As we look at the ways partners can support the birth parent (like helping with the hospital bag and swaddling), the topic of infant feeding comes up.
Feeding the baby can be a time-consuming, rewarding, and frustrating experience. All at the same time. As partners, we want to help the birth parent in any way we can. Here are four ways to help mama with feeding baby.
A newborn baby feeds every 2 to 3 hours and spends an average of 20 to 30 minutes feeding. That can add up to four hours a day. Depending on how old your baby is or how rapidly he or she is growing, that number could creep up. Partners, a straightforward way to support the birth parent in feeding the baby is giving her the gift of time. Is there an errand that can be run? A household chore that can be taken care of? Easing the burden of life’s daily happenings is one of the easiest ways to make sure your partner is supported.
It is becoming more common for public spaces to offer lactation rooms. Still, it is not always guaranteed that mama is going to have the privacy she needs to nurse the baby. Partners, while at home try making a sanctuary where feeding the baby can be the truly special time that it is. That could be as simple as a rocking chair or a special room with calming colors. And when you are out in public, we recommend a nursing cover like the one in ALL of the Lily and Llama collections. (And as a bonus- it also doubles as a car seat cover for when baby is sleeping). When creating space for mama, the important thing to remember is to make her feel safe and relaxed while feeding baby.
Do I breastfeed? Do I bottle feed? What if baby is not latching? When it comes to feeding baby, there are so. Many. Questions. That’s where a lactation consultant comes in. What is a lactation consultant? A lactation consultant is a breastfeeding expert. There is a credential from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, so check to see if your consultant has earned their credentials from the IBCLC.
Lactation specialists are the experts on nursing. They most often support mothers in how to increase milk supply, find the best nursing position, and manage breastfeeding pain. To find help, there are free services like Le Leche League and one-on-one, live feeding support services like Nurture Talk.
HELPING WITH ACTUALLY FEEDING BABY
Whether it’s bottle-feeding in the first four to six months (breastmilk? formula? That’s up to you, your partner, and your support team!) or when you start to introduce solid foods, partners, you have options for doing the actual feeding. How cool is that! Not only are you helping mama, but you are getting that all too precious bonding time with your baby. Listen, there are things about feeding baby that mama just HAS to do. These are facts. And, there will be times and situations where you can step in and do the feeding for her. Embrace these moments as something you get to do, and the joy will seep in.
Partners, we know that feeding baby is a personal experience filled with joys and pains. It can feel like there are too many questions and not enough answers. Just remember that a little bit of time, space, and support can help ease the burden. And focus on the ways you CAN step in, and not on the ways that you can’t.
And hey! Follow us on Instagram for more ways that we can help make life a little easier for mama, and you, her partner.