While the health (and snuggle) benefits are enormous, choosing to breastfeed doesn’t come without some serious sacrifices.

Breastfeeding moms are limited in how they spend their time, what they eat (and drink), and how they delegate baby related duties. They are the parent who always wakes up for night feedings and, by nature of being the baby’s sole food source, they’re often the primary soother whenever baby is feeling tired, overwhelmed or fussy.

When breastfeeding moms head back to work they also have to lug a pump to and from the office and maintain a rigorous pumping schedule until it’s time to wean.


If your partner is giving your baby the gift of breast milk, consider showing her just how much you appreciate all she’s doing for your baby.

Try one of these ideas:

1. Pick a job and do all of it

While she’s breastfeeding, your partner will be handling ALL of the infant feeding. Consider thanking her (and evening the load a little bit) by choosing a baby or family related job and doing all of it. While ‘pitching in’ is great, it’s the ownership over a job (and the fact that she won’t even have to think about it) that will show your partner true gratitude.

Consider changing all the diapers when you’re present, washing all of the pump parts or taking over your family’s laundry completely until she weans.

2. Learn the lingo

Breastfeeding and the mechanisms by which a baby grows are complex subjects. Your partner will be learning out of necessity and you can too. Attend lactation appointments, read articles and ask questions. When you understand breastfeeding, you’ll be able to be a true thoughtful partner and co-troubleshooter when your partner notices green poop in a diaper or can’t seem to help baby find a deep latch.

3. Facilitate support

If your partner is struggling with a breastfeeding challenge and you’re not sure how to help, take action to get her the support she needs.

Take the lead in researching local breastfeeding support groups and when you find one, do everything you can to help your partner get there. Going to a support group can be intimidating when you’re only a few weeks postpartum so support her by getting the baby dressed while she showers, packing the diaper bag and loading the baby into the car so she can walk out the door and get where she needs to go.

4. Help her meet her goals

While having a baby is often the ultimate exercise in letting go of expectations, most breastfeeding moms want someone who knows their goals and supports them as they reach them. Help your partner meet her goals by first, understanding what those goals are and second, providing lots of support if she waivers or begins to feel frustrated.

5. Tell her you notice

So often in life we assume that our gratitude is felt by those we’re thankful for. Instead of assuming that your partner knows how grateful you are that she’s providing your baby with breast milk, tell her.

Thank her when she spends the night nursing in the rocker. Write her a note when your baby starts solids. Tell her that you appreciate her sacrifice when she misses out on another night with her friends or bachelorette weekend and remind her how much her hard work matters.

6. Document her journey

There is true beauty in the image of a breastfeeding mother. Thank your partner for the days of her life she’ll spend snuggled up with a hungry babe by snapping a photo every few months for her to look back on in years to come.

Don’t stress about making sure your images are perfect, instead capture the sweet, real moments of your everyday life together.

7. Plan a post-weaning surprise

Weaning is a big deal. It means that baby is growing, thriving and making strides towards independence. It also means that your partner gets to wear nice bras again and choose her wardrobe based on something other than how easily a tiny mouth can access her nipples.

While weaning brings joy, it can also bring some sadness around the baby growing up, or mood and body changes as hormones readjust.

Plan a post-weaning surprise for your partner to show her how much you appreciate her dedication and commitment to your baby. Take a day off work and head to the winery, spend a night away somewhere romantic or take her out to a special thank you dinner.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

Keep reading Show less