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!