Breastfeeding your infant is very important to the overall health and well-being of your new baby. However, it is not always easy. Both the baby and the mom need to learn how to accomplish this task. The first few days of nursing requires support and patience and guidance. And while the breast milk does come from the mother’s breast, there are plenty of ways that a mother’s partner can help to nurse the baby successfully.
Tip #1: Take care of mom.
Make sure that mom is eating, drinking and sleeping. Taking care of her basic needs helps reduce stress and this will allow her milk supply to improve. There is a tendency for new parents to want to stay up 24 hours a day, which is exhausting and usually decreases the amount of mom’s milk. In addition, it may fall to the mother’s partner and support team to limit visitors. Only immediate family and very close friends should visit in the first two weeks of life.
Tip #2: Help the infant to be positioned correctly on the breast.
When the baby is positioned correctly, the infant can latch or connect to the breast. It is this latch which is crucial to helping the baby suck breast milk from the mother’s breast. If the latch is incorrect, the mom will have sore nipples and the baby will be fussy because they are hungry. Helping to position will include tasks such as helping mom with pillow or poppy placement, advising mom if the baby is latching directly to the breast and not the nipple and helping mom find a comfortable position.
Tip #3: Help care for your infant.
In addition to nursing, an infant requires changing, bathing, rocking, burping and calming. In essence, having a newborn requires a lot of effort from both parents. So, by offering to do the many other tasks involved in caring for a young infant, you will lessen the burden for mom and this will allow her to devote more time to breastfeeding.
Tip #4: Don’t forget skin to skin.
We have learned that placing new infants on bare skin is important for the development of healthy skin and immune systems. This is something that fathers can do just as easily as mommies. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to bond with your new infant while also sharing your skin flora to help strengthen your infant’s skin defenses.
Tip #5: Own the decision to breastfeed.
The decision to breastfeed should be a family decision. As pediatricians, we know that breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for your baby. As the baby’s parent, you can support your infant’s mother by encouraging her to nurse and deflecting any negative comments. When talking about giving your infant breast milk, remind your infant’s mother that this is a decision you support and that you are so proud of the effort that she is continuing to do to give your infant a great start to their life.