I think it's a pretty well-established fact that breastfeeding is exhausting and challenging, even at the best of times. Especially in the beginning, there are things every breastfeeding woman needs to hear from her partner to not only feel supported, but energized enough to keep going when things get tough. And, more often than not, things almost always seem to get tough at some point.
Thinking back to my early days breastfeeding my first child, I truly can't imagine getting through our challenges without the support of my husband. My daughter initially appeared to latch with surprising ease when we were in the hospital, but when I brought her home later that day, she was no longer able to latch. It took four weeks of various alternatives before she finally did latch on her own, and during that time we tried finger feeding, cup feeding, bottle feeding and nipple shields. The entire ordeal that was my breastfeeding experience, wasn't just physically exhausting, but emotionally exhausting as well.
In those moments, and many moments since, I have felt so lucky to have had the kind of supportive partner who was by my side in the middle of the night, helping me figure out finger feeding. My partner was there to dry my tears when I admitted that I was feeling like a failure, and he was there to tell me that he knew I was doing my best, and that everything would be okay. Every woman should be so lucky.
So, if you're either breastfeeding right this second or you're pregnant and considering breastfeeding, here are 11 things every breastfeeding woman needs to hear from her partner. While breastfeeding means that one person will be doing the majority of the feeding, it definitely doesn't mean that it isn't a team effort.
"You're Doing A Great Job"
Sometimes, breastfeeding can feel like a lonely, thankless task. Your baby is not thanking you with words, and you're not really helping anyone else, so there may not be a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement happening. It really is amazing how much this one statement can keep us going, when things are hard.
"Can I Get You Some Water?"
I can't tell you how many times I sat down to breastfeed, especially in the beginning, and realized I had forgotten to bring myself a glass of water. I have a friend whose partner actually placed glasses of water throughout their house, so that wherever she sat down to breastfeed, she'd have water nearby. How great is that?
"Let Me Know How I Can Help"
Having a partner who is attentive to your needs can really make all the difference in the world, when it comes to feeling supported while breastfeeding. And if you are asked this question, don't be a martyr and turn down the offer! Take advantage of help whenever and wherever it's offered.
"I'll Make Dinner"
Those are magical, beautiful words. When you're at home all day, it can feel like an enormous pressure to make dinner as well, since you're already there. But every mom knows your day can fill up quickly, especially if you have a fussy or hungry baby. An offer to make dinner shows amazing support to a breastfeeding mom.
"Do You Need Another Pillow?"
Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that what feels comfortable at the start of a breastfeeding session can stop feeling comfortable quickly, for no apparent reason. A partner that checks in to make sure your back isn't hurting or your arm isn't getting strained is a pretty amazing partner.
"Let Me Wash The Breast Pump"
Again, these are magical words that will be treasured for years to come. This should really just be a requirement for the partners of breastfeeding moms, but sadly, that isn't the case.
We live in a society where women are scoffed at and encouraged to cover up when breastfeeding, and that can do a real number on their view of breastfeeding in general. That's why hearing their partner expressing amazement and awe at the incredible process of breastfeeding is an empowering thing for any mom.
"You Must Be Exhausted. How Can I Help Make Things Easier?"
Acknowledging how much energy it takes to constantly be feeding your baby can really help a new mom. Maybe it's taking on a night feeding, or maybe it's helping with dinner more often. Either way, helping share the load during a time when the mom has the lion's share of caregiving can really help out.
"Thank You For Nourishing Our Baby"
As I said earlier, breastfeeding moms don't hear much in the way of gratitude for the job they do. That's to be expected, of course, but it makes a single thank you from an unexpected source all the sweeter. Trust me, it will be appreciated.
"I Know Breastfeeding Must Be Hard. Tell Me How I Can Support You."
Again, that acknowledgement of how challenging things can be while breastfeeding can really help a new mom feel like she isn't alone in this. Partners who assume that because she isn't saying anything, she feels fine, definitely need to check in to make sure.
"I'll Change The Baby. You Keep Sleeping."
Please, for the love of god, let the woman sleep a little longer! She needs that extra rest. You have no idea how grateful she'll be that you offered.