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Even if your breastfeeding partner is able to stay at home with baby the job is still a very demanding one. In fact, being a stay at home mom has it's own challenges when it comes to socialization and adult interaction.
It's hard having a tiny life completely reliant on you for nutrients. Babies in the first few weeks of their life are ferocious eaters, and it isn't odd to have a baby that seems to be latched on 247.
Finding time to cook, clean, or even just take care of yourself can be difficult for any new parent. With the frequency and duration that some babies nurse this can be particularly true for breastfeeding moms.
Breastfeeding can and sometimes does pose extra obstacles for new moms. While it may seem like she only has to "whip them out" and get to feeding, that isn't the case for most of us.
Breastmilk digests faster than formula - meaning babies eat more frequently and often for longer periods of time than they would with formula. And breastfeeding is all about supply and demand - meaning even when mom wants to take a break and switch off, she still has to pump. It's a common sentiment among breastfeeding mothers of newborns that it feels like that's ALL you are doing.
Consider this - most breastfed babies will nurse 8-12 times a day, from anywhere around 20 minutes upwards of an hour. That could be anywhere between 3-12 hours of nursing A DAY. No wonder it can feel like that's all we're getting done!
Thankfully, there are quite a few things you can do to help lighten the load for your partner! Here are ten ways you can help a breastfeeding mama out:
#1 Absolutely do not ever tell her how to breastfeed
Unless you’re a breastfeeding guru with actual knowledge of latching a baby on and helpful tips to offer, then do NOT tell her to breastfeed a certain way. Don't tell her that you expect her to cover when she nurses, don't tell her that it embarrasses you when she does it in public, and don't tell her she needs to stop nursing to get her sex drive back for you.
That is not your decision to make. Those are not your breasts to dictate. Period. You do not have any more right to control how your partner breastfeeds than you do to dictate how she gives birth - and doing either crosses a serious line.
For both of your sakes please do not do this. There's really no good comparison I can give you of a ridiculous, overbearing request that could be made of a man that is anywhere near this magnitude, but please just trust me on this one.
I'm lucky enough that I had a wonderful partner who is endlessly supportive of my journey breastfeeding. I can't imagine hearing something so ridiculously possessive and unsupportive come out of his mouth. I probably would have wanted to rip his nads off and it would have made me lose a serious amount respect for him, especially as someone who has been in abusive controlling relationships before.
Breastfeeding is tough as hell at times, and making it about your personal comfort vs. what your partner is struggling with is NOT in any way supportive.
#2: Set up a nursing station for her
This one can be particularly helpful if you partner had a c-section or difficult vaginal delivery that is making getting around hard. Set up a small area with easy to reach pillows, snacks, diapers, wipes, books, a drink, chargers, and other things your partner wants to have close by. This can make a world of difference for a difficult recovery.
#3 Help out with other children
One of the biggest things you can do to help your partner is help take care of any other children you may have. Establishing milk supply can be difficult while juggling the care of other children, particularly if they are at that age when they get into everything. Even just giving them a bath and getting them ready for bed can take a load off your partner's shoulders and allow them to actually sit down and nurse for once!
#4 Straighten up around the house
Whether you take a few minutes to help out yourself or you hire a cleaner to come in occasionally, this move will help more than you can know. Cleaning often gets set to the side for more important duties like nursing and changing the baby.
Breastfed babies often poop at every feeding, meaning that can be a seemingly constant cycle that makes it hard to get much else done. Chances are your partner is really, really trying to stay on top of everything so definitely don't point fingers if you notice things are little more messy than usual - do the mature thing and just chip in.