Hey Uncle, I am a new parent, how do I support my girlfriend during breastfeeding? I still feel a little weird about it.
You are settling into a new role of support. It’s great you are wanting to help out during this time. You’re acknowledging the weird and preparing yourself to be of help. Biggest support that you can be, is to normalize a natural process and open up communication around breastfeeding by creating space to learn together. It is difficult so be encouraging. Simply, wherever you are -- make them feel comfortable.
Acknowledge each partners role
Like a lot of things, I’d encourage you to start with a conversation with your partner.
- Are they comfortable breastfeeding?
- How can you support their needs?
- Are they comfortable in public?
- If so, do they need a cover or prefer no cover?
- What kind of support system do they currently have? Parents, aunties, you, etc.?
Always try to be aware of what the best choice is for your family unit. Clear and effective communication goes a long way!
Information is important!
Just because you aren’t the one breastfeeding doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what is all involved with breastfeeding. This is important as a partner. Information can be hard to grasp and the rate information is coming at you can be quick! Being able to do research and present it in a way that is both understanding and thoughtful are helpful.
One of the hardest things a new parent faces is information overload and timely decision making. This can be difficult for a mother who has just given birth and is exhausted and overwhelmed. They are healing while supporting a new infant. So, understanding basic information and helping your partner understand can demonstrates your support in a thoughtful, caring way.
Remind them and reassure them: (in a strength-based tone)
- To eat, snack and stay hydrated.
- They are amazing for sustaining life!
- Their mental health is important!
- If they’re concerned about their bodily changes, acknowledge their concerns and provide reassurance-which happens because of the baby’s needs; it’s natural and beautiful.
Breastfeeding, and the experience between mother and daughter is and has been a great gift and beauty to behold. It’s not easy! So any help goes a long way! It is a bonding experience for you, the mother and of course, your creation….baby.