What do you think is the factor that most influences whether or not a woman breastfeeds? Her determination? Baby's ability? Interventions during childbirth? Mother's milk supply? Family history of breastfeeding? The answer is: None of the above.
Research shows it's her social support network that is most influential. And, you, as her loving partner, are the most important piece of that support! We're celebrating dads today because it's Father's Day, but ALL partners in parenting are vital to the support of mama after labor and in the first weeks of breastfeeding a new baby.
"I'm kind of shy about nursing in public, but my husband makes it easy for me. He is super supportive and not bashful in the least. He explains the importance of breastfeeding if anyone is willing to listen."
Showing love to your partner can take many forms—things will be different now that you've got a baby in the picture. For starters, you are likely both sleep deprived. Try to be extra patient and gentle with your wife. She is experiencing major hormone shifts as well as being sleepy.
Mother and baby are falling in love. It is an intense experience and unlike anything she's experienced before. You may feel left out or even jealous. That's normal. Talking about it will let your partner know how you're feeling. She may have no idea!
Quality cuddle time with baby can help you feel more connected. You can experience "breastfeeding" by holding your baby against your bare chest. All that nuzzling and skin to skin contact will help you get to know each other. Mommy will fall in love you even more just watching you nurture your baby in that way.
<span>Your wife will be hungry and thirsty and she may not even realize it. Show your love by bringing her nutritious snacks and a glass of water when she's breastfeeding. She'll need reminders to use good ergonomics. Make sure she is well supported with pillows under her arms and behind her back. Remind her to relax and give her a little shoulder rub to help out with that.
You may feel like you're not needed at home and your time would be better spent running errands or getting some work done. Trust me, you are needed and wanted. If you have any time off work, enjoy it at home getting to know your new baby. Acknowledge that you are sleep deprived, too! Take naps with your family and enjoy lazy mornings in bed together. Remember you may be super, but you are not super human. You need your rest so you can be present for mom and baby. Enlist the help of neighbors, friends and family for all those errands. Speaking of friends and family, that's another way you can help mom and baby. Limit visitors to once a day and keep visiting hours short.
Renee Beebe, IBCLC is available to you everyday of the week over at the Second 9 Months. Like her on Facebook, or check out her website for more resources and support from an IBCLC you can trust!
To read more articles from our June Newsletter, check out 'Featured Articles' on the left.