A comedian said “It used to be an entertainment center. Now it’s a juice bar.” Boobies and babies and breastmilk will take over your life, so make it fun and enjoyable for all of you. Just don’t ask for cream for your coffee…
Making the change from just the two of you to a threesome can be challenging, but when you see your partner contentedly nursing, and your child peacefully sleeping on her lap, it’s fulfilling as well.
Breastfeeding is an integral part of natural or attachment parenting. Fathers can support their partners and babies by being in touch with their needs and meeting them in a mindful way.
Tips for Nurturing a Breastfeeding Mother
- Help her set up her nursing nest. Having a special place just for nursing will help create a tranquil atmosphere for both mom and baby. It may be a rocking chair, a recliner, or a comfy corner of the couch. Make sure that she has plenty of pillows for supporting her and propping up baby, a low table to hold water, food, reading material, and a light. A big fat candle will help when she just needs a little illumination (try a natural beeswax candle, scented with lavender).
- Make sure she has water to drink at all times. Find a special extra large glass or mug (a large mason jar is perfect) that you are going to keep full for her. A breastfeeding mother will need to be drinking at least as much water as when she was pregnant, probably more. Be her water-bearer and make sure that it’s always within reach.
- Feed her. She still needs to eat for two, and having easy nutritious snacks on hand will help her to keep her energy up during the early days of night feedings and all-day baby care. Fruit is great for quick pick-me-ups, and a bowl of snack mix (GORP, nuts and dried fruit) can be kept right next to the nursing nest (remember the low table?). Try a Korean Seaweed soup.
- Set out her prenatal vitamins with her water every day. It’s one less thing for her to think about, and your child and your wife will both be nurtured.
- Make her nursing tea to sip throughout the day. During the summer, set out sun tea to brew in the morning. Strain it and keep in the fridge for a cool refreshing beverage that nurtures and hydrates her.
- Massage her. Touch her. Give her a neck and shoulder rub. Make a warm foot bath to soak her tootsies while she nurses. When baby is sleeping, give her a more involved massage, telling her that you love her and are thankful for all of the energy that she pours into your child.
- Take over the household for her. Do the dishes, clean up after yourself, do the shopping and prepare the meals. The more time you can give her with your baby, the better. After pregnancy and birth, and now breastfeeding, she can use a break whenever you can give it to her.
- Be a champion burper. Well, not you burping, but you burping the baby. When your child has that drunken sailor look, put him over your shoulder and rub his back (some mellow music is good for bonding and burping – I like Bob Marley, Woodie Guthrie, or Simon and Garfunkel). Check the diaper and change it before laying him down for a nap (who likes to sleep in wet pants?).
- Wear that baby. If you can put your baby into a carrier or sling, take them for a walk or just wear them around the house. Mama will love you for suggesting that she have some personal time each day to take a bath, do yoga, go for a run or bike ride, etc. Find a time that works for both (all three) of you, and do it regularly. If she’s relaxed and refreshed and nurtured, she’ll have time for you, as well.
- Take the kids for some papa time. If you have older kids, now is a great time to start your own rituals with them (and not just hauling them with you to the coffee shop…). When our second child was born, I worked with our oldest on riding a two-wheeler, we went to the river and played, we did the shopping together, and we played at the park often. Kids enjoy being engaged with their dads, and it may seem to them that mom doesn’t have the time that she used to to focus on them, so they’ll love the time with you.
Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and nurture your partner as she grows your child!
High Five! I sometimes forget how my husband helped during the first few days, but your list brings it all back. He always made sure I had water…and fed me… and did the grocery shopping. Thanks for the reminder. I needed it today! 🙂
Jennifer Lance says
Derek, I think you may just be the perfect dad and partner!
Damn. Must be nice. I can’t even IMAGINE any of that. I never felt more alone and on my own than I did after our child was born.
Mrs. Domino says
I haven’t nursed for almost a year now and your blog really made me miss those times. I didn’t particularly enjoy the actual breastfeeding part, but knowing that I was doing the absolute best thing for my baby, whether I enjoyed it or not, was a good feeling! Such a privilege that only mommies know. Thanks for bringing back such good memories!
Or if she’s completely and utterly sick of being touched because she has an infant attached to her body for hours at a time, don’t touch her!
Water and snacks, though, YES! Often. Hourly, even.
Stephanie - Green SAHM says
Great points. I’ll have to email this to my husband when the new baby comes in January or February… especially the bit about taking the older kids out.
Susie Kim says
Mmmm Derek, you are awesome!!! But my EC comes really darn close. 🙂
In my breastfeeding class, the LC said the success of breastfeeding mothers depends on partner’s support. I am glad that there’s progressive fathers like you (and EC of course) to lead the way. Thanks so much.
Amy Jussel says
Wow, Derek…As one who received nada on ANY of these fronts (in fact, he traveled constantly and I was a lone wolf mama without family nearby!) I’d just like to hear how many marriage proposals you get from wide-eyed weary wives, appreciative of your consideration! 😉
You’re a tribute to manhood and an aspirational model for all dads (and daddy bloggers!) out there intent on Shaping Youth with more balance in their lives.
And mamas out there? You lucky wives of these sorts? Remember, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” ~G.B. Stern
Praise often and sincerely…Thanks for the inspirational post.
Derek Markham says
I’d love to say it comes naturally, but alas…
After several babies, though, I’ve learned a little.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for your comments!
YES! Just what a new Papa needs… truthfully nursing is the most fulfilling job my body ever underwent, however it can be very difficult to get other things accomplished when so much time is spent nourishing and nurturing a growing body. Mama’s really need help with all the other activities they do, particularly during the first few months.
Good article Derek.