Expert tips by Lynne-McKensey Hall IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and Baby Hints & Tips Breastfeeding Expert
The birth of a baby is a wonderful event in which whole families hope to share. This includes helping the new mother transition into her new role of motherhood as well as admiring the new baby! In many cases, partners take leave after the birth of their baby to spend time with their partner and new arrival.
Partners are keen to help but may be unsure of how to, especially if the mother is breastfeeding. If either or both the baby’s grandparents are helping with household chores and cooking, partners may feel further displaced about their role while at home.
Having the ‘in-laws’ busy with ‘home’ duties can be a bonus for the partner. They can be the ones to cuddle the baby to sleep after their partner has finished a breastfeed. Cuddling provides a wonderful bonding opportunity, the baby feels secure and the new mother can eat, drink or sleep knowing her baby is asleep and safe.
Partners can help by keeping the baby asleep on their chest while watching television or working on the computer — hardly a chore! Talking or singing to the baby while changing a nappy is a tremendous help and something partners can quickly become adept at. Bathing the baby or showering with the baby is very helpful especially if this gives the new mother a chance to have a snack or a drink. Taking the baby for a walk in the pram alone while their partner sleeps is a bonus I remember well. I could sleep while I knew our daughter was sound asleep but in the safe care of my husband. Wearing the baby in a sling or baby carrier when out and about can take the pressure off a new mother’s back or abdomen, particularly if she is recovering from a Caesarean section or a long labour.
If family help is unavailable there is plenty partners can do. Keeping the fridge and pantry stocked with food and ensuring the mother has three meals, two snacks and plenty of fluids throughout the day is probably the best support a partner can provide. If couples can’t outsource the household chores, guess who needs to do them? However, anytime family or friends offer to iron, cook or provide a meal, partners should never say no! The importance of keeping visitors at bay, the phones off and sleeping when the baby is asleep cannot be overemphasised.
For more helpful tips, purchase Partners or Grandparents & Carers from my Breastfeeding and Baby Matters series at www.betterbeginnings.com.au.
Lynne-McKensey Hall has over thirty years’ experience in nursing, midwifery, nurse education and lactation management. She now works as an IBCLC in her private practice Better Beginnings in Sydney, Australia. Lynne has just released Breastfeeding & Baby Matters, a series of eight booklets available from Better Beginnings. She is also available for phone 0419 245 966 and Skype consultations. To see all of Lynne’s articles, click here.