Congratulations, Dad! Now that you have a newborn, you are probably realizing that life will never quite be the same for you and your baby's mom. And if she is breastfeeding, her life has drastically changed. She is going to need to be reminded of how awesome she is for choosing to nurse your new child.
Breastfeeding, especially in the beginning, is hard work for both Mom and Baby. It took my son and I about 12 weeks to really get confident with nursing, and if my husband hadn't provided so much support and encouragement, I am not sure that I would have had the energy to keep trying. Here are a few ways that you can support Mom as she establishes a nursing relationship with your baby:
Tell her she's great
Mom needs to be reminded that she is doing a good job. Being a new parent already makes her feel vulnerable, but adding in breastfeeding can be emotionally and physically rattling. Between hormones regulating and zombie-like sleep deprivation, I was beside myself worrying if my milk was in, if my son was getting enough to eat and if I was doing it right. Chances are, your partner is feeling the same way. Some simple words of encouragement and support can go a long way. You may also need to reel her in if she starts freaking out too much. When it comes down to it, if your baby is having wet diapers, your baby is eating. You are at the pediatrician's office so much during the first month that you can ask your doctor if you both have concerns about breastmilk intake.
Give her a break
After my son was born, every time he started to fuss or cry, the person who was holding him would automatically give him to me, declaring confidently that he was obviously hungry. It can be quite trying when you are constantly handed a fussy newborn and expected to fix it, especially while you are also entertaining the visitors that take over your home during the weeks after baby is born. The truth is, the baby isn't always hungry. But it can be frustrating when everyone thinks so. Help your partner out by trying to comfort the baby before automatically passing the little one off.
Respect her break
My son clusterfed and nursed for about 2 to 3 hours straight every evening for a few weeks during the second month. It was exhausting, and all I wanted was a shower without interruption. Initially, my husband was supportive. That is, until my son started screaming after I was in the shower for 10 minutes. My husband timidly knocked on the door, and my shower break was over. After a few times of jumping out of the shower with conditioner in my hair to nurse my son, my husband and I both realized it was crazy. I only needed 15 minutes, so he made it his mission to make sure that happened for me. I cannot express how thankful I was for this simple, kind act because my mama guilt would have pulled me out of the shower every time.
Take the graveyard shift
I have heard numerous stories from breastfeeding friends who cry and yell about how their husbands do not help at all at night. When the midnight hours are full of diapers, burp cloths, boppy pillows and boobs and you are doing it all on your own, it can get lonely quite quickly. While it is important that Mom nurses on demand in order to keep her supply going, you can be part of the night shift, too. My husband changed the diapers before passing our son over to me to nurse. While I was definitely still up for a longer period of time, it made me feel like we were a team.
Find her support
Read up on breastfeeding, and know where to find support for Mom. Ask your pediatrician if a lactation consultant is on staff and if a La Leche League meets in your area. If Mom is working and nursing, help wash and sterilize the bottles and pump parts after she gets home and while she nurses the baby.