You’re almost there! Congratulations -- soon you’ll be meeting the newest member of your family. Now it’s time to start thinking about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be like driving a car on a long road trip; sometimes mum (the driver) needs to tag team so she doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel. While your role in the breastfeeding game might be secondary to your partner’s, it’s still important, so it’s worth knowing your stuff!
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The breastfeeding partnership: how you can help
While breastfeeding is a biological process for your partner, it can be a different story figuring out exactly what your role is. But don’t fret; whether your role comes naturally to you or not, a little trial and error is never a bad thing.
If you don’t know where to start or need some guidance, here are some helpful tips.
- Emotional support: Breastfeeding can be challenging — it might take a while to get in the swing of things. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t can be stressful, so be her cheerleader!
- Heard of the gastrocolic reflex? Extra points if you answered yes. If you have no idea, all you need to know is this -- what goes in must come out. Once your bub has been fed they will most likely need a nappy change. Helping out with clean-up duties post feed is a great way to help out your partner who is probably all pooped out.
- Water duties: Breastfeeding is draining -- literally. Get your football parent game on and be there with half-time water and snacks so she doesn’t get dehydrated.
- Housework: Have some good clean fun and make sure the house is spic and span so she doesn’t have to.
- Look after her personal needs: She looks uncomfortable? Grab her a pillow. Her nipples are cracked? Fetch her some ointment.
- Figure out your baby’s habits: Is your baby making sucking sounds, squirming or making hand to mouth gestures? Get your bub to the milk early to stop the tears.
Why your support is important during breastfeeding
Think of your support like playing doubles tennis -- sure you could probably still play the game if your partner was absent, but it would be a lot easier to win as a team. To put it simply, your support is super important. The more you know about breastfeeding, the more likely she is to breastfeed successfully. Likewise, the more supportive you are, the less likely she is to feel stressed.
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What to expect
Breastfeeding doesn’t always go to plan. Everyone’s experience is different and it’s important to be patient. It may take some time to get used to your new routine, but never fear -- you’ll reach a new ‘normal’ soon enough. Your partner’s post-baby body will need some time to recover so be understanding and give her the time she needs to rest.
Finally, remember that help is always on hand for you and your partner. Whether it’s some advice and support from a friend or family member, a maternal health nurse, lactation consultant, GP or services like the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s helpline.