Breastfeeding, whether you are doing it for the first time or are a veteran, can sometimes come with challenges and emotions that can be difficult for you to navigate on your own. While some may be surprised, there are things that your partner can do to help you through the experience, even though they are not physically involved in this process.
- Your partner can be present for you emotionally. Your hormones are already going to be in flux as your body adjusts to your and your baby’s physical needs postpartum, but if you are also having a hard time breastfeeding that can add to your emotional load. Tell your partner that you need support and nurturing. Whether it is simple encouragement, physical touch, or holding the space for you to release, the act of being present with you can be a major balm for your heart.
- Your partner can help you find information. With our first daughter, I did not know how to breastfeed. I wasn’t aware of what a proper latch looked like (or felt like) and for the first two weeks my nipples were very sore because she was only latching onto them. And I developed mastitis to top it off (which I developed with our second child as well). My husband helped me to figure out what a proper latch looked like. He would physically help me adjust our baby’s body and head until it worked. He brought me pillows when he felt it could help. When I developed mastitis he spoke with our doctors/midwives to find out what would help to resolve the issues and how he could help. At one point it hurt so bad that I was afraid to breastfeed, and he talked me through it and encouraged me to push through it because he knew how badly I wanted to breastfeed and he felt that it was what was best for our babies. I am forever grateful that he was there for me in those ways as I was in no mind to do it alone.
- Your partner can advocate on your behalf. It is more common than not to run into at least one unsupportive person who doesn’t understand the benefits of breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding) who has no problem letting you know their opinion on the subject. Having someone you love stand up for you and your choices, and even try to educate someone who may otherwise bring you down is empowering and lets you know that you are not alone.
Even if you do not have a partner, a good friend or family member can help ease some of the challenges of breastfeeding by supporting you in any way that they can. Please do not be afraid to ask for help when you feel that you need it. This is an important time for you and your baby, and any assistance can make the difference between feeling helpless and feeling nurtured.