We’ve talked on our blog before about not excluding your significant other while breastfeeding in order to have a more successful experience and loving bond with your baby. However, we wanted to share a dedicated post on the how those closest to a nursing mother can lend support. No matter if you are her husband, partner, co-parent, family member or friend, it’s important to provide the appropriate kind of support. Here are a few ideas on how you can play an active role in her breastfeeding journey.
(Keeping Her) Fed Is Best
A mother burns 300-500 extra calories per day while breastfeeding. This means she should consume healthy foods to make up for the caloric deficit. In addition, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nursing mothers need two to three servings (or at least 65 grams) of protein per day. While a new mom may not have the time or mental space to keep track of those calories and servings, you can be there to ensure she maintains an appropriate diet and avoids stress. Give her snacks that are tasty and healthy. You’ll get bonus points if they can be eaten with one hand!
Staying hydrated is a essential for a breastfeeding mother. Drinking water helps to improve energy, maintain healthy skin, avoid headaches, support digestion, and, for the nursing mom, helps maintain her milk supply. Keep in mind that, while hydration is a must, drinking excessive fluids doesn’t necessarily equate to increased milk supply or other benefits. Buy her that new water bottle she was eyeing to encourage her water intake!
Become an Expert
Attend a breastfeeding course, speak with other nursing mothers and their significant others, or do individual research. Learn about the benefits (and challenges) she will experience from breastfeeding. Find out what tips and tricks other partners do to support the new moms in their lives. When she is feeling frustrated or down in the dumps, use your new knowledge to show her that breastfeeding is a team effort, not a one-woman show. Your bond as a couple will become stronger, which will reduce stress for both of you. This healthy connection between parents can also boost baby’s social, emotional and cognitive development.
Anticipate Her Needs
Once familiar with the ins and outs of nursing, you will be able to identify certain signs when mom is struggling or uncomfortable. Through trial and error, you’ll even start to note which methods ease her discomfort more than others so you can be prepared in advance. If she is still struggling, one of the most valuable things you can do is help her find a Certified Lactation Counselor in your area. These professionals are dedicated to guiding breastfeeding mothers through the challenges than can arise. Keep their phone number on hand and don’t be afraid to reach out to ask for help. When you recognize and understand her needs, you’ll know exactly what solution is best for her.
Every mother’s journey is unique, but one universal problem they often face is trying to navigate and adjust to life after birth. Many moms attribute a lack of emotional or practical support as a primary reasons for discontinuing to breastfeed. As her partner, your role early on can have an immense effect on her desire and ability to continue on the journey, as well as serve as the support she needs.
To learn more on breastfeeding, follow Imalac on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.