The majority of women plan to breastfeed but in our formula culture it can be really difficult to get it up and running. Having partner support can make or break a breastfeeding relationship. The ever present nature of formula culture can also make it difficult for friends and family to offer genuine support to new mothers who are struggling to feed. Here’s a few things partners can do to make it easier.
What NOT to do:
Don’t make comments about low supply. Learn how supply works and the genuine signs of low supply so that you aren’t going to put her off. The vast and overwhelming majority of women make an elegant sufficiency of milk, it’s just formula culture that has us believing otherwise.
Don’t bring bottles or artificial milk into the house. Women who have access to formula are far less likely to succeed.
Don’t say “as long as she’s not hungry, that’s all that matters, you tried your hardest” UNLESS you are beyond certain that the problems your partner is experiencing aren’t just the product of formula culture.
Have the phone number of your local breastfeeding support network on the fridge.
What TO do:
Learn all the health benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby so that you can be as informed and enthusiastic as possible.
Help get her settled in and comfy. Get Mum a glass of water, give her the remote control, keep other children occupied. Breastfeeding a new baby or an older baby that is unwell or teething or just having a hard day can take quite a bit of time.
In the early days it can take a lot of patience and hard work so be there for her. Hold her hand. Say lots of nice things and take lots of photos.
Spend time with your baby but leave the feeding part to mum. If the only way you can think of to bond with your new baby is through food it’s time to go back to the drawing board! Take a bath with baby, sing a sing, have a cuddle and a walk around the house, introduce your baby to the dog and cat, but feeding is something that’s just between a mother and a baby.
Be the partner everyone wishes they had, be the partner that your partner adores, be the father your baby needs! You will never breastfeed a baby, but you can make or break a breastfeeding relationship with your actions and attitude.
If breastfeeding is the way to go - why do so many women have difficulties in carrying out the function. What did women do long before the Breastfeeding Association was founded ? And, how do women go breastfeeding a difficult feeder when there are say, two older siblings, and the three children are all close in age ? Like, who does the other incidentals like cooking, cleaning, washing, kindy run, school run etc. etc.