How Partners and Loved Ones Can Support Breastfeeding: Top 3 Tips

How Partners and Loved Ones Can Support Breastfeeding: Top 3 Tips

Dad holding baby
Kate Miller

About Author: Hi, I’m Kate 👋 I’m a Lactation Educator Counselor and the founder of Mighty Milk, a Baby Registry Certified Expert, and a mom of 2. I share info that helped me go from struggling with breastfeeding and pumping to thriving with both!

If you’re a partner or loved one of someone who is expecting a baby, and you want to support breastfeeding, that’s amazing. Studies show the support of a partner– makes a big difference in a mother’s ability to breastfeed successfully. But if you’re not sure how to best support your partner and your baby, you’re in the right place. 

I’m going to share tips that made a world of difference for me, and my husband as he supported my breastfeeding relationship with my baby. By the end of this post, you’ll have learned three great ways you can offer support.

I was exactly in your shoes just a couple of years ago.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I thought I was ready. I had the perfect nursery, tons of baby gear, and a cozy recliner. But when he was born, I was blindsided by how hard breastfeeding was. I was in pain and overwhelmed. I ended up having to give up on breastfeeding before I’d hoped, and honestly I was devastated. I didn’t think I’d care so much about breastfeeding, but I felt like I was robbed of something. Like the rug was pulled out from under me. Fast forward to my second baby, and everything went smoothly with breastfeeding. I knew exactly what to do and what not to do. And at one year, he’s still nursing and drinking milk that I’ve pumped. Now I’m going teach you exactly the steps that helped me go from struggling with breastfeeding and pumping to thriving.

Why is breastfeeding so hard for so many parents?

First, let’s take a quick step back to understand why breastfeeding is so hard for so many parents. Have you ever wondered why breastfeeding is so hard for so many parents? When you understand the reason why so many parents struggle with breastfeeding, it can also unlock that aha moment that helps set you up for success. After all, breastfeeding is the most natural thing we do, right? Human milk has literally sustained human life for millennia. But I have a question for you. How many times have you seen breastfeeding happen up close? Under a cover doesn’t count.  If your answer is 0 times, or maybe 1 or 2, you’re in the majority. As formula replaced breastfeeding due to aggressive marketing tactics, we lost generational knowledge for how breastfeeding was designed to work. Most parents in the US and beyond have never seen breastfeeding happen up close before we do it with our own babies. Of course, it makes sense that so many parents struggle! It’s like flying blind. The good news is, learning a few fundamentals about breastfeeding can go a long way in helping your loved one reach their feeding goals. And when you understand the fundamentals, you’ll be in a better position to support your loved one / partner. These top 4 tips teach you how to support breastfeeding while explaining the fundamentals.

Tip #1: Expect your baby to need to nurse very frequently, and don’t let frequent feeding on its own make you (or your partner) nervous.

This is one of the most important things you should know about breastfeeding. Babies need to nurse very frequently, a minimum of 10-12 times a day and sometimes much more than that. Milk production works as a supply and demand system where your baby nurses very frequently, throughout the day and night. This is how your partner’s body gets the right message about how much milk to make. Newborn babies will also occasionally cluster feed, which is a period of near continuous nursing. This can be totally normal, but sometimes, one or both parents can get nervous. I’ve heard so many stories where a mother’s partner or her own mom will say, “The baby just nursed and wants to nurse again?! I think you should add in formula.” Although there might be issues with milk supply, it’s often true that the mother is making plenty of milk for the baby. But parents might give up on breastfeeding and supplement with formula even when breastfeeding is going great and the baby is in fact getting all the milk they need. And when you supplement with formula, it can make breastfeeding much more challenging. I know this first hand because it happened to me with my first baby. This isn’t anti-formula, but if a parent wants to breastfeed their baby, understanding the basics of how milk production works is very important. And knowing that frequent feeding is normal can help you understand what to expect. This brings me to Tip #2.

Tip #2: Learn the signs that breastfeeding is going well. And, on the flip side, learn the signs it’s time to get personalized help.

After your baby is born, your pediatrician will closely monitor your baby’s weight. If your baby is gaining enough weight according to their growth curve, that is a good sign that your baby is getting enough milk. You can also count your baby’s dirty diapers as another piece of the puzzle. Our full class gives you a day by day chart with what to look for. If your baby is struggling with weight gain, or you have any other concerns, that’s a sign that it’s time to get personalized professional support. If your partner is struggling with breastfeeding, they can reach out to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC, for help. These are the lactation experts with the highest credential. Pediatricians are NOT lactation experts. They get very minimal lactation training. IBCLCs can help with lots of things. Milk supply, nipple pain, pumping, bottle feeding, the list goes on. Many US insurance plans cover IBCLC visits. Challenges with feeding can snowball quickly. So, if your partner is up for it, encourage them to reach out for help early and often, always respecting their wishes and following their lead.

