Breast-feeding support: How a partner can help

There’s more you can do for your breast-feeding partner than you might realize. Understand how to provide breast-feeding support.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your partner plans to breast-feed your new baby, your support can make all the difference. Understand what you can do to help.

How can I help my family prepare for breast-feeding?

You can start helping your partner prepare for breast-feeding by learning the benefits. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients for your baby and boosts your baby’s immune system. It’s considered the gold standard for infant nutrition.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months after birth — and breast-feeding in combination with solid foods until at least age 1. Beyond age 1, breast-feeding is recommended as long as your partner and your baby wish to continue.

Attend breast-feeding classes with your partner. If you know the positions and techniques involved, you might be better able to help your partner after birth. Classes can also help you understand the impact that the use of bottles, pacifiers and supplemental feedings can have on the breast-feeding process, and spur you and your partner to make decisions together about how you’ll care for your baby.

What can I do to support my breast-feeding partner?

To help your partner breast-feed:

  • Provide encouragement. Support your partner’s decision to breast-feed. Remind her that you appreciate the effort involved.
  • Make her comfortable. When your partner is breast-feeding, offer her a pillow, a blanket, a drink of water or anything she might like to have nearby.
  • Get involved in feedings. Carry the baby to your partner. Afterward, burp the baby, change the baby’s diaper or help the baby go back to sleep.
  • Care for the baby. Offer to care for the baby, or other children at home, so that your partner can nap between feedings.
  • Take on additional household responsibilities. Consider redividing your household tasks so that your partner has more time to rest.
  • Stick around. Sit near your partner and enjoy the moment together.
  • Listen. Does your partner have breast-feeding concerns? Be a good listener. If necessary, encourage her to seek help from her health care provider or a lactation consultant.

What else can I do?

Your partner and your baby will develop a special bond during breast-feeding. At times you might feel envious of their connection. Remember that the bond between you and your baby is special and important, too.

Give your baby plenty of cuddles, hugs and skin-to-skin contact. Sing songs, take walks or play games that are special to just you and your baby. By spending time with your baby, you’ll develop your own unique relationship.

Nov. 19, 2020

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