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How partners can support new moms and breastfeeding

Published in Birthing Services, Women's Services, For the Health of It Author: Melissa Bruns, BSN, RN, RNC-OB, IBCLC

It can be difficult to balance the needs of the new baby with everyday life. Taking care of a newborn is a full-time job. Having the support of family and friends can make a huge difference by allowing mom time to rest, recover and focus on breastfeeding.

If your partner chooses to breastfeed the new baby, having your support can make a world of difference. Newborn babies need to breastfeed at least eight to 12 times in 24 hours. It can be difficult for a new mom to manage anything more than eating, sleeping and nursing the new baby.

To help your partner during this time:

  1. Provide encouragement and praise. Your partner needs your support and reassurance.
  2. Make sure mom’s needs are met. Make her comfortable by bringing her extra pillows and a glass of water to drink. Bring her snacks that she can eat one handed. Arrange for or make her favorite meals. When she is finished nursing, take the baby and cuddle so mom can nap.
  3. Get to know your baby. Spend time and interact with your baby. Get to know your baby’s feeding cues. Work together with mom to observe your baby for early feeding cues. Breastfeeding goes much easier if a baby is responded to when he/she begins to show early cues rather than when already upset.
  4. Become involved in the feedings. Stay at her side and watch the beautiful act that is breastfeeding. Observe how the baby gazes at mom. Be part of the bonding that happens during breastfeeding. Change the baby’s diaper before feedings and help burp baby after.
  5. Assume more responsibility for the household chores and other children. Arrange for extra help or take on additional chores yourself so that the mother can focus on her and baby’s needs without the extra stress that housework can bring. Take the older children to the park or an activity out of the house so that mom can rest.
  6. Be the gatekeeper. No doubt you’re both excited to show off the beautiful baby, and there are probably many family and friends who would like to visit. Help her to keep breastfeeding the baby a priority. Keep visits to a minimum during the early days to focus on infant needs and mom’s recovery. Pre-arrange necessary visits and set time limits. It can be hard to ask well-meaning family and friends for privacy to feed. It becomes much easier if boundaries and expectations are set before the visit begins.
  7. Listen to any concerns or needs that your partner may have. Encourage her to seek help from her provider or a lactation consultant if she has any concerns or is having difficulty.

Take off whatever time you can to help mother and baby transition to life at home. You have a valuable and important role in your partner’s and baby’s life. Be her support and find ways to be involved in both breastfeeding and parenting. Your input is essential and necessary. Your support for your partner’s decision to breastfeed is so important and will benefit the entire family.

CentraCare Health Offers the Following Lactation Support

St. Cloud Hospital Breastfeeding Help Line offers lactation resources seven days a week. Help line hours: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. After hours: leave a message and calls will be returned within 24 hours. Call 320-251-2700, ext. 52311.

CentraCare Clinic - Health Plaza Pediatrics: A board certified lactation consultant is available by phone for breastfeeding advice or in clinic for face-to-face consults. For more information or to set up an appointment, call 320-654-3610, ext 70268.

CentraCare Health — Long Prairie: Certified lactation consultants are available by phone or appointment for breastfeeding questions and problems for assistance in obtaining breast pumps. For more information, call 320-732-2131.

CentraCare Health — Monticello: 60-minute, one-on-one sessions with a certified lactation consultant are available. For more information or to schedule a session, call 763-271-2218.

CentraCare Health — Paynesville: Certified lactation consultants are available 24/7 by calling 320-243-3767.

CentraCare Health offers the “Successful Breastfeeding” class, designed for expectant and new parents interested in learning more about breastfeeding. Register for the class in St. Cloud or in Monticello.

Your health care provider is another resource for answering breastfeeding questions.