In most parenting partnerships, both parents experience a heightened sense of awareness of parenting tasks due to their new parenting role. For the primary support person (SP), an increased desire to take care of the new baby and mother (whatever the tasks), and share the parenting responsibilities manifests itself.
I am frequently asked by the support person , “How can I help with breastfeeding? Would it be helpful for mom to pump and hand a bottle over to me so I can help her get her rest?”
The answer is, in most cases, “NO!, especially in the first couple of weeks as the mother and baby are trying to establish breastfeeding and a breastfeeding relationship. It is most important to try and breastfeed only , at least in the first several weeks, if not longer, to well-establish the mother’s milk supply, and to help the baby learn to breastfeed correctly without interference from other textures, flow-rates, etc. If the support person wishes to give a bottle, but mother still has to pump for that feeding, it would be much easier overall to just breastfeed!
However, there are many ways to support the breastfeeding mother during a feeding, and not directly breastfeed. Here are some suggestions. A” tag-team” approach to a feeding is usually very helpful. When the baby wakes for a feeding, the SP can go get the baby, change the diaper, etc. in preparation for the feeding, and bring the baby to the mother. Mom can breastfeed on the first breast. When baby is done, the SP can burp, check the diaper , and offer mother something to drink. When the mother is ready for side #2, the SP can hand the baby over for the feeding, and assist with comfort measures. When baby is done, they would also be responsible for settling the baby after the feeding: rocking, rechecking the diaper, etc. As a breastfeeding mother can definitely use a second set of hands, the support person can be intimately involved in this way with a feeding, without ever putting baby to breast!