Partners and support systems play an essential role in supporting breastfeeding and infant sleep practices, contributing to the overall well-being and development of the baby and fostering a strong bond within the family. Although breastfeeding and infant sleep are often associated with the mother’s responsibilities, others can actively participate and provide valuable support throughout these crucial early stages of parenthood.
Educate and Inform
One of the first steps to support breastfeeding and infant sleep is to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of establishing healthy sleep routines. By learning about the benefits of breastfeeding, such as optimal nutrition and immune system support for the baby, others can appreciate the significance of supporting the mom’s breastfeeding journey. Similarly, understanding infant sleep patterns and the importance of sleep for the baby’s development will help everyone actively participate in creating a conducive sleep environment for the infant.
Breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers. Especially during the early stages when they may face latch issues, sore nipples, or concerns about milk supply. Offering emotional support by being encouraging, patient, and lending a listening ear is important. Simple gestures like praising the mother for her efforts and expressing appreciation for her dedication can go a long way in boosting her confidence and commitment to breastfeeding.
Engage in Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact is beneficial for both the mother and the baby. Partners can engage in skin-to-skin bonding with the baby, which helps promote bonding and feelings of security for the infant. Skin-to-skin contact can also positively affect partners. This helps foster a deeper connection with the baby and enhances an understanding of the baby’s needs.
Assist with Practical Support
Everyone can play a crucial role in providing practical support to the breastfeeding mother. This includes helping with household chores, cooking meals, and caring for older siblings. This will allow the mother to rest and focus on breastfeeding. Assisting with diaper changes and burping the baby after feeding can also give the mother a much-needed break. And it will strengthen the baby’s connection with other family members.
Encourage Healthy Sleep Practices
Establishing healthy sleep practices from an early age is vital for the baby’s overall development and well-being. Partners can participate in creating a bedtime routine. This can be reading a bedtime story or singing a lullaby to the baby. By being actively involved in the bedtime routine, they can help the baby associate sleep with comfort and security.
Share Nighttime Responsibilities
Infants wake up frequently during the night for feeding and comfort. Partners can share nighttime responsibilities by waking up with the mother during night feeds. They can also take turns comforting the baby back to sleep. This helps the mother get much-needed rest. It also allows partners to bond with the baby and develop their own caregiving skills.
Be Patient and Understanding
Parenting is a learning process, and everyone encounters challenges along the way. It is essential for partners to be patient and understanding, supporting each other through the ups and downs of breastfeeding and infant sleep practices. Open communication and empathy are vital in strengthening the partnership and creating a nurturing environment for the baby.
Active involvement and support from partners and others play a crucial role in successful breastfeeding and infant sleep practices. It not only contributes to the baby’s well-being but can also strengthen the family bond and promote a positive and nurturing environment for the entire family. By working as a team, parents can navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood, ensuring the best possible start in life for their precious little one.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital and BJC HealthCare offer a variety of breastfeeding and infant care classes and support groups for moms, dads, grandparents, and other loved ones to prepare and feel supported along this journey. View the list of available in-person and online classes.