At the beginning of my breastfeeding adventure, when there were some serious struggles, my partner had the opportunity to learn more about my breasts than I’m sure he ever cared to learn. So much good came of it, though, and he totally stepped up when and where I needed him to. In fact, I’d venture to say that there are things every grown-ass man can do when his partner is struggling with breastfeeding. I mean, his involvement was crucial, so much so that it had me thinking that perhaps I’ve been missing out by not discussing my breasts with more people in other stages of my life. Since I’ve been a breastfeeding mom, there’s so much to be said about them (not that there wasn’t before, but lactation just brings it to a whole new level).
Seriously though, a partner’s involvement with breastfeeding can be imperative to a new mom and whether or not she is successful, since the stakes can feel super-high right from the get-go. While juggling all the crazy responsibilities that come with a newborn, being unable to feed them smoothly can make the world feel like it’s crashing down (no, I’m not exaggerating, why do you ask?). Plus, feeding and sustaining another a baby shouldn't be just one person's responsibility, even if a mother decides and is able to breastfeed. There are so many things a grown-ass man can do when his partner is breastfeeding, to help her and their baby through their breastfeeding journey.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how partners can help lighten a mom’s breastfeeding load when she's having trouble, shall we?
He Offers Unconditional Support, Encouragement, And Snacks
Part of me is like, "blame it on the new mom hormones!" but the reality was, even without the extra hormones pulsing through me, I probably would have still been a bit of a mess when it came to breastfeeding and the struggles I was experiencing. I did not have an easy time, and the entire experience made me feel like I was somehow failing at being a mother. Thankfully, my partner stepped up to the challenge and totally made me feel supported (and fed) and able to tackle breastfeeding like a boss.
He Supplies An Endless Supply Of Chilled Beverages
You might be asking, doesn't this fall under the aforementioned snacks? No. No, it does not. The snacks I've previously mentioned are meant to comfort and bring temporary enjoyment. The chilled beverages mentioned here are crucial in assisting a breastfeeding mother in keeping her supply up. I'm telling you; hydration is key.
He Helps Research Potential Fixes
Thankfully (for both of us) my partner is handy with a search engine, and not afraid to make phone calls like some of us (*cough*). We both got to know a number of breastfeeding websites, as well as the staff of my doctor's office, very, very well. Honestly, having an extra set of hands to help me research and decipher what could help and what, well, couldn't, was so crucial.
He Takes On Other Responsibilities With Baby
No boobs? No problem! My husband was all about other ways to care for the baby and me. He became a diaper expert much more quickly than me, and he also had a habit of melting my heart by letting our little one snuggle on his chest.
He Attends Lactation (Or Any Other) Appointments
And, he does not complain about it. That part is crucial.
He Does Not, Under Any Circumstances, Get Weird Or Shifty When Nipples, Ducts, Mastitis, Latches, Tongue Ties, Or Any Other Lactation-Related Buzzwords Are Discussed
I mean, I have the maturity level of a pre-teen, so I wouldn't have blamed him if "nipple" did make him giggle. The fact that it didn't wasn't lost on me.
Sadly, our culture tends to get a little uncomfortable when we talk about parts of the body that the collective "we" have successfully sexualized. A grown-ass man isn'g going to get "grossed out," though, when you talk about a clogged milk duct or an infection. These are pretty normal reactions to breastfeeding and, in the end, a breast is just a body part.
He Comes Up With His Own Suggestions And Ways To Help
Extra pillows? Soft lighting? A shift in position? Another attempt at a latch? All good ideas, and all things that a grown-ass man might come up with.
Doesn't Judge Her If/When She Decides Not To Breastfeed...
If breastfeeding becomes too painful or uncomfortable or seemingly impossible, a grown-ass man isn't going to judge his partner when/if she decide she just can't do it anymore. He will remind her, instead, that the goal is have the baby fed, and if it is better for mom and baby if that means turning to formula then, by all means, bring on the formula.
...But Will Kindly Reminder Her About Her Breastfeeding Goals
At the same time, a grown-ass man will remember that breastfeeding was something his partner wanted to experience and give their child, so he'll kindly (and respectfully) remind her of that. He'll cheer her on and tell her she can do it and remind her of her end game. Don't confuse this with pressure, of course, but sometimes we all need a dose of perspective to remember what it is we're really working towards.
He Makes Sure His Partner Knows She's Doing Awesomely In Other Areas
Okay, so maybe breastfeeding isn't going as well as hoped. Surely something is going smoothly, right? Perhaps you're a crackerjack baby snuggler, or maybe you have the best voice for lullabies that ever existed, or you could even be the fastest diaper changer in the west. Whatever you're doing well, he should definitely tell you.