7 real ways husbands can support (and thank!) their breastfeeding wives

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.

In This Article

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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