When a mom decides to breastfeed, she is making a choice to have to put herself second most of the time. She will need to be readily available to breastfeed her baby whenever that baby needs to eat. This could mean every 2-3 hrs, or at times, every hour or more during cluster feeding times. Whether you are a newborn care specialist, a significant other, a family member or a friend, there are plenty of ways you can support mom and baby even though you aren’t able to feed the baby.
Make it known that you are available to help mom with whatever she needs while breastfeeding.
Make sure her water bottle is filled.
Offer to get her a snack or make her a meal that can be ready for her when she is done.
Offer to do most of the diaper changes, especially early on when feeding can be more frequent.
Be understanding. Your body didn’t just give birth and your hormones aren’t all over the place. Grace goes a long way.
Wake up at night when mom has to get up, or at least don’t grumble when she wakes you to help if needed.
See if mom is willing to pump once a day so you can take one nighttime feed. Then wash the pump parts for her!
Keep open communication. Let her communicate to you what she needs you to do and what she wants to do herself.
On top of all this, having the support of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) can he be super helpful to a successful breastfeeding journey. Offer to help research local ones from the beginning so mom can call on the support and advice of a professional if need be.
When you are not the one breastfeeding you most definitely don’t need to feel useless. (Also, make sure you are not making yourself useless!) Breastfeeding is not easy and mom will need your 100% support throughout her breastfeeding journey.