Okay, partners. This ones for you. ☝🏼
Moms have the breasts, so they have to do the feeding — all of the feedings — if you’re looking to nurse exclusively.
We chose to do this with our baby + not use artificial nipples or pacifiers + I can confidently say it’s been a worthwhile investment.
But keyword: investment.
Exclusive nursing isn’t as mainstream as you’d think, even though it’s traditionally been the longest form of feeding a baby worldwide. Moms need support to nurse in a society that encourages convenience over quality + confuses the sex messaging around breasts (breasts weren’t made for sex, they were made for feeding babies!).
A partner’s support can make or break the exclusive breastfeeding experience — but how do you actually “support”?
Here are my top 5 ways a partner can help ensure exclusive breastfeeding is a positive experience for all.
1 — Encourage bedsharing.
Don’t knock it before you try it. Many women avoid even suggesting bedsharing to their partners because they think they’ll be against it.
Take the lead + suggest it first. Revisit the topic if she’s already brought it up to you.
Bedsharing was the BEST! It is completely safe for breastfed babies when the safe guidelines are followed. You can help her remember the safety guidelines + help her adapt to positions that fit within them.
Along these lines, be proactive in your support for how sex might change. She might not want her nipples touched all the time. You might feel weird having sex outside of the bed. Talk about what’s still on-limits and off-limits in-advance, so that bedsharing can go well. When bedsharing goes well, breastfeeding is infinitely easier + mom is less tired, which means everyone gets a better version of her in the long run.
2 — Insist on being on-call.
Ask her to involve you when it’d be nice to have an extra hand — regardless of the fact that she knows she could “handle it herself.”
The extra energy conserved matters! Are you sensing a theme here?
On-call tasks might be refilling water bottles, restocking diapers + wipes, holding baby if they haven’t settled right away after burping, etc.
I tap my husband when I get up to pee in the middle of the night so he can snuggle closer to baby + make sure she’s not rolling off my side of the bed when I’m not there.
The little things add up. I get so much peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to feel bad for waking Kev up because he genuinely tells me so + reminds me often. Remind her often that nothing is too little of an ask when it’s helping your little one.
3 — Handle the end caps of household management.
Knowing that the tail ends of housekeeping are covered will help a mom to sleep more peacefully + feel less guilty when the “normal” daily tasks aren’t always carried through. Nursing on-demand is demanding, so alleviating some of the other daily demands will encourage less stress + better nursing sessions for mom + baby.
As I’m nursing baby down to sleep, Kev takes out the trash, lets the dogs out, preps his work bag for the next morning + makes sure the dishwasher is running before he locks up the house + joins us in bed.
When baby wakes in the morning, he lets the dogs out again + starts something for our breakfast.
If you have additional children, start working yourself into their morning routine in a more consistent way.
Ask yourself what you can be doing to keep your house running smoothly while mom is busy nursing + make a small plan you can stick to.
4 — Show confidence in public.
Babies don’t care if you’re in the middle of shopping when their hunger strikes. When they need to eat, they NEED TO EAT + they make those cues known.
Be the calm, assertive partner who takes the lead when the public panic can get the best of mom. Walk her to someplace she can sit somewhat undisturbed, stand in front of her to just have a simple conversation while she nurses so she can get used to whipping a boob out somewhat discreetly in public, help adjust the nursing cover or remind her that now is a good time for her to rehydrate herself, too.
The calmer mom is, the better her milk flow + the more efficient the feed for the baby.
I grew up so conservatively that I never would’ve imagined I’d be okay with showing some skin in public. But I have to say, the more confident I got in my nursing “technique” + the better baby got at suckling, the less time it took to feed + the less I cared about someone’s judging looks if a nipple ever happened to slip out. (I don’t think I’ve had any memorable nip-slips to-date, but I don’t even pack the nursing cover anymore.)
If someone does have the audacity to say something negative, step up + tell them to look elsewhere, you’re proudly feeding your child as nature intended.
Learning to nurse is a challenge on its own, so when you step in + take on an outside challenge like public comfort, you’re helping mom keep her focus where it matters most so that she can build the confidence to sustain this healthy lifestyle.
5 — Get Ahead on Baby-Led Weaning
There will come a time when baby is interested in solid foods in addition to breastfeeding. Kensington cut her first teeth at 4-months-old (much to my surprise) + was interested in solids shortly thereafter.
It was so nice to let Kev take the lead on her exploring those foods. I got more breaks for self-care + that initial food connection led to an adorable daddy-daughter cooking bond in toddlerhood.
Read up on how to do baby-led weaning + how to help a choking baby so that mom can rest assured you know how to take it from here + she’s safe to step away for a much-needed hands-off break.
What ways do you help as a partner during the exclusive nursing days? Moms, what would you add to this list?
Let’s keep the conversation going. I know we could get much deeper than 5 points here! Comment below.