Your partner needs your help to begin and continue breastfeeding. Even if friends and relatives are also helping, you should be the main source of support.
Here are some ways you can help:
Educate yourself about breastfeeding
Go to a breastfeeding preparation class with your partner to learn all about breastfeeding your baby.
Attend a breastfeeding support group
Go to your local breastfeeding support group with your partner while she is pregnant. Encourage your partner to meet and chat with other mothers to get advice and support.
If your partner is advised to harvest colostrum during pregnancy, you can help by learning how to hand express along with her.
You can also make sure that any colostrum she harvests is brought to the maternity unit to be fed to your baby when they are born.
After the birth, enjoy the 'Golden hour' when your partner and baby are in skin-to-skin contact. Watch your baby's instinctive movements as they root and find the breast. Your midwife will support and guide you both.
When your baby has been breastfed this might be a good opportunity for you to have skin-to-skin time with them. Especially if your partner needs a rest.
Set up a feeding area
When you go home from the hospital, set up a feeding area for your partner.
This should include:
- a comfortable chair
- a foot stool
- the remote control or a book
- a small table with a drink and snacks
If possible, be with your partner for a lot of those early feeds so you can both learn the skill of breastfeeding.
Help your partner during breastfeeding
If your partner is breastfeeding lying down or in a laid back position, be at hand to place your baby in the cot. This gives your partner the confidence to relax knowing the baby will be safely returned to the cot.
A massage on the shoulders or feet while your partner is feeding can also help them to relax, causing milk to be released more easily.
You can help your partner relieve engorgement (breast fullness) by hand expressing some milk or placing a warm, moist face cloth on her breast for a few minutes before feeding. You can also help during feeding by gently compressing (massaging) her breast.
Bond with your baby
Connecting with your baby is important both for you and your partner.
Enjoy some of the following activities with your baby:
- skin-to-skin contact
- bath time
- comforting your baby after a feed
- nappy changing
- a relaxing walk
- having cuddle time
Help out at home
You can make life at home easier for your partner by:
- limiting visitors and taking advantage of offers of help from family and friends
- placing a list of chores in the kitchen - this can be a great way of reminding people of the kind of help you’d appreciate
- doing the grocery shopping or setting up online grocery shopping that includes delivery
- trying to get home on time, if you are back at work
Speak to and comfort your partner
Tell your partner you love her and how proud you are of her. Give encouragement and listen to any concerns she has.
Remind her the early days and weeks of breastfeeding are temporary. Settling into breastfeeding and parenthood takes time.
Be flexible about sleeping
Late evening and night time can be busy. Your baby feeds often and will sometimes take a number of feeds together.
Going to bed early helps, but try to be flexible about sleeping so that you can be there for your partner as much as possible.
Get help and support
If your partner is having breastfeeding challenges, the most important thing you can both do is ask for help.
Lactation consultants (IBCLCs) provide support and advice in all maternity units.
You can also get support from:
- your public health nurse (PHN)
- your GP
- breastfeeding voluntary support groups