How Can Partners Help With Breastfeeding?

If your partner has decided to breastfeed, you might be wondering how or even IF you’ll be able to contribute on the baby feeding front.

You’ve probably heard a few people say you can be a big help by…

wait for it…

changing the baby’s diapers. 

And while you definitely should be pitching in on diaper duty, this wasn’t really what you had in mind. And there’s nothing like being elbow deep in baby poop to make you feel just a tad jealous of the dads who get to snuggle up with their babies and give a bottle.

But never fear! 

There are many (fun and non-stinky) ways you can help your breastfeeding partner:

  • Know your baby’s hunger cues. When your baby is hungry he will:
    • Open and close his mouth (like a little baby bird).
    • Turn his head from side to side (he’s looking for a nipple).
    • Put his hands in his mouth and maybe suck on them (until he gets a boob, his hands will do).
  • Keep your baby happy while mom gets ready for the feed. You can rock him, sing to him, and give him a clean finger or pacifier to suck on.
  • Once your baby is latched, make sure mom is comfortable. Adjust her pillows and place a rolled up receiving blanket under her hand that’s supporting the baby.
  • Have a look at your baby on the breast, and get familiar with what’s going on there. Does the latch look nice and deep? Is he showing you wide rhythmic sucking? Do you hear any swallows? Tell mom what you’re observing, as sometimes she can’t see much from her perspective.
  • Newborns often start to doze off while they’re eating. You can help keep your baby awake by tickling his feet, stroking his head, and massaging his hands and arms. 
  • Talk to your baby while he’s eating. He knows and loves your voice.  
  • When your baby is done the first breast, pick him up and burp him while mom gets ready to feed on the other side. Sit him up and talk to him to wake him up a bit.  
  • When your baby is done on the second breast, take him from mom and give her a break. If your baby is asleep, hold him until he’s deeply sleeping, and then put him down in his safe sleep space. And if he’s awake? This is a great opportunity for some dad and baby bonding. 

And so you see, while of course you can’t actually physically breastfeed your baby, there are many other ways to be involved in the feeding. Many breastfeeding moms decide to pump their milk and offer a bottle once breastfeeding is going is well, and so it will probably only be a few weeks until you’re able to feed the baby. In the meantime, tell mom what an amazing job she’s doing…and when you’re helping out by following the advice above, know that you’re doing a great job, too.

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