Providing Partners with the Resources They Need to Contribute to the Breastfeeding Experience
As the partner of a mom breastfeeding, you should make every effort to stay involved in the breastfeeding experience. By doing so, you can make life easier for your partner and feel more connected to your baby. Our lactation consultants are available at all times to provide you with breastfeeding tips and guidance on how to play a vital role in the baby feeding experience.
How Your Baby Benefits from Breastfeeding
Congratulations! Your partner has chosen to breastfeed. Your involvement during the weeks following the birth of your baby is important. Here are some facts to help you support mother and baby during this time.
Benefits of breastfeeding for your baby:
- Breast milk is the perfect food for babies and contains all the nutrients your growing your growing baby needs.
- Reduces rates of infection. Human milk and colostrum (the early milk) contain antibodies to help fight infection. Breast fed babies have lower rates of:
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Some childhood cancers
- Obesity (overweight)
- Breast milk is very important for premature babies. It helps to protect them from infection and aids in their growth and development.
Breastfeeding benefits your partner by:
- Helping to decrease the blood lost after delivery.
- Decreasing the risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer.
- Decreasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Economical and costs less than formula feeding. Formula costs $2,000 (or more) per year depending on the type of formula used.
- Convenient because breast milk is always the right temperature and does not need any special preparation or equipment.
How Long Should a Mother Breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months. After 6 months, continued breastfeeding with the addition of other foods for at least one year or longer as mom and baby desire.
Your baby will tell you he or she is hungry by giving “feeding cues” (bringing his or her hands to mouth or face, making sucking movements, rooting or turning toward anything that touches baby’s lips or face, darting tongue in and out and baby actively moving or wiggling body).
Because breast milk is quickly and easily digested, your baby will want to nurse frequently, at least, 8 to 16 times or more in 24 hours. Some babies will cluster feed, or eat hourly, several times in a row. This does not mean your partner does not have enough milk.
How to Support Your Partner While She Breastfeeds
- Help your partner into a comfortable breastfeeding position.
- If your baby is sleepy, wake baby by tickling or unwrapping and bring baby to mom for feeding.
- Help with housework, such as dishes, laundry, preparing snacks/meals and cleaning.
- Answer the phone or door if mom is feeding.
- Help with baby care, such as bathing, diapering, rocking and playing with your baby.
- Help care for older children.
- If your baby is in the hospital: help mom with cleaning breast pump parts, delivering breast milk to the hospital and spending time holding baby skin-to-skin.
- Tell her you are proud of her for breastfeeding and offer encouraging words like, “You can do it”.
- Be supportive of your partner’s choice to breast feed by explaining the benefits of breastfeeding to well-meaning family and friends who may not understand the benefits of breast milk.
The Effect of Breastfeeding on Sexuality
- Your partner may not initially have the same interest in sex as before the baby was born. This is true even for women who are formula feeding.
- Avoid sexual relations until your partner has healed and talks with her healthcare provider about birth control.
- Your partner’s vagina may not be as moist or slippery during intercourse. There are products which will improve vaginal slipperiness/moisture which are available at any pharmacy or grocery store.
- The hormones involved in the process of breastfeeding are also involved during sexual response. Women may feel sleepy, relaxed or sensual while breastfeeding.
- Milk may leak from your partner’s breasts during arousal. It will help if she breastfeeds your baby before sexual intercourse.
- Breastfeeding may decrease the risk of pregnancy and delay menstruation, but it is not a reliable form of birth control.
Tips on Modesty While Breastfeeding
You or your partner may feel uncomfortable at the thought of your partner’s breasts being exposed while breastfeeding. With practice, your partner will soon be able to nurse the baby discreetly, so that even persons nearby won’t know your partner is feeding the baby unless she wants them to know.
Key Points for Partners
A Final Word to Partners
- Having a new baby is a wonderful and exciting time.
- If you feel jealous or angry, talk about your feelings.
- You will be able to take better care of your partner and new baby if you take good care of yourself!
- Remember, the first few weeks are the most challenging.
Lawrence, Ruth A. & Lawrence, Robert M. “Breastfeeding, A Guide for the Medical Professional.” Eighth edition, ELSEVIER, 2016.