One of the most important jobs of spouses and partners is to make sure mothers and babies stay happy and healthy. As you and your partner adjust to your new roles as parents, you should identify ways you can be supportive, including learning more about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
The well-being of children starts with proper nutrition, and breastfeeding is a great source of nourishment for infants. Breastfeeding not only provides babies with all the nutrients they need, but it also protects your partner’s health and reinforces the maternal bond.
Breastfeeding is also the most natural and beneficial source of nourishment for infants. Breast milk has all the nutrients infants need to be strong and healthy.
Breastfeeding is a learning process–a process you and your partner can learn together–but it is worth the time and dedication it takes because it helps prevent illnesses and supports babies’ growth and development.
Every couple’s experience with breastfeeding is different and comes with its own set of unique rewards, including a stronger familial bond.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding infants for at least the first six months. Mothers whose partners support their breastfeeding efforts breastfeed longer. Here are a few ways you can support your partner during pregnancy, after delivery, and back at home:
- Encourage your partner to make a breastfeeding plan and set goals. Let her know that you’ll be there to help along the way.
- Plan for the delivery together. That means helping choose a doctor and hospital that support breastfeeding, going to doctor’s appointments, and going to prenatal classes.
- Tour hospitals or birthing facilities together and choose a health care facility that supports breastfeeding.
- Start learning about normal baby behavior so you’ll be prepared when baby comes.
- Support skin-to-skin time for mom and baby the first hour after delivery.
- Request rooming-in at the hospital so that you and your partner have more time to get to know your baby and settle into a healthy routine.
- Get plenty of skin-to-skin time where you cuddle the baby on your bare chest. This is great bonding time with lots of benefits for both of you.
- Be on standby to get help for your partner and baby as they get the hang of breastfeeding. That means asking a nurse or lactation consultant for help. Listen carefully so you can help mom remember the information later.
- Make sure your partner and baby have private time to breastfeed and sleep.
Back at Home
- Be prepared. Newborns eat at least 8 to 12 times a day and sleep only a few hours at a time. Learn what to expect from your baby and how you can adjust your schedule during the early months.
- Be watchful. Learn to spot early hunger cues and bring the baby to your partner when you see them. It’s much easier for babies to latch on and feed before they get too hungry. This will also help her body to make all the milk your baby needs.
- Be encouraging. Let your partner know you’re proud of her. Breastfeeding can be hard. If she has problems, help her find some help, and remind her that it’s worth it.
- Be thoughtful. Small acts make you a big hero. Bring your partner a pillow so she’s comfortable during feedings. Make sure she has a glass of water and a healthy snack nearby.
- Be helpful. You can hold the baby after a feeding until she falls sound asleep, change diapers, learn how to calm the baby when she cries, take care of meals and household chores, and give mom a break so she can shower or nap. She will be grateful, and you’ll get more time with the baby.
- Call in reinforcements. If you can’t be there for your partner, turn to family and friends who have offered to help.
- Be smokefree. Babies who are exposed to smoke face a lot of short-term and long-term health problems. Don’t let anyone smoke near your baby, and don’t take the baby anywhere smoking is allowed.
Back to Work
- Encourage your partner to pump and store her breastmilk once she’s gotten the hang of breastfeeding and her supply is set. She should start pumping at least two weeks before going back to work.
- At first she may not get a lot of milk, but pumping once a day will help build a supply of milk in your freezer to use while she is away. When she and baby are together, regular breastfeeding will keep her milk supply up and keep her comfortable too.
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