Alexiyah Coughlin, BSN, RN, IBCLC

Imagine: It’s 1:30 am. You wake to the sound of your baby crying. It’s time to nurse. You sleepily roll over and reach into the bassinet, pick up your tiny newborn, and get ready to nurse. After about 20 minutes of feeding, you change his diaper, swaddle, and put him back to bed. Sometimes this can be wrapped up in 30 minutes. Other times, your baby may have a hard time soothing back to sleep. Or mom may be trying to increase supply, so she is pumping after each nursing session. Some babies may need a bottle of supplemented breast milk after nursing, so after breastfeeding and pumping, she may have to feed baby pumped milk. Others may be colicky or cluster feeding. Pretty soon, it’s 2:45 am, you’ve been up for an hour and fifteen minutes, and the next feed is in less than an hour. It takes you 15 minutes to fall back asleep, so you get a total of about 30 minutes of sleep before the baby wakes you again. This is the exhausting reality of the first couple months as a breastfeeding mom.

Chest/breastfeeding a baby can feel overwhelming. Afterall, it’s a huge undertaking to nurture a tiny human! Activating your support system is paramount to conquering the feat.  It takes a village, but sometimes, it’s difficult to know how to utilize resources.  As a lactation consultant, I’ve spent years working with families.  One thing I always run into is partners wondering how they can help, and it turns out that there are actually many things they can do to support their breastfeeding partner!

Bring baby to mom

This one is most important during the first couple of months when newborns are waking to breastfeed every couple of hours. Every extra step is less time for rest. Whether your baby is in the bassinet or down the hall in the nursery, bringing the baby to and from your partner can be incredibly helpful. This allows them to feed the baby without having to fully wake to transport the baby, which means (hopefully) less time to fall back asleep. This is one tiny way non-breastfeeding parents can help out.

Sooth baby between feeds

The saying goes: “sleep when the baby sleeps”. But what if the baby isn’t sleeping? Some babies may be harder to soothe, and when it takes a lot of soothing to get a baby back to sleep after a feed, this step can be detrimental to a breastfeeding journey. As a partner, you can help tremendously with this step. After the baby has been fed, take her out of the room to the nursery or another area. Rock, swaddle, or soothe baby back to sleep.  

Keep track of feeds

One of the most tedious tasks is tracking feeds and diapers. If you gave birth in a hospital, you know that diaper and feed recordings are quite important to nurses, and most pediatrician offices will ask for these stats at each newborn appointment. It seems silly, but writing down feeds or putting them into an app is just one extra step between a feed and your time to rest.  Putting dads in charge of this can eliminate the added stress for moms. Every second counts, so the sooner we can get moms back to resting, the better. Especially in the middle of the night. Partners can volunteer to record the data, giving moms one less task.  

Change the diapers

Newborns go through an average of 8-10 diaper changes/day, many of which occur in unison with breastfeeding sessions. Changing diapers is a big one. It’s time-consuming, especially if there is a blow out, requiring an entire outfit change. By helping with the diapers, you eliminate a big step for your breastfeeding partner. Take hold of this task, and you’ll buy your partner lots of extra resting time.

Household chores

When you’re taking care of a newborn 24 hours a day, household chores can be nearly impossible. For some moms, a messy house or the responsibility of making dinner can really loom, both physically and emotionally. Do the laundry. Make dinner. Vacuum, sweep, mop. Clean the bathroom. Pick up toys. Anything to check items off her list and make life a little less demanding. 

Fill her water cup

It’s the little things. It may seem silly, but breastfeeding consumes you, and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Partners, fill her water cup and bring her her favorite snack. Remind her to take care of herself. Breastfeeding demands extra hydration and calories, while making it harder to meet these needs. It’s a double-edged sword. This is one simple way to take care of your breastfeeding partner.  

Remind her that she’s doing a good job

Above all else, let your partner know that she’s doing a good job. Whether she’s nursing at breast, exclusively pumping, or both, breastfeeding is hard work. Partners can do so many physical tasks to help, but sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is remind her that she is doing a good job. Acknowledge the hard work she pours into nourishing your baby. Give her some extra love. Rub her back. Bring her coffee. Take care of her while she is too tired to take care of herself. 

Know that Rumble Tuff is here to help. With board-certified lactation consultants on staff, we are here to support you every step of the way. To schedule an appointment, go to https://rumbletuff.com/pumping-appointments. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.

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