It takes 2 to breastfeed – Mum and baby.
There is very little else you need. Baby stores and franchises will try to sell you gizmos and gadgets galore, claiming to make breastfeeding easier for all. In reality, although many of these things are indeed useful, they are not essential.
There is one essential though, it’s cheap, it’s easy, and it can make or break Mummy’s breastfeeding experience.
The support you give changes everything.
It takes 2 to breastfeed, but it takes 3 to make a breastfeeding happy family.
Studies show that women with supportive partners are more likely to breastfeed to six months and beyond.
So, here are my top tips, from a Mum to a Dad.
Learn with her
Breastfeeding is hardwork. There is so much I didn’t know about it before having a baby that I now laugh at my uneducated and unaware self. Read together, take classes together and make it your business as much as hers.
Or rather, help her understand that she will never really be prepared. Yes you should read, yes you should learn, but in reality when baby is here everything is different. Reassure her that you will help her through it- regardless.
THE EARLY DAYS
Prompt her and guide her
So, baby is here and the woman you love most in the world is physically and emotionally drained. Put your arm around her and help her latch baby. Work together to find that perfect latch and share a moment you will remember forever as your child takes their first few sips.
If she complains of pain then you must take her seriously. Question every professional you can until it is sorted. This could be down to so many things that they can not all be listed here, but make sure you ask a professional to check for tongue tie and get your partner as much support as is physically possible.
(Protect her from discomfort in practical ways too- stock up on cushions!)
In those first few days your new creation will spend more time on those boobs than you have in your relationship so far! Your partner needs food. Breastfeeding requires more calories than pregnancy, cake and chocolate are a must. Oaty foods such as flapjack can help increase supply if this is needed. She’ll need hot meals too, so make sure her food is cut up into small.chunks, eating one handed will soon become her superpower. Make this possible..
Make sure that there is a drink within reach at all times. And make sure she is drinking it. Dehydration is not a friend of a new Mum.
Allow her a toilet break and a bath. Skin to skin with Daddy can calm baby and give Mum 20 valuable minutes of bathtime peace. Perhaps take baby for a walk in the pram while Mummy has a power nap.
It can be incredibly dull sitting down with a baby on your boob all day. Make sure she has the television remote to hand, stock up on magazines and box sets of her favourite series.
Yes, its OK that baby is feeding all the time. They are growing. No, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have enough milk, it just means that baby is making sense of the new world.
She is amazing! Tell her that, tell her often. Her hormones will be all over the place, you have not met a hormonal lady until you live with a new mother when her milk comes in. (approx day 4) Keep telling her you love her and thanking her for the fabulous and priceless gift she is giving your child.
Believe in her
She can do it. There will be many many times when she doubts herself, your belief must be her constant in this emotionally draining world.
FEEDING TO SIX MONTHS AND BEYOND
There will come a time when those around you, be they family or friends, will ask when she is going to stop. Adverts for Follow on milk have incorrectly led many to believe that six months is “time to move on from breastfeeding”. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends extended breastfeeding to 2 years and beyond. Make sure that you make this clear to anyone who questions her. ANYONE, even your family.
Praise her (even more)
Isn’t it amazing that she has kept going for this long? So few people do. Isn’t she amazing? Tell her again. And tell anyone who will listen. Wonderful.
And good luck to you all.