Helping Your Partner Bond with Baby
While you may be physically responsible for nursing, partners are critical to breastfeeding success.
Most partners, friends, and family members are desperately looking for opportunities to help, but feel a little lost on where to begin. Here are 10 ways they can help you out.
- Really the only thing your partner can't do is breastfeed. Everything else – from comforting crying babies to playing to changing diapers — is a win, win, win: rewarding for the baby, satisfying for partners, and a great help to mom.
- Extra hands at night can be so helpful. If baby is in a separate room or the bassinet is out of reach from the bed, have your partner be responsible for bringing them to you in the middle of the night. They can also help put the baby back to sleep after the night time feed.
- A critical job is to watch for signs of postpartum depression. Warn them to watch for these symptoms: excessively restless or irritable; feeling sad, depressed or crying a lot; listless; or experiencing headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations, numbness, or hyperventilation. Have them contact a medical professional immediately if they think you could be experiencing PPD.
- You know your partner wants to bond with baby, but make clear that you want – and intend – to breastfeed. It will take you and baby about four weeks to firmly establish breastfeeding, and introducing a bottle too early could affect your supply and possibly derail breastfeeding success[EL1] . Tell them that you need them as your cheerleader, offering support and encouragement, especially around any breastfeeding concerns that may arise.
- Send your partner and baby out for a walk for some “bonding” time while you rest.
- What you’ve heard is true: happy mom, happy family. Task your partner with helping to pick up around the house, put together a meal, or run errands, so you can focus on nursing and the baby.
- Visitors or family with well meaning - but unsolicited - advice often backfires. Make your partner responsible for helping to shield you from these “words of wisdom.”
- Nursing can sometimes be challenging, especially early on. Ask your partner to be your cheerleader. There are long term health benefits for the entire family if you breastfeed, so make sure they understand why you want to breastfeed and ask them to cheer you on each step of the way.
- A baby shakes up the entire household, especially for older siblings. If possible, have your partner take time off from work and do activities with the other kids. This helps everyone transition to the new family dynamic, and also gives you time to tend to the baby and rest.
- There’s a lot of change, but the one constant should be your relationship. While you’re bonding with the new baby, don’t forget to nurture your couple relationship, too.