Javier Bardem - Jennifer Lawrence
Author: TLN

5 Ways to Get Involved in Your Partner’s Lactation Journey (And Why It Would Mean a Lot to Them)

Breastfeeding is a journey for the entire family, not just for the baby and the lactating parent. 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 the lactating parent succeeds, baby feeds, and that’s what really matters. Here are some tips to help partners and co-parents get involved.

1. Give them encouragement

A simple “Thanks for being you” note on the bathroom mirror can do the trick, but making your words of encouragement specific to their lactation 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 your partner hydrated and fed!

In those early days, lactating parents are going to be so tired they might forget to eat and drink. To nurse effectively, they have to be healthy, which means eating right and drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is important for keeping milk supply up, so be proactive by keeping the glass full! Also, nursing parents are known to get pretty hangry. Gone are the days of your partner feeding themself or ordering food on a whim. Go the extra mile and assemble some grab-and-go snacks on Monday so your partner is 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 them stay healthy, you show your partner that you support their feeding goals and are behind them every step of the way!

3. Take an active role in nighttime feedings

Once the baby has established a healthy feeding schedule, you can pick up one of the nighttime feeding sessions to give your partner a longer stretch of sleep. Or, if your partner is handling the nursing, jump in after the feeding to change, soothe and swaddle the baby so they 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 or soothing and swaddling the baby post-feeding. Even if this isn’t part of your normal routine, your partner might just need to catch up on sleep, so go ahead and jump in however you can. This is when your partner’s free insurance-covered breast pump will be an absolute lifesaver.  

4. Clean the breast pump parts when your partner gets home from work

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

5. Burp, diaper, and soothing time = your time

When your partner’s done nursing, swoop in and take the wheel from there. Your partner 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 your partner some space to clean up, dress, or just shut their 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 your partner’s breastfeeding routine, you support and encourage their 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 your partner 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 lactation easier on your growing family, flip through our Bumpy Road Blog on your own for tips from our experts at The Lactation Network!