The majority of what is written and what is spoken about in regards to a new baby focuses on the new mother and the infant. But where does this leave her partner and their role with breastfeeding?
Research shows that the biggest determining factor in whether a mother will have a successful breastfeeding relationship with her baby is the attitude and support of her partner or significant support person.
But how can this be? Surely breastfeeding is something between the mother and her baby?
So what can others do to help her breastfeed?
Here are some ideas for starters:
Learn about breastfeeding together. An ABA Breastfeeding Education Class (BEC) is a great way to do this.
Prepare for changes. The mother has just gone through the most major event of her life. Life will never be the same again – body changes, hormonal changes, emotional changes.
If you are able, take some holidays from work or study in the early days of the baby’s life.
Encourage your partner. Tell her how well she is going feeding the baby. Don’t undermine her confidence by offering to feed the baby a bottle. If she needs someone to talk to, encourage her to call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.
Protect the breastfeeding relationship by keeping the visitors to a minimum, answering the phone calls and deflecting any unwanted comments from unhelpful relatives (no matter how good their intentions!).
Take the pressure off your loved one by organising meals, keeping the washing up to date and allowing her to rest as much as possible.
Available for your baby. Nappy changes, bath time, burping, reading a story, going for a walk, are all ways for you to get to know your baby.
To speak from my heart and my home, I have the most wonderful partner in my husband, Guy.
We have six beautiful children aged from three and a half to to 16. I once asked Guy what the one thing about breastfeeding was that he wished all partners knew. His response: ‘That breastmilk is like high octane fuel in your car and anything else is like using dirty fuel’. Isn’t that just like a man?