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Six ways your partner can share the responsibility—and three tactics to enlist help
Breastfeeding is a family affair. While you are the one providing nourishment and comfort for your baby, nursing and pumping doesn’t have to be solely your responsibility. It plays a part in your whole family’s day-to-day life. Most of the time, partners are willing (and even eager) to help but aren’t always sure how to get involved. It’s so important to remember that your partner can’t read your mind, so they will need some direction to help you out and give support while breastfeeding. Here are a few ways you can bring your partner into the breastfeeding experience.
Cleaning parts and pieces
We’ll start with the most hands-on, nitty-gritty help. If they’re up for taking a daily to-do off your plate, show your significant other how to disconnect pump parts or bottles and wash them. Let them have ownership of the task and make it a routine you both can count on.
Milk stash management
From bagging milk, organizing your stash, pulling bags to thaw, making bottles, there are so many steps involved in storing and using your breast milk. Get your partner involved by putting them in charge of one or more parts of the process.
You may be the one making the milk, but that doesn’t mean you have to run yourself ragged around the clock. Hand the baby over to your significant other after middle-of-the-night feedings for burping, a diaper change or soothing back to sleep. Or share the overnight shift by having your partner feed your little one a bottle. Yes, you’ll have to pump sometime to maintain your supply, but a few hours of solid sleep will do wonders for your energy and mood.
Comfort and convenience
Small gestures of support, like bringing you snacks you can eat with one hand and refilling your water bottle, go a long way. Or while they’re out and about, your partner can stock up on any breastfeeding items you may need, such as storage bags, nipple cream and nursing pads.
The gift of time
Time is so precious as a new mom. Taking the baby (and any older children) so you can sleep or have some downtime is a gift. If you’re exclusively pumping or working to build a stash, your partner can spend some quality time with your little one while you pump in peace. When making plans, they can show support by thinking about when and where you’ll be able to nurse or pump. Taking on more household tasks, like cleaning the kitchen, preparing a meal or doing a load of laundry also frees up time.
Talk with your partner about how you’re feeling, your breastfeeding goals and what you’re dealing with as a new mom. Open communication helps them understand when you need some space (totally touched out!) or when you’re having a hard time with your supply, clogged ducts or the baby’s latch. Your partner can cheer you on, offer kind words, advocate for you and recognize when you might need some help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
Now, how exactly do you get your partner to help out?
New parenthood can be challenging for any relationship. It might require finding new ways to communicate and support each other (especially when you’re both sleep-deprived). If you’d like your partner to pitch in, here are three approaches to try:
- Ask for help: There’s a good chance your partner wants to help and support you in breastfeeding, but they may not know-how. Don’t be afraid to ask for (and accept) help, and don’t feel like it’s an inconvenience.
- Show appreciation: Recognize your partner’s efforts and express your gratitude. Explain how the smallest thing—an hour of time or a few kind words—makes a big impact for you.
- Be a team: Work together. Help each other. This isn’t the time to keep score or compare. See your partner as the person you love and as your teammate in this new stage of life.
Other family members and friends can also carry out these helpful gestures. We all need a village of support, so find your people. This is what family and friendships are all about!
You can count on our Ashland Breast Pumps team throughout your breastfeeding journey. We’re here to help you secure your insurance-covered breast pump, connect you with a board-certified lactation consultant and support you through all the ups and downs of motherhood.