Tip #3: Pull your weight by being extra helpful

Of course, it’s a good idea to ask your partner what would be most helpful. But here are some ideas on how you can take initiative. You can help your partner get comfortable while they’re nursing by offering to place pillows in a way that feels supportive to them. You can bring them water, snacks, and meals while they’re feeding the baby. You can clean bottles and pump parts if your partner is pumping. If your partner needs a break – maybe to take a shower or eat a meal- you can strap your baby to a carrier and take them for a walk. If it’s cold or rainy out you can even just bounce inside to music. It’s a great way for you to bond with your baby, and carriers tend to keep babies happy. You can also use the opportunity to give your baby some tummy time. If you’re gone for the day, consider taking the baby when you come back home to give your partner a break. And never underestimate the power of verbal encouragement. Saying something simple like, “you’re doing amazing” can really make a big difference.

Can you imagine what a difference it would make for postpartum life if breastfeeding was going well, and you felt confident and calm?

One thing that is not talked about enough is how much of an outsized role breastfeeding plays in postpartum life. Feeding your baby IS postpartum life. If your partner is a first time mom, maybe she’s like me when I was pregnant with my first baby. I had imagined peacefully rocking my baby in his adorable nursery, everything quiet and calm. But the reality for so many of us is so different. Because when breastfeeding isn’t going well, it can color EVERYTHING. It can impact how you feel about your transition to motherhood. How you feel about your partner. How you feel about your life. But the opposite can also be true. When breastfeeding is going smoothly, the anxiety quiets. The stress and overwhelms drops. Sure, you’ll still be tired and underslept, and you still probably have dishes piling up in the sink, but when you have this confidence, it is a huge shift. And it can make all the difference how you are able to adjust to your new life with your baby.

Maybe you’ll cross your fingers and hope that breastfeeding will go well. Or maybe you’ll comb through Youtube videos or social media groups, trying to piece together advice. But who knows how trustworthy that information will be, and whether it will actually help you. OR you can make the choice to invest in your breastfeeding relationship by following the guidance of an IBCLC who has helped hundreds of families overcome breastfeeding challenges and reach their goals. All of this in just one class, with a few hours of video that can make the difference between whether or not you’re able to reach your breastfeeding goals.

My breastfeeding journey with my babies inspired me to help other families avoid the frustration and difficulty that I felt. I teamed up with the amazing lactation consultant who was literally life changing for me and my family. She is why I was able to breastfeed my second baby successfully. She has worked with hundreds of families reach their feeding goals and now she can help you, too. 

I want to invite you and your partner to Mighty Milk’s Breastfeeding for Expectant class (we also offer a class called Breastfeeding Your Baby for parents of babies 0-12 weeks who are struggling with breastfeeding.) This class is exactly all of the information that helped me have a successful breastfeeding relationship. And it made a huge difference in helping me have a happier, less stressful transition to postpartum life than I did with my first baby. The class is broken  down into short videos that you can watch all at once or over time. So you can change the course of your postpartum life, just by sitting on your couch for an hour or two. Watching with your partner is a great way to get on the same page and bond before your baby arrives.

In this course you’ll learn:

  • What’s normal with a breastfed baby
  • All about building your milk supply
  • How to position your baby to avoid nipple pain
  • How to tell if your baby is hungry
  • How to tell if your baby is swallowing
  • How you can tell when breastfeeding is going well—and when to get help
  • Tips for maximizing nighttime sleep
  • How to get started with pumping and bottle feeding
  • Adjusting to life with a breastfed baby
  • How to get out of the house
  • Nutrition, coffee, alcohol, and medication
  • And so much more

Our classes are rated 5/5 stars on Facebook from parents that have been in your shoes.

Mighty Milk Expectant Parents Class

I want to make this extra easy for you. I want you to succeed. I want you to be able to have a rewarding breastfeeding relationship, by the way that includes pumping, for as long as you would like. So I’m offering a guarantee. If you finish the class and you’re not satisfied, let me know, and I’ll make it right. Even if you’ve taken a breastfeeding class at your hospital, take this class. I took one with my first baby and it didn’t teach me in the way I needed to learn. Mighty Milk’s class is different. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Click here to sign up and boost your confidence starting immediately. Hope to see you inside!

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