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Breastfeeding has health benefits for both baby and mom, but it is not always easy, especially at first. The first few days of getting started can be painful, even for an experienced mom with a good latch. Feeds can take more than 20 minutes per side during the newborn phase, with baby wanting to feed about every 90-120 minutes. That works out to about eight hours of breastfeeding at the beginning. This can make a partner feel like he’s not doing a whole lot, and not know what to do while mom and baby are “at work.” Here are some suggestions:
Learn about how breastfeeding works. Read a book, learn how it works so you’ll know what she’s going through.
Step up to pitch in with the household chores. At first the baby will need to eat about every 90 minutes which means your partner will be planted and unable to clean, cook meals or do laundry. Step up to fill the gap.
Know where the breastfeeding supplies are: breast pads, pump, the nursing pillows, her water bottle, so you can bring them to her.
Be understanding of your wife’s limitations. Eight hours a day of being touched and having food sucked out of you is draining, literally. Your wife is not going to have much energy, attention or affection to give between feedings. Try to not take it personally.
Take over daily washing of the breast pump. Follow instructions on the manufacturer’s web site for washing and sanitizing breast pump parts.
Make sure she has water at arm’s reach. It’s important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, too little water can cause headaches and problems with milk supply.
Keep other pets and kids occupied so she and baby have a calm place to feed.
Offer up neck and shoulder rubs without the expectation of one back. Breastfeeding can be hard on a mom’s arms, neck and shoulders.
Ask her what she needs. It never hurts to ask, “do you need anything?”