Is your loved one or family member recovering from childbirth and working hard to get breast/chestfeeding established. Whether this is your first rodeo or you have been down this path before, there are many things that a partner or support person can do to not only support the breast/chestfeeding dyad, but also to help them to be successful. Your role is not inconsequential. If you are wondering exactly how to do that, please consider any or all of these helpful actions. August is National Breastfeeding Month and everyone can play a role in helping the parent/baby couplet succeed.
Research has shown us that the number one biggest contributor to lactation success is the support of a partner. Offering verbal encouragement and consistent support and acknowledgement of the work that they are doing to provide human milk to the baby goes a long way to help work through the hurdles and come out the other side with pride and confidence.
Deal with the baby’s “befores and afters”
While partners and support people cannot breast/chestfeed, you sure can be helpful before and after the nursing session. Bring the baby to the nursing parent, change any diapers that need to be changed and soothe the baby to sleep when the feeding session is over. All these things make things easier on the person who is nursing the baby.
Pre and post pump prep
If your loved one is also pumping as part of their feeding activity, you can step in and prep the pump for a pumping session, take care of storing any expressed milk and cleaning all the parts after, so that everything is ready for next time.
Feed the feeder
While the nursing parent is the “food truck” for the baby, you can take on a similar role for them. Every time they are sitting down to feed the baby, make sure that they have easy access to nutritious snacks and beverages. Food that is easy to eat with one hand and a drink in a spill-proof container will help make sure that the lactating parent is staying well nourished for the immense job of making milk. These lactation cookies make a great snack or try some Euphoric Herbals “Milky Mama” tea that supports milk production.
Be the “pillow placer”
Once your partner is settled down for a nursing session, swoop in with pillows to make sure that they are totally comfortable. A quick check to make sure that both their arms are supported, as well as their back and the baby, will go a long way to helping their body heal from the birth and make the nursing sessions so much more pleasant and comfortable.
Call for help
Perhaps one of the most helpful things that partners and loved ones can do to support the breast/chest-feeding parent is to call in help when things are not going well. If there is pain, low milk supply or a slow gaining baby, or any other concerning situations, inviting a lactation consultant to offer support sooner rather than later is critical. The sooner an expert can step in and offer clinical information, the sooner the problem can be resolved. Sometimes the person doing the feeding does not see the forest through the trees, but support people can help facilitate help before things get worse. To find a lactation consultant in your area, use this tool and make the call if needed.
Your support matters
Partners and family may feel that they do not have a big role in breast/chest-feeding, but that is simply not true. The more support the nursing person gets from their team, the better off everything will be. Do not hesitate to jump in with any of these tasks or additional ones that you can add, to help things work out well.