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How To Get a Spouse To Help With Breastfeeding

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Welcome to the monthly Breastfeeding Carnival. This April nearly 20 bloggers are bringing you their “How To” Tips for Breastfeeding. At the bottom of this post I have links to the other entries.
As for me, I’m writing about how to get a spouse to pitch in. Sure, your husband, wife or significant other may not be the one who gave birth. And yes, you are the only one lactating. But he or she can still help out.
So what can you do to make breastfeeding a two parent show? In my book, “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide To Breastfeeding,” I actually devote an entire chapter to this topic. I’ve even got my personal Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips for Spouses.
So hand this to your spouse or post it on the refrigerator.
1. Provide words of encouragement and reassurance. Emotional support will make the new mom comfortable and confident about breastfeeding.
2. Make sure the breastfeeding mother has all the supplies she needs for each feeding. Once she’s stuck under the weight of a happily eating baby, it’s not wise for her to get up and rock the boat. Things she might want: a glass of water, burp cloth, telephone and television remote control.
3. Think of a sweet way to surprise the breastfeeding mom. Flowers, a note, a foot rub or perhaps a gift certificate for a spa will make her forget how tired she is.
4. Give the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk so that mom can nap, or even sleep for four hours straight during the night. But before jumping in with that bottle, wait until a few weeks after birth so that mom’s breastfeeding routine and milk supply are well-established. (Take note: if you want to make this a regular part of your routine, you will have to pump later to keep your supply in pace with the baby’s demand).
5. Retrieve the baby when she cries in the middle of the night and take her to mom for a feeding. Once the feeding is over, burp and diaper the baby so that mom can got back to sleep.

6. Help with housework. Babies generate a bottomless pile of dirty clothes, so do a load of laundry.
In addition, do the dishes and clean some bottles.
7. Take care of dinner at least a couple nights a week. If you aren’t Emeril, then order take-out or pick up a pizza on your way home.

8. Offer to write thank-you notes for baby gifts.
At a minimum, make sure there are enough stamps in the house.
9. Ask a breastfeeding mother, “Do you need help with anything while you’re feeding the baby?” Even if she says “No,” she’ll definitely appreciate your concern.
10. Photograph or videotape mom and baby while breastfeeding. Despite all protests, mom will probably be glad to have a photo to look back on.
So there you have it. My tips on how to get your spouse to help. And in case you’re wondering… this list was written with the deepest appreciation to my husband. In fact, we now joke that he’s actually the one breastfeeding these days! The boys (ages 3 and 4), toddle over to his side of the bed in the middle of the night, tell him they can’t sleep, and demand his help. I LOVE IT!
Now here are the other carnival participants. (I’m still adding to the list)
* Motherwear: How to help your baby kick the nipple shield habit.
* Marketing Mama: How to pump successfully at work
* Mama Saga: How to breastfeed (or just look like you know what you’re doing)
* BabyReady: How to get baby to take a bottle
* Strocel: How to get breastfeeding off to a good start
* Baby Carriers Down Under: How to breastfeed hands-free
* Breastfeeding Moms Unite: How to become a breastfeeding support professional
* Blacktating: How to treat a cold while breastfeeding
* Breastfeeding Mums: How to wean a breastfed toddler
* Breastfeeding 1-2-3: How to teach your baby nursing manners
* Zen Mommy: Using YouTube to stop nosey questions!
* Natural Birth and Baby Care: How to improve milk supply through nutrition
* Happy Bambino: How to deal with unsupportive family members
* The Bee in your Bonnet: How to be comfortable around nursing mothers
* MoBleez: How to naturally increase your milk supply – try seaweed
* Milk Act: How to care for a sick nursling
* Maher Family Grows: How to to increase milk supply using supplements
* Tiny Grass: Tandem nursing: How to do it without driving yourself and your nurslings crazy

6 Responses to “How To Get a Spouse To Help With Breastfeeding”

What a great post. This is one I plan to email to a new dad who was asking me for some advice. Thanks!

These are great tips! We know that a supportive partner can make all the difference in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship. This provides some really good, practical ways to go about that. :)

Great tips! It does feel so weird to ask for help while nursing, but once they get latched on, you are right, you don’t want to disturb things!

This link may just end up in my husband’s inbox. Somehow… ;)

I know that my husband was my greatest advocate for breastfeeding (and still is!). He would patiently help me latch our daughter on over and over in the early days and is now my biggest supporter with nursing in public.

Andi, this is an awesome post. Is there a way I can (legally) re-print/copy it on paper and give to my HypnoBirthing® students and Doula clients?
So often, daddies are all but lost when it comes to breastfeeding.
Thank you! :-)

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