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.