4 Ways To Include Your Partner When Breastfeeding

There was a time when partners were involved in only a small part of child rearing.  Mothers raised the children, kept the home & prepared the meals while partners foraged for the food – e.g. went to work – sometimes leaving for weeks or months at a time. Today more families have dual incomes, making it necessary to “share” the child rearing responsibilities.  Families spend more time bonding on days off.  Newborn feeding is still primarily the mother’s role.  Hence the reason mammary glands are formed and filled with milk. 
Many mothers choose not to breastfeed just to keep the partner involved.  That is, assuming your partner will feed the baby at least half the time.  Some fear losing the relationship with him or her if they don’t “share” the baby.  Other women don’t feel they can be the sole caretaker of the baby and want the partner to have equal time.  Even if he or she is not capable or willing. Partners themselves have been known to say they feel “left out.”  So how can the baby form relationships with both parents if breastfeeding?
If the mother is exclusively breastfeeding a newborn baby, assume that she will spend about 8 hours per day feeding or burping.  This leaves the partner to spend ample quality bonding time before and after feedings. Rethink the “chores” involved with caring for your baby and you will feel a deeper connection to your family.
Best ideas for daily bonding moments
  1. Diaper changes, burping and more:
If baby is getting ready to feed, start with a diaper change before bringing him to mom.  When baby is 12” from your face, he will see you best and interact with your expressions as well as the sound of your voice.  Once done, pass him off to eat but stay close by for burping.  If he falls asleep after burping, it’s ok to cuddle for a while.  You can’t spoil a baby this young.  Sometimes baby will be fussy, despite the feeding, and may need you to do the 5 S’s: swaddle, side or stomach position, shushing (gently in his ear), swinging (in arms), sucking (even your clean finger will do).  When all else fails, he can go back to mom for more feeding.  Repeat the process once she is done. 
  1. One-on-one time:
It’s never too early to sing, read, dance or play with baby.  Babies enjoy the sound of your voice in different frequencies.  Changing from talking to singing or reading a story is all about the time you spend, not the content.  Don’t be shy!  When dancing, try to use a baby carrier that is comfortable and age appropriate.  This will free up your arms for more movement.  Again, baby will revel in the time you move together, not judge how well you dance.  So dance like no one is watching.  Since baby is not ready for toys too much in the fourth trimester, you are his playtime entertainment.  Keep it short and sweet and you will have a concrete bond!
  1. Bath time:
Bathing can be stressful for some newborn babies.  The change in temperature is drastic and not all babies enjoy water. This is not forever.  Eventually they will take delight in bathing.  For those that do appreciate the water, take your time and allow for fun interactions, not just the task at hand.  For the baby that is hard to settle in a bath, they usually like it when mom or dad bathe with them. Do this when someone else is home to help you.  Once out of the water, use the drying & dressing time to interact playfully with your voice to soothe baby. 
  1. Bedtime:
Touch is one of the most important senses we need for survival.  If a human baby is left untouched his brain would not develop properly and he runs the risk of not surviving.  With breastfeeding and changing diapers, it’s surely not of concern.  To optimize those “feel good” hormones in baby, why not do infant massage?  You could take a class, watch a video, ask your massage therapist or just start with the basics: rub his skin from head to toe.  You can’t really do massage wrong, provided that you are not using harmful pressure.  Try this after a bath, but before dressing.  You can even try a calming scented oil to put him to sleep. 
A note about bedtime: Most babies are fussiest in the evening hours.  We call this “bewitching time.” It’s that period of the day between dinner and bedtime.  Over stimulation, exhaustion and just needing to “shut down” for a while is a common phenomenon for all humans.  Adults get crabby too, but we know how to talk…babies just cry and eat and cry and eat during this time.  It is normal if you feel baby does not want anything to do with you during bewitching time. Don’t take it personal.  Believe me, mom would love for you to take and soothe baby during this period.  This is the time of night when baby will usually cluster feed until finally asleep.  As the baby gets older (3 months+) finding a bedtime ritual for you to be included will get much easier.
As you can see, feeding is only part of any given day.  In a person’s lifetime breastfeeding is like a blip on a computer screen.  Blink and it’ll be gone.  Bonding is more complex than just feeding.
Sarah Glenn IBCLC, CD, CBE, YTT has been helping families through the perinatal period for almost 30 years.  She is a wife, mom of 7 and grandma to 4+ babies.Sarah is also a freelance writer, budding herbalist, nature goddess, sun seeker and avid reader.
Posted: 9/4/2019 2:45:38 PM | with 0 comments

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