Support breastfeeding as a co-parent

Kimberly Seals Allers chats with Healthy Children Project's Karin Cadwell at the International Breastfeeding Conference 2015.
Kimberly Seals Allers chats with Healthy Children Project’s Karin Cadwell at the International Breastfeeding Conference 2015.

Most often the breastfeeding advice provided for partners assumes that s/he lives in the home with the nursing dyad. At this year’s International Breastfeeding Conference, Kimberly Seals Allers reminded us how important it is to give parents tools “based on the realities of their lives.” Assuming that a mother’s partner lives at home with her may leave co-parents feeling unsupported and confused about how to make breastfeeding work in their situation.

This week, we’ve compiled a list of advice on how to support breastfeeding for parents who do not live with the nursing dyad.

  1. Learn about the value of human milk and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is eco-friendly. Breastfeeding is associated with upward social mobility. Breastfeeding is cost-effective. Breastmilk is so much more than food.
  2. Understand that breastfeeding is different than breast milk feeding. Knowing that health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months, is there a way to arrange your time spent with baby so that s/he may directly breastfeed as often as possible?
  3. Learn how to identify your baby’s feeding cues and normal infant feeding behavior. Watching for early feeding cues will help you to meet your baby’s needs before s/he is too upset to eat.
  4. Learn how to properly handle and store expressed breastmilk. The CDC has a comprehensive guide on how to safely handle and store human milk. You can find it here. Click here for the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol on human milk storage.
  5. Remind yourself of the value of human milk and the effort that it takes for a mother to express her milk to maintain lactation. Storing milk in small food-grade containers, like Tupperware or small canning jars, will allow you to feed your baby as s/he needs it and avoid wasting the precious food.
  6. Learn about alternative feeding methods for the breastfed infant.
  7. If you and your co-parent choose to bottle-feed, learn to do so in a manner that is respectful to your baby. You can find a guide here. You may also experiment with side-lying bottle feeding so that excess milk does not pool in your baby’s mouth.
  8. Leave room for open communication with your co-parent and other caregivers. Ask questions, share concerns and accomplishments.
  9. Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals.
  10. Be proud for supporting breastfeeding!

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