Easy breastfeeding tips for awesome new dads who actively support new moms in their breastfeeding goals.
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I benefitted from having a partner that supported breastfeeding during highs and lows. We were on the same page. If I had wanted to quit breastfeeding at any time, my partner would have supported me in that. But he knew I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible and he helped me to meet my breastfeeding goals. I thought it might be useful to suggest a few relatively easy ways partners can help with breastfeeding. This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it can work as a starting point. I’d love to help couples in the newborn phase work together as much as possible!
1. Keep The Feeding Log
In the early days of breastfeeding, many lactation consultants and pediatricians recommend logging when you feed your baby and for how long. This is exactly the kind of thing I am likely to resist. There are feeding apps. You can press start and stop buttons. It honestly isn’t that difficult, but I’m just not into it. During the first few weeks with our newborn, my husband kept yellow legal pads with a list of every time I fed the baby and for how long. He even kept the log in the middle of the night, when we usually were up every 2-4 hours. I had a love/hate relationship with the log itself, but we kept it until we were certain we had breastfeeding down and our baby was growing at a healthy rate. Because my husband kept the log, he knew exactly how much time I was spending in the rocking chair with our baby. I knew that although I was struggling to master this new skill, I wasn’t alone.
Here’s a printable feeding log from Medela for reference.
2. Make A Bottle Station
When I was pumping we kept a bottle station in our kitchen near the sink using the Boon grass, stem, and twig system. I hardly ever dealt with the bottle station because it was my husband’s job. There, I could always find clean bottles and bottle parts, breast milk storage bags, spare pump parts, and clean pump parts. He made sure the bottle station was organized and well stocked so I was never looking around for a bottle cap or one of those tiny white pump membranes. (P.S. Make sure you both review the CDC’s new guidelines for properly cleaning your breast pump!)
3. Read/Watch How to Use a Breast Pump
One of my friends initially felt intimidated by her breast pump. So her husband watched the instructional videos and explained to her how the machine would work! It’s a funny story (even to them) but I get it: sometimes learning about how to use so many new baby-related devices is just a pain. Sometimes doing things together is more fun— even learning how to use a breast pump.
4. Clean and Sanitize Bottles & Pump Parts
I hardly ever washed bottles or pump parts myself. I put them in the sink and magically they appeared in the organized bottle station the next time I looked. My husband washed all the feeding and pumping supplies by hand in hot soapy water, then sanitized in the amazing Medela microwave steam bags. He liked the OXO bottle brush because it has a built-in nipple brush in the handle. Munchkin just came out with a new stainless steel bottle brush that also has the built-in nipple brush feature.
5. Attend a Breastfeeding Class Together
In addition to the birthing class we took, we spent one evening in a breastfeeding class. The more informed both partners are, the more likely you are to succeed. Though this class only covered the basics, it definitely highlighted some of the benefits of breastfeeding which can be helpful to have front-of-mind in the beginning.
Did you know there are affordable on-demand breastfeeding courses available online? I bought Lactation Link’s three video bundle and referred to it constantly in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. When I had my second child, I rewatched the courses to get a good refresher on nursing a newborn! I highly recommend this option. I found it even more helpful than the class we attended together in person.
Here’s a paper on why women with strong social support from their partner are more likely to breastfeed.
6. Know Storage & Handling Rules
I breastfed exclusively, but for many months we tried to bottle feed 1-2 times a week just so the baby would have this necessary skill and I could have some time away to myself! There are lots of funny things about milk storage that I didn’t know until I had a child, including that breastmilk should not be microwaved. We used and loved the Kiinde Kozii bottle warmer. Here’s a link to some materials on breastmilk storage for you to review:
7. Check In
We had numerous discussions about how I felt about breastfeeding. I appreciated these regular check-ins particularly in the first four months because so much of my time was spent breastfeeding. I’ve felt all kinds of emotions about it and as a couple, we have talked through many of them. I felt supported from the beginning. I felt supported in my choice to continue past one year.
In Summary: Work Together
Overall, I want to encourage you to work together! Whether it’s by following some of the suggestions in this list or coming up with your own ideas, it’s so helpful for a breastfeeding mom to have all the support she can get from her partner. Do you have other ideas about how a partner can help with breastfeeding? I’m sure there are many different ways that women can feel supported and loved as they acquire and practice this new skill with their babies!
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My name is Kate and I live in a California beach town with my husband & baby girl. At High Low Baby, I review baby products at high and low price points.