Breastfeeding is a journey for your family, not just for baby and mom. Here’s how you can get involved

No one said breastfeeding was going to be easy, but sometimes, especially when you are just getting started, it can be really, really hard. Like everything else in life, when it comes to overcoming obstacles, it’s best to tackle them as a team. Having a support system is crucial to breastfeeding success: when mom succeeds, baby feeds, and that’s what really matters. Here are some tips to help dads and co-parents get involved.

1. Give her encouragement

A simple “Thanks for being you” note on the bathroom mirror can do the trick, but making your words of encouragement specific to mom’s breastfeeding journey will be all the more meaningful. Start by getting on the same page with your family’s breastfeeding goals. Do you want to do skin to skin in the hospital? How many months would you like to try to breastfeed?

By answering these questions together, you’ll kick off the breastfeeding process with a shared understanding of your partner’s goals and expectations.

2. Keep her hydrated and fed!

In those early days, mom is going to be so tired she might forget to eat and drink. To nurse effectively, mom has to be healthy, which means eating right and drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is important for keeping up her milk supply, so show be proactive by keeping her glass full! Also, nursing moms are known to get pretty hangry. Gone are the days where mom is a girl on the go easily feeding herself or ordering food in on a whim.  Go the extra mile and assemble some grab-and-go snacks on Monday so she’s fully prepared for the week’s nursing and pumping sessions, or prepare for some tearful/hangry phone calls while you are away from the house. Pre-cut fruits, vegetables, and baggies of cheese and crackers make great, filling snacks. By helping her stay healthy, you show mom that you support her decision to nurse and are behind her every step of the way!

3. Take an active role in nighttime feedings

Once the baby has established a healthy feeding schedule, dads can pick up one of the nighttime feeding sessions to give mom a longer stretch of sleep. Or, if mom is handling the nursing, jump in after the feeding to change, soothe and swaddle the baby so she can get some shut eye.

Those middle-of-the-night sessions are an especially taxing time, and a great opportunity for you to jump in, whether you’re grabbing a bottle and soothing and swaddling the baby post feeding. Even if this isn’t part of your normal routine, mom might just need to catch up on sleep, so go ahead and jump in however you can.Moms, this is when your free insurance covered breast pump will be an absolute lifesaver.  

4. Clean her pump parts when she gets home from work

Pumping at work is a serious time commitment. Give mom a few extra minutes of downtime by cleaning those pump parts and helping her repack her pumping bag each night when she gets home from work. It’s so simple, but after spending the whole day pumping at work, it’ll mean the world her. Anything to keep her from having to scramble during her already crazy morning.

5. Burp, diaper & soothing time = Dad time

When mom’s done nursing, swoop in like the superman you are and take the wheel from there. Mom will likely be tired from nursing, but the job isn’t over when the baby’s full. If your baby needs burps, step up as your team’s Official Burper. Handle the diaper change before or after nursing and give mom some space to clean up, dress or just shut her eyes for a few moments. If there’s a middle-of-the-night cry that isn’t food-related, be the first line of defense. As crazy as it might seem now, you’ll look back on the 3 a.m. wake up cries fondly when your little one gets bigger.

By taking an active role in mom’s breastfeeding routine, you support and encourage her efforts to nurse and grow closer to your partner and your baby. Working as a team nurtures the bond you share as parents, and having a common goal keeps you on the same page. Don’t wait around for her to ask for your help—take the lead, try these tips, and make breastfeeding a challenge you overcome together! For more advice on how to make breastfeeding easy on your growing family, flip through our Bumpy Road Blog on your own for tips from Ashland experts: it’s not just for moms!