7 Ways Partners Can Support Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding can feel like a magical moment between a parent and their baby, where time seems to slow and the world falls out of focus while she nourishes her child. But the flip side of that is that when your baby is breastfed exclusively, you may feel like the work of feeding falls squarely on your shoulders alone.

The truth is, there are many ways a partner can support a nursing mom, so that she feels supported and her partner feels involved in the process. The shared responsibility and experience will go a long way toward bonding with your baby, and strengthening your ties as parents. 

If you’re a partner reading this, check out the following seven ways you can support a nursing mom. If you’re the nursing mama in your household, share this with your partner to start a conversation and get the support you need. 

  1. Educate yourself. Even if you’re not the one breastfeeding or pumping, you’ll be more helpful if you know what’s involved in the process. Hit the books—or Google —to learn why lanolin is so good for sore nipples, researching the best hands-free breast pumps and finding out what to know about infant reflux
  2. Be her right hand. That might mean literally—like if she needs a tissue while nursing and can’t get up, hand her the box. But it could also be figuratively: make sure the cat is out of her favorite nursing chair when it’s time to feed, stack clean burping cloths on a side table, refill her water bottle so she stays hydrated. 
  3. Attend appointments together. No, you’re not the one doing the breastfeeding but you can be an engaged part of this feeding journey—including visits with lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes and workshops. Being there will give her both emotional support and provide a second set of ears to listen to tips and advice for a better breastfeeding experience. 
  4. Be an empathetic cheerleader. False cheer can be irritating, especially during difficult moments like if the baby isn’t latching properly, or her nipples are sore, or she got home from work ready to nurse but the baby is fast asleep. But empathetic encouragement is always valuable: let her know how proud you are that she’s nourishing your baby, and acknowledge the emotional and physical effort she’s putting in. 
  5. Provide practical support. By the time your baby is born, you may already have household chores divided up in a way that suits you both. But with the extra responsibility she’s taken on in feeding the baby, it makes sense for you to assume some extra duties, too. Don’t wait for her to ask—instead offer to do additional chores, errands and/or meal prep. 
  6. Get hands-on with the baby. If your baby is taking some feedings by bottle, offer to handle those while the nursing mom takes a break. Otherwise, make a habit of burping the baby after feeding, changing their diaper, putting them down to sleep or soothing them when they cry. This sort of hand-on parenting is important for all three of you. 
  7. Withhold judgment. When it comes to parenting, a flexible mindset is key. Maybe her plan was to breastfeed for six months, or a year or more. If that plan needs to change, roll with it, rather than questioning it or presenting arguments against it. Instead, be supportive and informed by reading up on what infant formula might be best for your baby, and learn about how to transition from breast milk to formula.  

There are many ways to support a nursing mom, but ultimately it all boils down to getting involved, communicating openly, and supporting her in this feeding journey. Doing so has multiple benefits—allowing her to better focus on feeding the baby you both love, strengthening your bond as a couple and forging a close relationship to your baby that will grow with every