Four Ways to Help Your Partner Breastfeed
When I tell people that my wife still breastfeeds they tend to see me as incredibly lucky. After all, I pretty much sleep through the nights. I have done since Isabelle was around eight weeks old. In part, it’s mostly down to the fact that Rachel still breastfeeds.
I might not be able to do the actual feeding, and maybe it didn’t help my relationship with Isabelle in the beginning. Not that I would change a thing; I understand now that Isabelle was mainly concerned with getting fed, and I just had to find other ways to bond. But there are still things I can, and should, do to help Rachel to keep it going.
After all, stress plays a huge part in a woman’s ability to actually breastfeed, so giving them all the support you can will help reduce it. Not only that, but breastfeeding itself releases Oxytocin, so the mere act of breastfeeding can help the mother reduce her stress levels. (Just don’t tell your partner that at 1 am when the baby won’t latch.)
So, here are four things to help your partner breastfeed:
1. When She Asks, You Do
Once she starts a feed that’s it. She can no longer get up and grab anything that she’s just realised she’s forgotten. Sat down and you’re all comfy? Well, guess who has to get up? That’s right, it’s you.
At this point, I turn into the house butler, which is something I’m fine with doing. After all, my wife is feeding my baby; it’s not exactly hard to go make a drink or grab the remote. I’ll be honest, this shouldn’t even be on here as it’s a little bit obvious, but I’ve written it now, and it’s staying.
2. Try Not to Take Things Personally
I’ll be honest, you will get some abuse for absolutely no reason. I’ve had a right roasting on several occasions merely for turning outwards instead of inwards in bed. “It’s alright for you, you can just sleep.” And I take it. Of course, I take it. My job in the night is relatively easy. Go to sleep, and if Isabelle gets too distressed I have to step up. I even used to lay in bed on my phone, aimlessly doing nothing. It seemed to please her that I wasn’t getting any sleep either since it seemed only fair.
I’ll admit, I haven’t always handled it well. I’ve thrown insults back once or twice due to the fact Rachel has handed me Isabelle because she’s crying and it’s stressing her out. I’ve told her that she panics and hands her off when she cries. But maybe it’s just that her job is so much more difficult than mine, that maybe it’s fair that we even it out.
But still, I have the easy job here, and it’s often a reason behind why mothers choose the bottle, just so their partner can help with the feeds. I won’t judge, but suffice to say I don’t exactly agree with picking the bottle just so the partner can help. But there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing.
… it’s often a reason behind why mothers choose the bottle, just so their partner can help with the feeds.
3. Appreciate How She Feels
Having an on-demand breastfed baby can be tough. And it’s also quite natural for your partner to be slightly self-conscious about it… and even more so in the beginning. She might not want to go out too much, and risk having the baby need a feed. She might not want to go to a proper sit-down restaurant; we very rarely ever do. I guess it all depends on your partner. Some may be happy to whip a breast out and sit there with it on show. Others may want to use a cover (like Rachel does, some of the time), and others may get anxious about even using a cover. I know Rachel once did, but now she’s grown used to it. She even ditches the cover on quite a few occasions and has managed to do it quite discreetly, like when we were on the bus to Amsterdam. My point being, it’s your partner’s choice, and it’s your job to help with how she feels.
4. Be Supportive
This is a nice easy one, and it extends to the whole family too, but it’s one that people can easily mess up. If this is your partner’s first baby, then I’m at least 99 per cent sure that she hasn’t breastfed before, so the chances are it’s all pretty new. She might not really know what she’s doing, and whether she’s doing it right. But saying things like “she can’t need feeding again” or “all she does is feed” can be highly detrimental. It might be sarcastic or meant in a friendly way, but it might make her question everything she’s doing and maybe even think about just going to the bottle. (I mean for the baby, not the wine one.)
Well, that’s about it. I usually do five things when I do a list, but today I felt like four. Call me lazy, but I’m also trying to keep these posts a little shorter. No one wants to sit here and read 1000-plus words from a guy about breastfeeding. I know my place.
And here’s a bonus video version of this post:
Ross Hunt blogs at www.isablog.co.uk. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.