I know that sometimes you might have felt left out of the pregnancy experience, since so much of it was going on in my body. And, now that we decided that I am going to be a breastfeeding mom, it may feel like there is another important process that you need to watch from the side-lines. The truth is, now that I’m a mother, you have never been more important to me!
Breastfeeding women need a strong support network and you are the first person that I want to turn to. How can you help?
Well, despite all of the progress that has been made in science, men still can’t breastfeed directly J. But, there are plenty of things that you can do to have a positive impact on our life and the life of our child every day.
Did you know that, with you by my side, my chances of successfully breastfeeding over the long-term will increase? According to the experts, a woman with a supportive husband or partner is more likely to still be breastfeeding at a year than a woman with a husband who is less involved. So, the more you help, the easier it will be for me to keep nourishing our beautiful child with precious breastmilk.
You may think that breastfeeding is “natural” and “easy.” Believe me when I say that this is not always the case! Sometimes I get confused and frightened. Other times, I’m not sure if I am doing things right. Like many new moms, I feel like I need to adapt to the world of being a “breastfeeding woman.” This means that I often feel pressure to “do it all” or avoid asking for help. By the way, if I ever say “No, I can do it myself,” please give it some time and then gently ask again.
Please know that I am reaching out to you as a gesture of trust and love. I want to give our child the best possible start in life so breastfeeding is super important to me. Here are some things that I would like you to understand so that we can go on this journey together.
Help Me with Night Feeds
Night feedings can be a lonely experience. Maybe we can share responsibilities. You can use a Calma feeding solution to feed expressed breastmilk between 8 and midnight, and I’ll do the middle of the night feeds. It may seem like a small thing, but it would really be wonderful to be able to get a few hours’ sleep.
Help Me Do Things Around the House
It’s true that I spend a lot of time, sitting down, cuddling the baby. This is great, but, nursing also makes it hard for me to get as much done around the house as I used to. Producing breastmilk and breastfeeding consumes around 500 calories per day. That’s a lot of energy for me, like going for a 2 hour hike every day! So I get tired.
Add to that, I haven’t had 8 hours of consecutive sleep in ages. I know you are also sleep deprived, working, and tired, but anything you can do to help out around the house is massively appreciated. Breastfeeding is the one thing that only I can do – you can still help with all the other stuff.
Actually, while we’re on the topic, if you’re feeling ambitious and want to break out your power tools, you could help me create my own little breastfeeding sanctuary 🙂
Say Five Magic Words To Me Every Time I Breastfeed
Do you know the 5 words that I would love to hear, every time I sit down to feed the baby? “Can I get you anything?” Sometimes, I just need a little something to be comfortable, while breastfeeding. This could be as simple as a good book or magazine, a pillow, some water, my phone charger, or a shoulder massage. “I love you so much” is also another great 5 word alternative 🙂
It’s Important for You to Understand About Breastfeeding
Just because breastfeeding involves my body doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. The first step to being able to help is simply learning about how the process works. Do you know what the term “latch” means? Have you read about breast shields, nipple shields and lanolin cream? Do you know what to expect as “normal” breastfeeding behaviour?
I’d love it if you could take the time to get a little bit better informed! Being able to use a common language will make it so much easier when I need to ask for your help.
Make Me Smile
Breastfeeding often feels like a lot of hard work – and it is! But, it doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Help me lighten the mood. Forward me funny Facebook posts, pictures or articles about breastfeeding.
Most importantly, help me see the larger picture. Remind me that there is still a world out there, filled with funny videos, important events, friends, family and plans for the future.
Remind me that night feedings will pass. Most of all, remind me of all of the reasons that we had this wonderful baby and how much fun we are going to have together as a family in the future.
Make Me Feel Like a Beautiful Woman
No matter how confident you normally are, it’s hard not to have body image issues after having a baby. Sometimes I feel overweight, dishevelled and exhausted. Other times, I struggle just to feel “myself.” I know that it’s a small thing, but, not being able to fit into my favourite outfits is a frustrating experience.
So, please tell me that I am beautiful. Remind me of how much you still want me and love me. Tell me how much you appreciate me as a mother and as a woman. Your love means the world to me.
While I am breastfeeding, I still want to feel important to you and I need your love and affection more than ever. When you come home from work, don’t just make a fuss about the baby – although, of course I want you to do this! Make a fuss of me too. I am often tired, confused, and insecure – but I love to receive your attention and affectionate contact.
Brag about me a little. You can tell our friends on Facebook that I am making sure that our baby is going to be just like you – incredibly smart and good looking!
Help Me Out:
Get “Hands On” with Breastmilk Feeding
There are many things that you can do to be more involved in the breastfeeding process. Just sitting with me, while I am nursing, can make a big difference – and not just for me. Our baby also needs to see us both together, smiling and enjoying each other’s company.
Hold the baby’s hand and smile. Sing a song. Take pictures. Have a cup of tea with me and tell us the best things about your day.
I want you to be a part of this amazing bonding experience. Remember: breastfeeding isn’t only a form of bonding for me and our baby, it can be a form of bonding for our whole family.
Be My Supporter and My Confidant
Breastfeeding can be emotionally and physically draining. Please watch for signs that I might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and gently remind me to get help if you think I need it.
Encourage me to call a lactation consultant or look for other breastfeeding support if needed. Many breastfeeding women are good at acting like we have everything under control. But, no matter how under control we appear on the outside, most of us need advice from other women who have already gone through this journey.
Help Me Get Some Time to Myself
It would be great if you could make it easy for me to have some private time and get out into the world now and again. You can help me respond to e-mails, manage appointments, and complete other tasks around the house. It may sound funny, but, perhaps the biggest gift you can give me is to let me get out to the shops for an hour. Even walking around the park or the mall for 30 minutes is heaven!
Be Patient with Me
I know that I’m not always myself, now that I’m a new mom. I do my best to stay positive, but, sometimes, it’s all I can do not to take my emotions out on others. With your busy schedule, I know that you must feel the same way. Let’s support each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt during this difficult and exciting time.
From my side, remember that inside behind this sleep-deprived, un-showered façade is the same woman you married. I still love you deeply. So, be my hero. Understand me when I’m grumpy and respond with a smile when I ask, “can you please help me with something…?”
Thanks for everything that you do to be a wonderful partner for me – and a wonderful parent for our baby! Every time I look at this little person I am reminded of the love that we share!
With love from the woman you chose to be your partner on this amazing journey!
What do you wish your spouse or partner knew about breastfeeding? Leave a comment and let us know, or join the conversation on the Medela Canada Facebook page.