Encouragement Through the Struggles: Part 2

3 dads holding their babies, smilingEarlier this year, New Beginnings published a blog post that focused on the topic of helping your partner during breastfeeding difficulties. This post was prompted by a question on the La Leche League USA Facebook page posed by J., who asked, “I’m struggling with how to support my wife. She has said that breastfeeding is really important to her, but it’s been really hard so far. Whenever I suggest an alternative, she gets upset and says I’m not being supportive. What can I say or do to help her?”

J. received so many encouraging and helpful suggestions, and we highlighted a few in Encouragement Through the Struggles: Part I. In today’s blog post, we’d like to share more ideas from our readers which, due to space constraints, weren’t included in Part I.

Our readers overwhelmingly continued to emphasize that one of the least helpful things J. could do was to suggest alternatives to breastfeeding. The focus, they agreed, should be on finding ways – both physically and emotionally – to support and encourage his wife as she moves past the current struggles that she faces.

Anne C. wrote that she appreciated when her partner focused on practical ways to help her and the baby, as well as verbally encouraging her.

Feed (your wife), literally. Bring her drinks unprompted. Change diapers, do the dishes, etc. For me, the most important thing was not only NOT offering alternatives, but telling me verbally what a great job I was doing; how he knew it (breastfeeding) was hard, but he was right there supporting me as I did this important thing for our baby.

Madie M. shared a fun way to address a variety of physical needs and boost spirits – a basket of practical and comfort items.

Make up a special basket. Some things to put in it are nipple pads, nipple cream, milk collector for her letdown, cooling gel pads, a nice water bottle, some of her favorite treats/snacks, fuzzy socks, lotion, a new pair of pajamas or a nice robe, a lavender candle (or a candle that is her favorite scent), and maybe some flowers, too. A basket with goodies isn’t necessary, of course, but it is still thoughtful and so sweet to do.

If expressing milk is part of your routine, Jenni C. emphasized helping with that as much as possible.

Don’t suggest alternatives. She knows she can pump or give a bottle. What she needs is empathy and support. Make sure she has everything she needs. Track the extra (expressed) milk for her, combine and store it properly,and handle any washing and sanitizing (of equipment) that needs to be done.

Solena B. said that her partner’s emotional support and physical presence made all the difference as she worked through early breastfeeding challenges as well as postpartum depression.

I struggled with postpartum depression and not wanting to give up but not feeling like I was successful. My husband was such a help being supportive by bringing me snacks, encouraging me to drink more water, and getting said water for me. He would sit with me while I nursed and give me words of encouragement. His support and encouragement to not give up on something I knew was right and was what I knew I wanted was so helpful.

Abigail B. said that helping out both day and night, as well as ensuring that she was able to take short breaks to be alone, was important to her.

At night get up, change baby, and bring the baby to her. Give her time to shower on her own, go for a walk, and have some alone time. It’s easy to get touched out and stressed while breastfeeding.

Whether the struggles are short-lived or span weeks or even months, the challenges can seem less overwhelming with someone supportive and informed by your side. This support may come from a partner, an extended family member, a friend, as well as health care providers andorganizations such as La Leche League. When someone understands how important breastfeeding is to you, Madie M. said, that can make all the difference on your road to success.

Research everything under the sun about breastfeeding. La Leche League is an awesome breastfeeding organization that has a ton of articles, research, information, and free helplines if needed. Trust me, being a partner that knows the ins and outs of breastfeeding will be so helpful. She will know that by you learning all about breastfeeding and going out of your way to do so, that you support her breastfeeding journey.

Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].

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