Monday 3 August 2020

How Husbands Can Support Breastfeeding

Multicultural motherhood

I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding. I breastfed all four of my babies; the eldest for about a year and the other three for about 2 years. I loved it. I loved the bond it created between my babies and I, I loved how convenient it was and I loved how it gave my babies the best nutrition that was just right for them at each stage of their early development. According to WHO, "Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. And it forms part of a sustainable food system. But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding." Now that isn't to say that it will be right for every family. I know that it is not possible for every baby to be breastfed, but if you are able to, it is wonderful.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week 2020 which is an annual celebration during the first week of August and was originally set up to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding exclusively during the first 6 months of a baby's life. It aimed to reintroduce the culture of breastfeeding around the world and highlight the benefits of breastfeeding for a baby's growth, immune system and protection against diseases such as pneumonia.

Each year World Breastfeeding Week has a theme and this year it is "Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet". So how is breastfeeding good for the environment? Firstly it is a natural and renewable source of food for your baby. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs to thrive. Also, breastfeeding produces no waste. There are no tubs of formula or cartons of ready-made milk that need to be disposed of once used. You don't need any plastic equipment, although you may choose to use a breast pump and bottles occasionally.

Most people know about the benefits and I believe that most women who want to breastfeed can do so, but it is not always easy and feeling supported will increase the chance of breastfeeding success. The main source of support for breastfeeding women will be their partner. If he is supportive, it will make things so much easier. Here are some ways men can support their partners to breastfeed:

Multicultural motherhood

Don't expect breakfast to be ready in the morning

Now I say breakfast, but in the early days with a newborn you shouldn't expect any meal to be ready on time. I also know that some couples won't take on traditional roles, but we do. My husband goes out to work and I stay at home so I'm happy to cook his meals. One thing that caused tension between us when our eldest was born was the fact I couldn't do much in the first few weeks and months. He'd wake up to get ready for work and I was stuck on the sofa breastfeeding the baby. It took him a while to understand that breastfeeding takes up a lot of time at the beginning and this affected my ability to be able to make him breakfast! So, any men out there reading this, give your spouse some slack, understand your baby comes first and make your own meals, and it would be great if you could make hers as well!

Make her a cuppa

Breastfeeding mothers need to stay hydrated. They will need more liquids than normal because breastmilk is made up of about 90% water. Therefore, they should increase their water uptake, or drink more of their beverage of choice. However, they shouldn't force themselves to drink more; quenching their thirst will be sufficient. I found I was more thirsty than normal when I was breastfeeding and drank lots of decaffeinated tea, as well as water, as I didn't want my baby to be exposed to caffeine though the breastmilk. So, it always helped when my husband brought me a cup of decaf tea while I was breastfeeding.

Support her to breastfeed in public

When baby is hungry, baby needs to be fed, no matter where you happen to be. I have heard of women that struggle to breastfeed in public and some who even avoid going out because they are worried about it. Women who have support from their spouse to breastfeed in public, may feel more confident to breastfeed their baby anytime, anywhere. 

There are a number of ways husbands can support their wives to breastfeed in public. First, they should reassure them that it is perfectly fine to do it. Help women to work out which kind of clothes make breastfeeding in public comfortable and discreet. Help them to find quiet spots to sit down and breastfeed. And above all, men should not allow their own misconceptions of breastfeeding in public put their wives off. 

My husband was always very supportive of me breastfeeding wherever I needed to and I am sure this helped me to breastfeed for as long as I was able to with all four of our children.

So there you have it. Three ways husbands can support their wives to breastfeed their baby. Being a support is the best thing they can do to help women on their breastfeeding journey.

Multicultural motherhood


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