your partner’s self-esteem, but will also make or break her breastfeeding experience.
So, now here is some advice for the newly breastfeeding mama’s partner, from a few of my favorite breastfeeding mamas! Here’s how their partners supported them during those first few weeks:
Marie: Encouragement and the willingness to wake up around the clock with me. I nursed, he did diapers… it helped me not feel alone and crazy at 2am.
Grace: My partner constantly replenished my snacks and water glass! And reassured me that what I was doing was the right thing. I’m so glad he didn’t let me give up and let us see a new lactation consultant, ENT doctor, and chiropractor… otherwise we wouldn’t still be nursing at 13 months!
Jessica: He prepared all of my meals and then did the dishes! With such frequent breastfeeding in those first few weeks/months, it’s hard to get in good nutrition for mom. I was so grateful that I didn’t have to think about feeding myself or my husband!
Danielle: My wife did everything…brought me food and water, did the dishes and laundry, fixed our cloth diapers, and made sure I got to bathe. And when it was super painful, she looked up stuff on google, got ice packs and coconut oil, and helped him latch each time. It was truly a team effort!
Cassandra: Helping with household chores – running to the store, encouraging me to drink water… all those things you don’t have time to do in the beginning because you’re busy sustaining your newborn.
Arelis: My baby is now 20 weeks and exclusively breastfed. My husband calls breastfeeding a ‘special treat.’ Whenever he holds our daughter, he asks her if she is ready for her ‘special treat.” The baby just giggles and knows what’s coming next.
Maren: Dividing duties because breastfeeding in those early weeks is so all-consuming – so, changing diapers, clothes, rocking and comforting – just trying to even out the responsibilities so that I didn’t get overwhelmed. And not judging me when marathon feeds meant sitting in front of Netflix for 3 hours. Those were actually wonderful days made more lovely by my awesome husband!
Liana: For me, it was just knowing that he never doubted my ability to nourish our child and never questioned when I said that the baby wanted/needed to nurse again (even if he just finished 15 minutes prior.) What’s more, with an oversupply, he supported my pumping so that I could donate to others, despite my milk taking over the freezer!
Shannon: I couldn’t have gotten through those 1st 8 weeks without my partner. He got up with me to help with every night feeding while we still had to finger feed one of the twins. He helped swaddle them, get them into their crib, and do whatever while I pumped. He brought me water and snacks, took care of me and the babies each time I got mastitis, and took care of our 4 year old, too. I think I would have given up if it weren’t for him, but I’m still going strong and the boys are almost 5 months old!
Melissa: Stayed by my side during night time feedings. He kept me awake when things were going smoothly and kept me calm when feedings were frustrating.
Alicia: Since our daughter was so early, my husband did skin to skin with her for the first few weeks!